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Google Scholar

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar logo Google Scholar indexes full text or metadata of academic papers from a variety of publishing formats and disciplines.


Google Scholar can be a great tool for supplementing your research. However, only searching Google Scholar means missing important research and spending extra time verifying if an article is peer reviewed.

Things to consider when using Google Scholar:

 Benefits: 

  • Links to related articles, how often cited and by whom, provides citation styles
  • Quick link to full text via the UCSC Library 
  • Allows you to save both citations and articles to read later
  • Searches the full text for your keywords
  • Sometimes finds free full text for items not in the library

 Drawbacks: 

  • Does not include all journals and not everything is scholarly
  • Don't know what specific sites are being searched 
  • No full-text or peer review limit
  • Hard to do more complex searches (e.g. can't search or limit by subject headings)
  • Ranks relevancy differently than library databases

How are search results ranked?

Google Scholar ranks search results based on a number of criteria:

  • How often it has been cited in other scholarly literature, not rigor or accuracy
  • The full text of a document
  • Where it was published
  • Who it was written by
  • How recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature

Try Library Databases First!

Google Scholar it is not a replacement for the library databases. Think about using it as a supplement your UCSC Library database searches and not as the only place you search.

Benefits of searching library databases:

  • Designed for academic research
  • Provides more accurate and targeted searching
  • Organized by information and subject professionals with controlled vocabulary and other limits
  • Can limit to full-text and peer-reviewed and scholarly content
  • Limit a search to particular fields (e.g. title, abstract, subject, journal)
  • Retrieve and refine a manageable number of results

Pick a Library Database to search

Find Library databases by topic

  • Choose among specialized research guides in all major subject areas
  • Each guide includes links to article databases and other research help

Find Library databases listed A-Z

  • Includes links to most popular databases
  • Help on how to access from off campus