Research for (non) Dummies – Part 2

You’ve read the first post on Basic Google and Google Scholar searching, now you’re ready to move forward. The next two questions are, “what do I do with the information displayed on the screen?” and “how do I get access to what I need?”

How do I get access to what I need?

Let’s start with the second question since it will impact the first.  Suppose you are researching the topic, “Research tips” in Google Scholar.  The screen you will see with those two keywords will be the same for everyone who uses those keywords, but with a little knowledge and an extra step, you might have more options than the average user.

In the first picture below you’ll see that if you press the little arrow in top-right corner of the screen, you open a menu that has an option labeled “Settings.”

Research Tips - Pic 1

Click “Settings” and it will take you to another screen. On the left-hand side of that screen you’ll see an option entitled “Library Links.” If you click this button, you’ll be taken to the screen in the next picture:

Research Tips - Pic 2

If you’re a student, staff, faculty, or affiliated with a local library (don’t forget your local libraries count here), you can input the name of that library, press “search” and get a couple of options to enable below the search bar. With these enabled, Google will recognize your affiliation with a specific library (or school’s library) and provide a direct link to search that library’s EBSCOHost and FullText holdings if the search engine suspects that access to a specific source may be available.

Once you’ve enabled your library affiliation, start searching. Again, with the keywords “research tips” you’ll get the next screen:

Research Tips - Pic 3

Notice the blue arrow and the red arrow. The blue arrow points to what you will see if the search engine suspects your library might have access to the article directly to the left. The text by the red arrow means that the source is already freely available somewhere online (legally of course). Often, universities and agencies will place some of their research online for free and Google Scholar will be able to locate these for you.  Wow!  What a time saver!

What do I do with the information displayed on the screen?

Google Scholar actually provides all the information you need to begin evaluating and locating sources without clicking on them individually.  In the picture below you’ll notice two boxes:

Research Tips - Pic 4

The blue box outlines the title of the source, but also tells you when the source is available in a specific format: in this first case a .pdf file, the “[PDF]” to the left of the article. Directly beneath the title, still in the blue box, is a wealth of important information starting with the author’s name (“D.T. Griffee”), followed by the journal title in which the article appears (“Journal of Developmental Education”), the year of publication (“2005″), followed by the location database that provides the journal and article (“ERIC”).

Don’t ignore the “Red Box”

The red box is often ignored by novice researchers, but it includes some really helpful information. First, the “Cited by” tells viewers that this article is cited in at least 40 other publications, so the higher this count, the more popular and potentially useful the source will be.  Second, the “Related articles” option is invaluable if you locate a source you believe directly relevant to your search since clicking this button will have Google Scholar’s search function provide articles similar in type and topic to the one you found above. “Cite” provides a citation generator for citations, while “Save” offers you the option to save specific results to your Google Account if you are logged in. Finally, the “more” button will offer options specific to that source, which may include “Library search” (using WorldCat), “View as HTML”, “Cache” is a previous version might be available, and a few other helpful options.

Now you have the information you need to use Google Scholar like a professional.  Happy searching!

Now that you’ve mastered the use of Google Scholar in research, why not put that knowledge to use by continuing your education at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor?

Dr. Toby Coley

Dr. Coley is Assistant Professor in the Department of English. He specializes in Composition and Rhetoric and has conducted empirical (qualitative) research on the role of digital media in the writing classroom as well as archival, historical, and textual research in the areas of religion, composition, and composition history.

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About Dr. Toby Coley

Dr. Coley is Assistant Professor in the Department of English. He specializes in Composition and Rhetoric and has conducted empirical (qualitative) research on the role of digital media in the writing classroom as well as archival, historical, and textual research in the areas of religion, composition, and composition history.

  • Paige

    Great article! I love Google Scholar and use it all the time in my research. One thing I would be careful about is the “related search” feature. Because Google is “very forgiving for bad searching (Jastram)” a “related search” will most likely give you non-relevant material. This is the specific area where databases excel.