Have You Heard about the Google Scholar Button?

June 5, 2015

The Google Scholar Button is a new Chrome or Firefox add-on which can streamline your journal research. Once the button is installed you can easily search Google Scholar by highlighting the terms you want to search and then clicking on the button. A menu will appear on the page with links to electronic versions of the resource in which you are interested. If you have Google Scholar set up to recognize your home institution it will seamlessly link to any resources that are freely available on the internet or any to which your institution subscribes

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

When installing the add-on in Firefox you may need to refresh the browser in order for the button to appear.

Google Scholar and Academic Research

November 14, 2014

What is the relationship between the library and Google Scholar?

Google identifies the resources but the library at U of T makes them available.

Google Scholar is a great resource for identifying academic and scholarly resources in a wide range of electronic collections.  It may seem seamless to link to those resources through Google Scholar but did you know that the library is in fact the resource that makes this linkage possible?  We are fortunate at U of T to have the extensive array of digital resources that that the library has purchased for our use.  The library has registered with Google to make those resources available to you through my.access, directly from the Google Scholar link.  To make sure that Google Scholar recognizes you as a U of T user go to http://scholar.google.ca/scholar_settings?sciifh=1&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5 and register.

Is everything on Google Scholar?

It seems like everything is findable when you do a search and then receive an overwhelming number of results but in reality this is not the case.

Of course you will not find anything that is in print only and it is important to remember that print publications are still an important source of information. As an example, only a portion of the Supreme Court Law Review, one of Canada’s leading law journals is online.

You will not find links to material exclusively available on a propriety database like QuickLaw/LexisNexis or WestlawNext. According to Google, “[s]horter articles, such as book reviews, news sections, editorials, announcements and letters, may or may not be included. Untitled documents and documents without authors are usually not included.”

In addition you will find that Google has a low indexing of some institutional repositories generally because of incompatibilities with the metadata tagging used.[1]

What is findable, is almost everything on the Internet that was born digital or has been digitized and made available online.

Google Scholar locates “…journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports and other scholarly literature from all broad areas of research.” Unfortunately its indexing is not selective and consequently predatory (or junk science) journals are likely to be included in the search results.[2] While this may be less of a problem with legal publishing it is, nevertheless, very important to verify the authority of the journals and authors being located.

Is using Google Scholar the most efficient approach to research?

That depends: for multidisciplinary research Google Scholar might be a good tool to use.

To be most efficient, especially when researching an unfamiliar topic Google Scholar reiterates the need to use conventional research tactics like consulting secondary resources to find the appropriate vocabulary or terminology with which to begin your search.

The advanced search gives you the options of searching for “all terms” or specific phrases and of excluding specific words anywhere within either the title or the article. You can also search by specific authors or journals and within specific date ranges. You cannot search by subject. Once search results are returned they can be sorted by date generally as well as be limited by a specific date or date range. There is no way to extract a particular material type like a book chapter or scholarly journal from the results.   These are the only options for refining a search. The alternative is to redo the search using additional or different search terms.

One really useful feature of Google Scholar is that you can link to the articles that cite the one that you are interested in as well as locate similar articles through the related articles link. In addition, citations are available in APA, MLA and Chicago style and can be exported to BibTeX, EndNote, RefMan or  RefWorks.

If, for example you were looking for information on the impact of war on the human rights of women in international law since the year 2000…

A search for “armed conflict” war and women’s human rights yielded 17,400 results sorted by relevance and frequency of citation.  There is no option searching for “armed conflict or war,” so both terms need to be searched. Adding international law to the search yields 100 additional resources bringing the total up to 17500.

Compare this with a similar search in Summon (“armed conflict” or war and women’s human rights) which searches the full text of all resources available through the University of Toronto.  This search reveals 2,440 results and can be further refined by selecting various facets from the menu including or excluding specific terms from a vocabulary list. Limiting the search to include international law provides a quite manageable list of 244 scholarly works.

This comparison shows while Google Scholar will locate many materials, its search mechanism is still not complex enough to do precision searching.   The best approach to using Google Scholar is to locate a specific article or the works of a specific author and then use the Related Articles link to expand your search to find more materials on topic.

[1] Kenning Arlitsch and Patrick O’Brien “Invisible Institutional Repositories” Library Hi Tech Vol 30 issue 1 p 60-81

[2] Google Scholar is filled with junk science < http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/11/04/google-scholar-is-filled-with-junk-science/ >

Email alerts now available in Google Scholar – including citation alerts

June 10, 2010

Google Scholar now supports email alerts for new results on search queries, including alerts to new citations of a given paper.  Click the envelope icon in the upper left corner of the Google Scholar page after running a search to set up an email alert on that query. To set up an alert to new citations of a work, first run a search, then click on the “Cited by X” link beneath the work you’re interested in, then on the resulting page click the envelope icon.

Google Scholar Adds US Case Law

November 17, 2009

On November 17 Google Scholar made a large collection of US Federal and State case law available online. See: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/finding-laws-that-govern-us.html

While Google has yet not provided details of the extent of the coverage, it appears as though coverage of US Supreme Court decisions begin with volume 1 of the United States Reports and other Federal and State decisions begin at 1950. (Our test of volume 10 (1810) of the United States Reports found every case we searched).

It is unclear what Google’s sources are for much of this case law (some appears to come from publicresource.org) but all cases have the same pagination as the printed reporters but do not include editorial content such as headnotes and Key Numbers.

At this stage of course the commercial sources’ (Lexis, Westlaw) added editorial content and the ability to note up make them a more complete academic research tool. Still this is an interesting development that could lead to wider access to US case law in the same way that CANLII has increased access to Canadian case law.

In addition to US case law Google Scholar also searches some major online journal collections such as Hein and JSTOR. Searching Google scholar while connected to the UofT network will link you to the full article via the Library’s licensed access to Hein or JSTOR. When not connected to the UofT network, search results are limited to only the first page of a journal article.

We will update this entry as more information comes out.

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