Thursday, 13 June 2013

How to Use Google Scholar to Its Full Potential

Last week, I wrote a post introducing the three search engines that I like to use the most for my research. The one that I like the most is Google Scholar because it has a large amount of papers in its database. Furthermore, it can show you how many times a paper has been cited. If you think this is all it has, then you are wrong and read on! I will introduce how one should best utilize Google Scholar.

To start, let us consider a search example. In this example, I will be search for materials related to the history of mathematics. The results returned by Google Scholar is shown below.


The Box A shows the author and the year the paper/book was published. Box B tells you how many times a paper have been cited. Typically, any papers above 200 citations are considered to be good papers. But, this is heavily dependent on the field you work. I heard from a friend that it is relatively common to get over hundreds of references in computer science. For books, I consider anything with over 1000 citations to be good research-based books. One can click on the URL of Box B to get the full list of what papers cited this paper/book (in our case, this would return us the papers and books that cited 'History of Mathematics'). This is an extremely useful function. You can search for results that extend on the paper of interest easily. For example, it returns the following list.


Next, Box C contains another useful function for research purposes. Clicking on Box C will return other articles/books that similar to the paper/book of interest. This will help you to explore materials of your interest quickly. In our example, it returns the following when we click on Box C.


Finally, you can sometimes download the specific article/paper using Box D. If you are connected to your university network and your university supports searching article on Google Scholar, this is also where you can download your materials directly from your university library.

Overall, Google Scholar is a very powerful tool to search for papers and books. I highly recommend it to everyone to give it a try. It does have some shortcomings though.

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