Using Google Scholar – some tips

Google_Scholar

Whilst it may lack the powerful filters and quality content of our business databases, Google Scholar is a quick and easy search tool that focusses on academic material (Google is a little sketchy on defining what this actually is).

Setting up Google Scholar

When you are working on campus Google Scholar should be automatically configured to link in with Swansea University’s “iGetIt” service so you can check for the full text of articles where a direct PDF link is not provided. If you want to set up your own devices to work this way, we have a handy guide:

Connecting to Swansea University resources through Google Scholar (PDF)

Using Google Scholar with EndNote / EndNote Online

The guide above also links to information on using Google Scholar with EndNote or EndNote Online. Unfortunately you can only import one reference at a time.

Keep up to date: alerts

You can set up Google Scholar alerts so that you are emailed when new content appears matching search terms that you specify. More info on Google’s website.

Discovery of more recent papers

If you find a really good article on Google Scholar, you can use the “Cited By” link underneath the result listing to see what other papers have included your article in their reference list. This can be a good way to discover further useful material that has been written after your article (and which may therefore be more up to date).

Screenshot showing the "Cited By" link underneath a Google Scholar result

Learn More

Google Scholar has its own blog where you can read more in-depth articles and learn the latest news. A recent article goes into great depth on “Using Google Scholar in Scholarly Workflows“.

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Short cuts to finding quality journal articles

Our two biggest business databases (EBSCO Business Source Complete and Proquest Business Collection) are excellent places to look for journal articles for an assignment. Given that many assignment briefs specifically ask for students to find “academic journals”, “quality journal articles” or “academic literature” it is particularly useful that both our databases allow you to filter results to academic journals. However, they both do this slightly differently…

EBSCO Business Source Complete has the option both before and after searching to limit your results to “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals”. You can also use their “Source Type” filter to select “Academic Journals”:

Screenshot of EBSCO search result filters showing "Academic Journals" option

 

EBSCO defines these as “Peer-reviewed journals are publications that include only those articles that have been reviewed and/or qualified by a selected panel of acknowledged experts in the field of study covered by the journal.” They also have further information on how they classify journals in their knowledge base which states that “Academic Journals” are ” journals that publish articles which carry footnotes and bibliographies, and whose intended audience is comprised of some kind of research community”.

Proquest Business Collection has two separate options:

Screenshot from Proquest showing the "peer reviewed" and "scholarly journals" options

“Peer reviewed” = defined as “a publication in which articles go through an official editorial process that involves review and approval by the author’s peers (people who are experts in the same subject area). Most (but not all) scholarly publications are peer reviewed. Some trade publications are peer reviewed. ProQuest uses Ulrichsweb as the primary reference source to categorize peer reviewed publications.”

“Scholarly Journals” = defined as “a scholarly journal is a publication that is authored by academics for a target audience that is mainly academic. The scholarly journal printed format isn’t usually a glossy magazine, and it is published by a recognized society with academic goals and missions. The ProQuest criteria states the publication must be academic in focus with the intent to report on or support research needs as well as advance one’s knowledge on a topic or theory. The publication will be targeted for professional or academic researchers and have in-depth analysis typically focusing on one discipline or academic field. The publication will likely be peer reviewed or refereed by external reviewers. The publisher should be a professional association or an academic press.”

The distinctions being made in the databases reflect the fact that:

  • Peer review is a quality assurance process which may be used by some non-academic journals too (e.g. trade publications)
  • “Academic” and/or “Scholarly” are used to designate that the journal is intended for an academic audience (or for researchers) and that articles will have footnotes and references in academic style.
  • Not all “academic” journals will be peer-reviewed – and for some “peer-reviewed” journals not ALL their content may be peer-reviewed (e.g. editorials, book reviews).

Whilst Google Scholar may state that it indexes “scholarly information” (precise definition not supplied), it is quick and easy to use our two databases with these filter options applied to make sure you are focussing on top quality material for assignments.