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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Google for Research

A guide on techniques for researchers to increase their skills with Google's various search options.

Is Google Scholar right for my research?

Google Scholar is good for...

  • Helping a beginning researcher identify journal titles and authors connected with subjects of interest.
  • Finding "gray literature" like conference proceedings. It includes many articles that wouldn't get included in other indexing services.
  • Locating obscure references that are proving difficult to find in conventional databases.
  • Locating more information on partial citations.

Google Scholar cannot...

  • Sort/search by disciplinary field
  • Browse by title
  • Limit search results
  • Search the deep web

Keep in Mind:

  • You may get a long list of results, but you will only have access to the text of articles that the University of Illinois Library has paid subscriptions for, or that are freely available.
  • Not everything in Google Scholar is scholarly. Google Scholar searches academic websites (.edu) as well as journals and publisher websites. Search results can include PowerPoints, news announcements or unpublished materials as well as articles and books. 
  • Searching in Google Scholar is imprecise when compared with discipline-specific databases.

Connect Your Account

Google Scholar often prompts you to pay for full text articles. In many cases these articles are freely accessible to U of I affiliates through one of the Library's many subscription databases or journals. You can use Google Scholar's Library Links feature to identify yourself as a University of Illinois affiliate. This allows you to find full text library resources directly through Google Scholar results.

This is what Google Scholar search results look like when you're off-campus and haven't yet identified yourself as a University of Illinois affiliate:

Example of Google Scholar search for the word marmosets

Note: If you're using Google Scholar from an on-campus computer, the Discover UIUC Full Text links will display automatically without any special configuration.

  • To identify yourself as a University of Illinois affiliate, go to Settings at the the top of the Google Scholar search screen, then select Library links.
  •  Search for University of Illinois and select the "University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Discover UIUC Full Text" checkbox.
  • Make sure this box is checked and click Save.

Google Scholar Library search

  • Now, when you run searches in Google Scholar, you should see a link More below the results. Click on this link to see more options, like a cached view of the website or searching the university's print resources.

Please note that, even if you don't see a Discover link next to an article, it doesn't mean that we don't have it! The University of Illinois Library has access to thousands of journals online and in print, and not all of them are accessible through Discover. If you need help locating a particular article that you found through Google Scholar, please Ask a Librarian.

Advanced Search Results

homepage for google scholar

Above, you'll notice that if you hover over the down arrow, you will get access to Google Scholar's advanced search features. By clicking on that arrow, a box will pop up with many options that will allow you to refine your search. This advanced search will allow you to sort by specific phrases, as well as authors and date ranges.


Advanced search options

Article Specifics

Once you are looking at a single result, there are a few options for the item. Some of these include:

  • "Cited By" will show you a list of works that cited this article.
  • "Related Articles" will direct you to articles on the same or a similar subject.
  • "Discover UIUC Full Text" will direct you to library databases that contain the article.

Options for each article you see include cited by, related articles, and discover full text

How to incorporate Google Scholar into your research

Google Scholar searches specifically for scholarly materials such as journal articles, research reports, dissertations and theses, preprints, technical reports, patents, manuscripts in preparation, working papers and many other document types.

When you do a search in Google Scholar, you get a list of citations. You'll get links to the full text in the following cases:

  • If the Illinois library subscribes to the journal title
  • If it's from an open access journal
  • If the researcher posted the article on her/his website.

We don't know exactly how Google Scholar indexes items, but this is how Google Scholar defines its metrics.