Searching Google Scholar

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a service provided by Google that allows you to search broadly for scholarly literature available online. Peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and other scholarly literature are covered. 

Are there limitations to Google Scholar?

Google Scholar allows you to search across many disciplines and sources; however, only a small portion of all published scholarly literature is included.  Because there is no complete list of sources indexed on Google Scholar, there is no way to know how comprehensive your searches are or how much information is available using Google Scholar. 

Gleeson Library/Geschke Center subscribes to many online databases and resources that provide more relevant, focused, up-to-date and comprehensive information than can be found in Google Scholar. Resources, including databases, available through the library are available as an A - Z list or organized by subject.

How do I find 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 “Google Scholar”.

How do I 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 ranked and listed according to how relevant they are to the search query. The most relevant references should appear at the top of the page. More detailed guidance for using Google Scholar can be found at Google Scholar Help.

How can I limit my search or perform more specific searches?

You can limit your search to certain authors, words in the title, publications, dates and/or subject areas by using Advanced Scholar Search, which can be selected from the choices to the right of the search box. Help in performing advanced Google Scholar searches can be found on the Advanced Search Tips page. 

How do I get to the full-text of an article?

If the full-text of the article is available on the Web, you can click on the title of the item in blue and you will be brought directly to the full-text. These are often links to sources, which require you to pay in order to see and obtain the full-text of the article. If no full-text is available, clicking on the title will take you to an abstract of the article.

How do I know if the article is available through USF?

You can use our link resolver, USF: Find Full-Text, to help determine if we have access to the full-text. Go to "Scholar Preferences" at the top of the main Google Scholar search screen. Under "Library Links," enter "University of San Francisco" and hit "Find Library." Check "University of San Francisco - USF: Find Full-Text" and click "Save Preferences" at the top. Users can click on the USF: Find Full-Text links next to citations in Google Scholar.

What do all the links under each item in the results list mean?

Under each item in your results list, you will see some or all of the following links. 

Cited by – links to a list of documents that have cited the original document. This is one way of finding documents that are related to the original document. Because only documents that are indexed within Google Scholar will be retrieved, this may be a smaller set of documents than is included in some databases to which USF subscribes, such as SocINDEX with Full Text and PsycINFO. It can be a good idea to compare your results in Google Scholar to your results in a library database.

Related Articles – links to a list of documents that are related to the original article. (The original article is not necessarily cited in the documents.) Only documents indexed by Google Scholar will be retrieved, which is a smaller set of documents than is included in many databases to which USF subscribes. 

Library Search – searches the OCLC WorldCat database for books in print format that are available in a local library. If you select this link, you will retrieve records for the book at libraries that are closest geographically to the zip code from which you are searching. If you want to find sources to purchase the book, use the Web Search link. 

Web Search – searches for information about the item on Google. This, in effect, broadens your search to search all items indexed by Google rather than just items indexed by Google Scholar. This is one method of trying to find the full-text of an article. If it is available on the Web, clicking on Web Search will retrieve links that may allow you to either purchase the article or to view it for free, if it is available at no charge. If the item is a book, you may retrieve links to sites to purchase the book. Remember to check USF library’s Journal Finder or Ignacio, the library’s catalog, before paying for a document. If you want to find the book at a local library and it is not available at USF, use the Library Search link. 

Cached - the snapshot that Google took of the page as they crawled the web. The page may have changed since that time.

BL Direct – links to the British Library Direct site, which will give you the option of purchasing the full-text of the article. Remember to check the library’s Journal Finder before paying for a document.

Can I sort and display search results by date, author, publication, etc.?

No. Results in Google Scholar are always displayed in order of relevance and cannot be re-sorted to display by date, author, publication or any other variable.