What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar is a subset of the full Google search engine, currently with no advertisements. The content includes peer-reviewed journal articles, technical reports, dissertations, book chapters, and more. Search results include a useful "Cited by" link. Direct linking to journal articles often depends on whether Stanford has a subscription via the publisher/provider(s) listed in the search result.
- When you first connect to Google Scholar, you'll see a "Scholar Preferences" option. Scroll to "Library Links" search the word Stanford and select to the Stanford library options. This will enable you to access the full-text of articles in journals that Stanford subscribes to.
- Content derives from a variety of "scholarly" sources, including: open access databases like PubMed, technical reports, dissertations, book chapters, online book catalogs like Open Worldcat, selected journal publishers' websites, pre-print archives, etc.. In many cases, the full text of a particular work, such as a journal article, is both fully indexed and searchable, including the citations within the article's bibliography. Search results will often include these citations, extracted by Scholar, as separate and distinct items.
- One of the more compelling features of Google Scholar is the "Cited by" link. Because Google Scholar's indexing detects citations within a document (article, webpage, book chapter, etc.), it can provide a general idea of how many times a particular article, book, or book chapter was cited.
- Results are ranked in order of most relevant first. Factors that seem to affect ranking include: search term frequency within the document, in other words, the more the term(s) appear in a particular item, the higher the relevancy score; term position, that is, if a search term appears in the title of an item, it could receive a higher score than if the term is buried in an abstract; and citation frequency, that is, the more an item is cited the higher its potential relevancy (if cited by highly cited items, the relevancy goes up even further). Some newsletters report that journal "prestige" may also influence ranking.
- Book results can include links to Open Worldcat, an online catalog of holdings from libraries around the world. Stanford affiliates can click on the "Search the catalog at your library" option to search Socrates, the university's online catalog. Non-Stanford folks can input a zip code to locate the owning library(ies) closest to them.
- Advanced search options include: searching by author; searching by title; limiting results by date; and limiting results to a particular journal. Boolean operations are also available (OR and "-" as the NOT operator). No wildcard symbol is available for variant endings, although Google has its own near word mapping.
- Google has not provided a definition of "scholarly" and what is included or excluded. It has made arrangement with specific publishers for deeper web crawling of proprietary sites.
- PubMed is one of the free databases indexed by Google Scholar. Many of the results from searches on clinical medicine topics will either be links to citations within PubMed, or to citations from publisher web sites that are also available in PubMed.
- Although Google Scholar often indexes the full text of a journal article, the actual full text may not be available from the retrieved item. Why? 1) The library may not subscribe to the journal, 2) the link may be directed at one provider, while the library has a subscription to the journal from another, 3) off-campus access requires authentication. Lane Library is now providing proxied access to Google Scholar.
- No subject specific, publication type (review, clinical trials, etc.) or population group (child, human, etc.) search limits are currently available in Scholar.
- The content of subject-specific, proprietary databases is not necessarily well covered in Google Scholar. Databases such as PsycInfo (psychology); ERIC (education); BIOSIS (biology); etc., are still the resources of choice for thorough, comprehensive searching.
- Indexing delays means that the results in Scholar are not necessarily as recent as the resources it indexes (e.g., PubMed).
- There is no no convenient way to download, print or import (e.g., into EndNote) the results of a Scholar search.
- The "Cited by..." option complements, but does not replace, Stanford's proprietary citation indexes, e.g., Web of Science.
Link from Google Scholar to FindIt@Stanford
Google Scholar now shows "Find It @ Stanford Med" links, which connect you to Lane's online journals. This is the equivalent of the Stanford button in PubMed.
When at the Med Center, these links will automatically show in Google Scholar. From home, you'll need to set your preferences following the steps below.
1) Connect to Google Scholar.
2) Click on Scholar Preferences to the right of the search box.
3) For Institutional Access, search for Stanford. Check the box "Stanford University Medical Center (Find It @ Stanford Med)"
4) Click the Save Preferences button and continue searching.
5) Look for links in your search results labeled Find It @ Stanford Med Note that when on campus, you will also see links to "Find It @ Stanford" -- this version is provided by the main campus library system.