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InfoSkills voor Rechtswetenschappen

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 types of open archives). Most of the results found in Google Scholar, though, are short descriptions of journal articles. 

Is everything in Google Scholar scholarly?

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

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.

An example of low-quality information you can come across in Google Scholar is the predatory journal [NL: rooftijdschrift]. Predatory journals are fake publications masquerading as reputable open-access journals. Knowing that career progression in science depends mainly on the articles researchers publish, predatory journals are abusing the author-pay model of open access publishing by charging authors exorbitant publication fees without providing real peer review.

Results: Sort order

Google Scholar returns the most relevant 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 get 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 an article you want available, you can still get it from our Interlibrary Loan system in just a few days.

What are the results marked [Citation]?

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

What does 'Full text via TiUfinder' in a Scholar result list mean?

In order to accomodate students and faculty of TiU, the university library lets Google display a 'Full text via TiUfinder' link from the Google Scholar results list. By clicking on the TiUfinder link you can check if the full text of a particular journal article is available from the TiU library's databases. Note that you will often, but not always, find full text with the TiUfinder. Some publishers don't allow users to access their journals through Google Scholar.