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Environmental Science 101: Google Scholar

What Is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar searches a specific subset of Google's index that is limited to academic materials such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts, and technical reports from broad areas of research.

Advantages of Google Book Search

  • Many articles are available full-text.
  • Google Scholar can connect you to library resources.
  • The sources are more academic than those you would find through a standard search engine query, though you should still always evaluate the content you find.
  • It covers a wide range of academic content areas and is continually being updated.
  • It ranks and lists results according to how relevant they are to the search query. The most relevant references should theoretically appear at the top of the page.

Disadvantages of Google Scholar

  • Some articles are available only as abstracts; others are pay-per-view.
  • Your results may not be current or as comprehensive as you need.
  • Coverage tends to be stronger in science and technology and weaker in the humanities.
  • Google Scholar does not say where it finds its sources, so you cannot have the same confidence in its reliability as you can when searching library sources.

How To Find and Search Google Scholar

You can find Google Scholar at this URL,  You can also find Google Scholar by beginning at Google’s homepage at, clicking on “More” and then selecting “Scholar”.

How To Search Google Scholar

Search Google Scholar just as you search Google. Text entered in the search box will perform a keyword search that will return results that are listed according to how relevant they are to the search query. The most relevant references should appear at the top of the page.

Advanced Search Tips

Use Google Scholar's Advanced Search to search by author, publication, and date.

Interpreting Your Search Results

Search results have a variety of formats. PDF and HTML documents will have clickable title links that point to abstracts or full-text, but citations and books will not. Citations are items that have been extracted from the references, footnotes, or bibliographies of documents indexed by Google Scholar. They typically do not have clickable links, but the citation usually gives you enough information to track down the item.

Cited By

Clicking the Cited by link on Google Scholar will display a list of articles and documents that have cited the document originally retrieved in the search. This makes it possible to find other documents related by topic to the original document. However, Google Scholar only includes articles that are indexed within its database, and this can be a much smaller subset of scholarly articles than those found in the library databases.

Full Text @ My Library

If you are searching from an on campus computer, you may see links entitled Full-Text @My Library or Ebscohost Full Text. These links will lead you to the full text of articles that are available through the library databases (Ebsco and Proquest).

Setting Up Full-Text @ My Library Off-Campus

Follow the steps below to set up the Full-Text @ My Library feature on your own computer.

  1. Go to Google Scholar.
  2. Click on the "Options" wheel link in the upper right-hand corner and click on the "scholar preferences" link.
  3. Scroll about 1/2 down the page and type in Mt San Jacinto in the "Library Links" field & press the "Find Library" button.
  4. Check all of the MSJC options that appear and click on the "save preferences" button at the top or bottom of the screen.
  5. Search for articles on your topic. You should now see links to full text articles (you will see the links to the full text on the right-hand side of the page) that are available through the library databases as well as other articles that are available on the web.
  6. You can see these steps illustrated in this video.

Pay-Per-View Articles

You will also see articles that do not have the full text, only the citation (author, title, date, etc.). You may be prompted to pay for these articles—don’t! You can request any article (for free!) through our Interlibrary Loan Request Service. Please be aware that it can take up to two weeks for the article/s to get here.