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Google and Google Scholar

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What’s the difference between Google and Google Scholar? Learn how both can help you meet your research needs.

Script of video:
Google is a search engine. A search engine is a program that searches for and identifies items on the Internet that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user. Google uses a program called “web crawlers” or “spiders” to discover publicly available webpages.

Search results are sorted using Google’s trademarked PageRank technique. PageRank helps sort web pages on the Internet by running the page through an algorithm and giving it a numerical weight. This is used to present results based on relevance.

Google’s PageRank relies on a few factors, such as:

The frequency and location of keywords within the Web page - the more keywords present, the higher the PageRank score it

How long the Web page has existed - Google places more weight on websites that have been around longer

And the number of other Web pages that link to the page in question the higher this number, the higher the page rank

Google also incorporates many of its other services, such as Google Maps and Google Local to match results to the user’s geographic location

Want to learn more about how Google works? Check out these resources:

How Google’s search works

Google’s search algorithm

Or see your search activity at My Activity

What can I find with Google?

Grey Literature: Grey literature is information produced by entities whose main task is NOT publishing. Industry, think tanks, government, scholarly societies, and associations all produce grey literature.

Articles: Depending on the topic, scholarly articles can be found in Google results, but we recommend using Google Scholar and academic databases instead.

Websites: Google will provide access to almost every website on your topic, ranging from personal blogs to corporate marketing campaigns. For academic research, these sources of information should be avoided.

News: Google will search online news sources for your topic, providing access to ongoing and historical debates across critical and uncritical perspectives.

Videos: Acquired by Google in 2006, YouTube is a source for education and entertainment material. Be aware that anyone can post a video to YouTube, so you will need to critically evaluate the information you find. 

Wikipedia: A popular source for background information, academics are strongly discouraged from citing Wikipedia since anyone can edit the articles. The citation list found at the bottom of each article can help researchers beginning to collect papers. 

Images: Although Google Images is a great resource, the vast majority of images found are copyright-protected. Permission is required to use these images. Different levels of usage rights can be selected to avoid copyright infringement.

Maps: Typically Google Maps isn’t used for academic purposes, but it can be used for measuring geographic distance and exploring museums via virtual tours.

How can I Google like a pro?

Try these common search techniques

Track the latest content with Google Alerts (this requires an account)

Reverse Image Search by pasting the image URL or uploading an image file

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources Video

Things to remember when evaluating Google results:

Just because it’s ranked first doesn’t mean you should use it.

Google’s PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of the website’s importance. The number of links does not always indicate quality of the source.

You may be missing out on relevant results.

Google uses information about you, such as your location and previously visited websites, to filter results to what the algorithm thinks you want. This can decrease the diversity of your results.

This is called a filter bubble.

Who has cited the source can help indicate its value.

For scholarly sources, Google makes it easy to see how many citations a source has and you can click to view those other resources.

Google Quiz

What does Google use to discover publicly available web pages?

Crawlers or spiders

PageRank

Magic and voodoo

Correct answer: Crawlers or spiders

Google Scholar:

What is Google Scholar Video

Google Scholar is a specialized search engine that broadly searches for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources, including a variety of academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, and universities.

Google Scholar uses a program called “web crawlers” or “spiders” to discover publicly available scholarly research. It operates similarly to regular Google search.

It also uses automated software, known as "parsers", to identify bibliographic data when searching.

Google Scholar ranks results with a combined ranking algorithm. This algorithm takes into consideration the full text of each article, the author, the publisher and how often the piece has been cited in other scholarly literature.

Unlike Google, Google Scholar easily allows you to explore related works, citations, authors, and publications. This can help you find even more relevant scholarly works.

Although the results may not be the full text, Google Scholar can be linked through Western Libraries so you can access the complete document. 

Want to learn more about how Google Scholar works? Check out these resources:

Indexing Guidelines and Parsers

Google Scholar Content Coverage

Or create your own library at Google Scholar Library

What can I find in Google Scholar?

Journal Articles: Google Scholar indexes journals from around the world, using an algorithm to determine if an article is scholarly or not. Many articles are non-scholarly or are fake, so critical evaluation of the source is crucial. Google Scholar is helpful for finding the top-cited and most-popular articles on a topic, as this is the default setting for search results. Go to “Settings” and “Library Links” to sign into Western Libraries and access full-text content.  

Books: Scholarly books are often found in Google Scholar, although access will be limited to select pages. Check out the library catalogue to see if the book is available.

Patents: Google Scholar indexes full page images of U.S. patents from USPTO.

Case Law: Google Scholar indexes U.S. case law only, and users can select specific courts.

What else can I find in Google Scholar?

Author Metrics: Author metrics measure a scholar’s research impact on their field/discipline using number of publications and number of time those publications have been cited.

Journal Metrics: Journal metrics measure the citation rate of a journal based on the number of articles published in that journal and the number of citations the journal receives. To access these metrics click on the link on the Google Scholar home page titled "Metrics."

H-Index: The H-index was originally designed as author-level metrics but Google Scholar uses it for both author and journal metrics. The h-index combines the productivity and citation impact of a scholar’s publications or a journal. The index is based on the set of the scholar’s/journal’s most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other publications.

Author Profile: When you create a Google Scholar citations profile, it helps you track your own citations and metrics. You are more discoverable when you have a profile, as the profile will appear in search results for your name. You can control which articles are associated with your profile.

Research Metrics Guide

Tips for Searching Google Scholar

Try these common search techniques

Follow the latest research with Google Scholar Alerts (requires an account)

Track who cited a paper with Cited by and Web of Science links

Revising Your Search Strategy

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources Video

Things to remember when evaluating Google Scholar results:

Who has cited the source can help indicate its value.

Google Scholar makes it easy to see the number of citations a source has and who has cited it.

Google Scholar doesn’t contain everything.

Some publishers do not allow Google Scholar to crawl their sites, and there is no list of journals indexed. If you only search Google Scholar, you are likely missing out on important resources.

Not everything relevant will be on the first page.

Google Scholar’s algorithm is biased in favour of older articles. These articles are more likely to have higher citations and well-known authors. You could be missing new, relevant sources.

Not everything is peer-reviewed.

Google Scholar results can range from books to scholarly articles to 4th-year these in institutional repositories. Just because it is in the results doesn’t mean you should use it.

Google Scholar Quiz

How is Google Scholar able to provide the full text of articles and other resources?

By linking through Western Libraries

Crawlers and spiders

Magic and voodoo

Correct answer: By linking through Western Libraries

Have any questions? Contact us!