Google Scholar

What's in Google Scholar?

Google Scholar contains scholarly research, including articles, books, theses, and more. It's important to understand that Google Scholar might not contain the actual item you're looking for, but might just have metadata (information about that item, such as title, authors, and journal title). If you get to Google Scholar through the library website (you can find it through the Databases tab), you'll be able to see which resources you can access through the library.



If the library doesn't have access to the item you're looking for, we can still try to get the item through interlibrary loan.

Search Tips

Google Scholar has millions of items, so you'll want to be more specific in your searches. To get a more targeted set of results, you can use advanced search, try using multiple keywords, or limit your search in other ways.

Using Limiters
 You can use the limiters on the left side of a Google Scholar results list to set more specific criteria for your results. If you're looking for case law, clicking on "Case law" will return only law-related results. "My library" will display articles you've already saved. 

 Limiting by date can be one of the most useful features. You can either use Google's presets ("Since 2015", "Since 2012") or create your own custom date range. For example, if you needed articles from the past 5 years, you could use the custom date range to get them. 

 By default, Google will rank articles by relevance - meaning how closely related Google thinks they are to your search. You can switch to "Sort by date" instead to see the most recent articles first. It's best to sort by date if you're doing a search you've done before and want to see what's new, or if you need the most recent research. 

The final limiters are "include patents" and "include citations". Unless you're specifically looking for patents, unchecking "include patents" is a good move. Unchecking "include citations" will remove any articles that don't have an abstract and which Google can't locate online.

Advanced Search

You can use Google Scholar's advanced search function to get more relevant results. Advanced search gives you more control over your search - you can add or exclude keywords or limit to certain publications or authors. To get to advanced search, click the down arrow at the right side of Google Scholar's standard search box.


A much larger search box will pop up with many more options.

Enter your search words in as many or as few fields as you like. By default Google will be searching the entire text of an article, but you can change that option so it just searches a title. You can also use advanced search to search within a particular journal or for a specific author. Advanced search is also very useful if you're looking for articles from a certain time period. 

Getting Citations from Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides citations for the books and articles in your results list. To get a citation, click on "Cite" under any item:

That will bring up a box with bibliographic citations for the item in 5 styles:


You can cut and paste the citations into your bibliography. There are two catches here: 
1) If you are using a different citation style than those Google lists, you'll need to build the citation on your own, or use a reference manager like Mendeley or Zotero.
2) The citations Google Scholar provides are for bibliographies - you'll need to create in-text citations yourself.

Citation Trails and Related Articles

If you've found one good resource on Google Scholar, you can use it to get to more useful articles. Your first move should always be to check the bibliography/references of the item you're using. In addition to checking sources, you can use two of Google Scholar's features to find similar articles. Click on "Cited by ___" under any source to see articles that have cited the item you're looking at. They'll be related to your topic and are worth looking at.

If you still need more sources, you can click on "Related articles" to see a list of items Google thinks are similar in content. Be aware that Google doesn't reveal how it determines which articles are related, so you'll have to review them carefully.

Your Google Library

If you're signed in to a Google account, you can save articles to your library to review later. Click "Save" under any article to add it to your library. 


You can look in your library by selecting "My library" on the left side of any results screen, or selecting "My library" from the top of a main Google Scholar search page.

Creating Search Alerts

You can use Google Scholar to set up search alerts - meaning you'll get an email when there are new items that match your search terms. Alerts can be particularly useful if you have a long-term research project. You can either do this from the left hand of any result screen (look for "Create alert" next to an envelope icon) or from the main search screen (click on "Alerts" at the top of the screen). You can use any email address so you do not need a google account to get alerts. Alerts are easy to cancel when you're done - you can cancel from your emailed results or from the Alerts menu of Google Scholar.

Looking for Case Law?

If you're looking for case law instead of articles and books, you can set Google Scholar to search only case law at the beginning of your search. From the main search screen, select "Case law". You'll then be able to select "Federal courts", "New York courts", or other courts.