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Google and Google Scholar: Google Scholar

How to improve your Googling and search Google Scholar more effectively

Findit@UWA - don't pay

Google Scholar will most likely link you to articles requiring payment for access.

Configuring your Google Scholar to FindIt@UWA creates a search link to databases the Library subscribes to on your behalf to provide free access to journal articles. Check OneSearch for full access details.     

Try it out!

Google scholar logo


Google for Researchers

The Library periodically runs workshops on a range of topics in the Library Research Support Program, including Google for Researchers.

Access the notes from the May 2020 class.

Google Scholar: top 5 tips

Set up links to FindIt@UWA - to link to full text faster

  1. Click on the Burger menutop left of the screen, then Settings cog settings cog  
  2. Select Library Links from the left menu, then enter University of Western Australia
  3. Tick the box next to The University of Western Australia


Set up Export to EndNote links

If using EndNote, you can make exporting from Google Scholar faster:

  1. Click on the burger menutop left of the screen, then Settings cog 
  2. Under Bibliography manager, select Show links to import citations into and choose EndNote Import citations to EndNote
  3. When you perform your next search an Import to EndNote link will appear under each item. Import into EndNote
  4. Note that you can only export one item at a time to EndNote, and check the details carefully, Google Scholar citations may be of poor quality.


Install the Mendeley plug-in - export multiple references at once

If using Mendeley, install the free Mendeley Web Importer to scrape multiple references from the page in one step.

For further information, see the Mendeley Survival Guide.

No single source captures everything. It is best to use multiple sources for maximum coverage. Search OneSearch using keywords from your topic and add the word databases to find scholarly databases in your area of study, eg plant biology databases.  Alternatively, browse the
Library Databases page using the drop down menu options for your area of study. See the Using OneSearch website for further top tips and videos.

Access advanced search from the burger menumenu in the top left. It gives many options for refining your search. 

Google Scholar advanced search

Alerts are a great way to keep up to date in your field of research or study. Once you have done your search, look for the Alerts link on the left side of your results to set it up.

 Create alert

A Google Scholar profile is free and will appear at the top of the results lists when someone enters your name into Google Scholar, therefore promoting your work.

  • Set one up by clicking on the My Profile link on the Google Scholar homepage.
  • Update automatically, but check periodically that the list is correct
  • Link to publications that have cited yours
  • Provide summary metrics eg h index and pattern of citations


What's in Google Scholar?

Google Scholar has broad coverage of scholarly literature. It can be used to search for:

  • Journal articles
  • Theses
  • Government reports
  • Content in university repositories (including the UWA Research Repository)
  • Some grey literature

It can be particularly useful for establishing an overview of a topic, or for searching for a multidisciplinary topic. Many of these items can be difficult to source using subscription library databases.

Google Scholar vs Library databases

With such broad coverage, it can be tempting to only use Google Scholar for literature searching, especially when it can link through to the full text in databases subscribed to by UWA Library. However, it is recommended that Google Scholar is used in conjunction with Library databases. This is because:

  • The exact coverage of Google Scholar is unknown – we do not know which journals and websites it indexes, how far back they go, or which books it lists
  • Like Google, the details of the ranking algorithm are unknown 
  • While citation counts are useful and can lead to other useful articles on a topic, they are inflated, counting references as ‘citations’ when they are not, eg a high school science report
  • There is no ability to differentiate peer-reviewed from items not peer-reviewed
  • Data is often incorrect or missing
  • Most importantly, the lack of control over your search. Unlike other databases, there is no ability to combine searches, use subject headings and proximity searching (finding words close together) and only limited ability to sort and refine search results.