The Secret to Being a Google Scholar

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Being a Google Scholar

Imagine this: You need to write a research paper, but at the last minute you realise that you’ve missed your bus to the library and it has just started raining. What do you do?

If your answer was: “I go for a walk in the rain.” I applaud your misguided dedication. Your friends and I have something to talk about though, so you go ahead. We’ll catch up, I totally promise.

If your answer was: “I fail the assignment.” Well now, we have something to talk about

Come closer, I’m going to tell you a secret. If you are a 21st century internet-savvy student, the easiest way to research for an assignment is to use Google Scholar. The address you need is http://scholar.google.com.

When you search for your research topic on Google Scholar, the search engine will come up with a result like this.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

“But Lee, ordinary Google does that, and the links there all go to Wikipedia and I am too lazy to read anything difficult. Also I tried one of the links here and it asked me to pay £1,000,000 to read a three-page article.”

Listen up! We’re using Google Scholar because all these articles are actually academic, and won’t lead to an automatic fail on your assignment like citing Wikipedia will. Lots of the articles you find will be locked, so that they are only obtainable by people at universities who subscribe to them, or by millionaires who can pay for each article individually. However, even if you are not at a top university, you can still read lots of articles here. Look out for links to the right hand side of the results saying that PDF or HTML versions of the article are available for free, and links to free previews of Google Books under the titles.

Google Scholar also has an advantage in that, just like real Google, it will search INSIDE the sources for matches to your subject. You might see a book title which has nothing to do with your search term, but with a little off-topic note inside, just perfect for citing.

Google Scholar also has some advanced features, not that you’ll be using those. The little “Cited By” link under each article will give you a list of academic papers which have used that article as a source. This can sometimes help you find similar articles, as can “Related Articles”. The little “Cite” button will help you if you use a citation program like Mendeley or Zotero. Finally, sometimes if you look closely the names of the academics will be clickable links as well. This usually happens when the academics involved have found a tech-savvy student who just can’t say no. If you click on those names you will get a list of other papers they have written, which can be a way to find even more sources.

If plodding through the rain isn’t your thing, we have just the course for you. Here at ADL we offer an online University Preparation course which is perfect for teaching you the basics of Critical Thinking and Academic Writing, whilst you sit in your pyjamas with a coffee. You get your assignments marked by an academic and unlimited free support. Sign up today!

By Lee Raye

Lee is a PhD candidate at Cardiff University with degrees from Aberdeen and Oxford. He has written two books, digitalised another and written several academic papers. He has been interviewed by National Geographic and presented papers at eleven different national and international conferences and seminars. Lee’s native language is English and, if asked, he is always happy to help students with their English spelling and grammar.

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