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Google Scholar Basics

Google Scholar may be used to supplement discovery and organization of your information sources

What Is Google Scholar?


Google Scholar is a search engine which provides a simple way to broadly search for research literature.

Using the search feature, you are able to discover a wide variety of online scholarly literature, including: journal articles, theses, preprints, technical reports, conference proceedings and books. Google Scholar explores the bibliographic information of sources as well as the text to provide you with optimized search results.

Currently, Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.

It is important to note that Google Scholar's coverage is is wide-ranging but not comprehensive. It can be a research source, but should not be the only source you use.

Getting Started

To use fully take advantage of Google Scholar, a Google account is required. If you already have a Gmail address, you already have a Google account. Note that you do not need to use Gmail to have a Google account.

To create a Google account and get a Gmail email address:

  1. Go to the Google Account sign in page.
  2. Click Create account.
  3. Enter your name.
  4. In the "Username" field, enter a username.
  5. Enter and confirm your password.
  6. Click Next.
    • Optional: Add and verify a phone number for your account.
  7. Click Next.

To get a Google account if you do not want to use Gmail and want to use another email address instead:

  1. Go to the Google Account Sign In page.
  2. Click Create account.
  3. Enter your name.
  4. Click Use my current email address instead.
  5. Enter your current email address.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Verify your email address with the code sent to your existing email.
  8. Click Verify.


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Pros and Cons for Google Scholar


  • Chances are you are already familiar with Google and how to use their search engines.
  • You are able to see how frequently cited an article is and who is citing it.
  • Allows you to read the full article if it is freely available online (published without requiring a subscription cost).


  •  Shorter articles, such as book reviews, news sections, editorials, announcements and letters, may or may not be included. Untitled documents and documents without authors are usually not included. Website URLs that aren't available to search robots or to the majority of web users are not included either.
  • You will not have free full-text access to many of the academic papers discovered with Google Scholar.
  • Google Scholar does not provide the criteria for what makes its results "scholarly". Results are often vary in quality and it is up to the researcher to determine which of the results are suitable for their purposes.
  • Google Scholar does not allow users to limit results to either peer reviewed or full text materials or by discipline.