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InfoSkills for Global Law

InfoSkills @ TiU

Google Scholar

What is Google Scholar?

A free search engine ( that searches across many scholarly research areas and resources, such as academic publishers, professional societies, institutional repositories, and other online archives. Google Scholar also searches a scholarly subset of the books made available by Google Books.  

Like Google, Google Scholar can only index the 'full text' of documents (i.e., documents in their entirety) that are accessible on the Surface Web. Full texts come from open access journals, institutional repositories, and other kinds of open archives. Most of the results found in Google Scholar, though, are short descriptions of articles. Some subject areas have better coverage than others. Google Scholar is particular good for finding grey literature and official reports.

Is everything in Google Scholar scholarly?

Not necessarily. Google Scholar uses an algorithm that makes a calculated guess at what it thinks is a scholarly source. However, this process is not watertight.

Predatory journal ex.: "International Journal of Social Science and Business"

Predatory journals

You can come across low-quality, pseudo-scholarly information in Google Scholar, e.g., articles from 'predatory journals' [NL: rooftijdschriften]. Predatory journals are fake publications masquerading as reputable open-access journals. Knowing that career progression in the academic world depends mainly on the articles researchers publish, predatory journals are abusing the author-pay model of open access publishing by charging uninformed (often young) authors exorbitant publication fees without providing real peer review.

Relevance ranking

Google Scholar returns the most relevant search results first. This method of sorting results is called 'relevance ranking'. Google Scholar's relevance ranking is based on the number of times a document has been cited in other documents indexed by Google Scholar. Items that are cited the most by other items will show up higher in the result list.

The downside of relevance ranking is that the most recent articles are generally not included in the top results. The reason for this is simply that it takes time for an article to be cited by other articles.

Never pay for articles!

Google Scholar often links to articles on commercial publisher websites. These sites will ask you to pay to view the full text of an article. Do not pay for articles! If it turns out that the TiU library doesn't have the article you want, you can request it via our Interlibrary Loan system.

What are the results marked [Citation]?

These are books, or any other type of document, which scholarly articles have referred to (cited), but which Google Scholar hasn't found online. Items with a [CITATION] notation tend to be older books or articles.

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