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Effective Database Searching: Google Scholar

This guide to key library databases helps you decide which databases to use and assists you in searching them more effectively.

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar Overview

Google Scholar is primarily a search tool for locating academic papers, although, it also includes theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports and other scholarly literature from a wide research spectrum across various publishing modes. Additionally, court opinions and patents are covered.


- Looks for scholarly sources from broad areas of research and includes working papers known as "grey literature"

- For research on unfamiliar topics, it gives an idea of the types of materials available and the authors and journal titles connected with the topic

- Frequently cited papers rise to the top of search results so it's useful for finding classic references and for examining citation data

-  Occasionally provides a link or way of accessing full text. Click on links labeled [PDF] or [HTML] if available at the right of the search result's title and/or try the get it! link, when connected to the Mayo network, to access the Mayo Clinic Libraries catalog.  Intructions for setting up the get it! link in Google Scholar are available here.

- Provides automatic formating of references according to APA, MLA and Chicago styles (look for the "cite" link under each citation)

- Strong, in comparison with Web of Science and Scopus, in indexing and providing citation data for the non-journal article materials it indexes

- Its indexing of preprints may give citation information far ahead of Web of Science or Scopus, which only index published materials.

- Unlike Web of Science, you can search by article title for cited reference searching


- Not exhaustive in coverage so you should still search one or more discipline-specific databases provided by the Mayo Clinic Libraries in order to be thorough (typically not included are shorter articles, such as book reviews, news sections, editorials, announcements and letters, untitled documents and documents without authors, and website URLs that aren't available to the search robots or to the majority of web users).

- May misinterpret citations, provide erroneous figures as to times cited, and produce results with redundant entries.

-May lead to articles from predatory journals since there is no quality journal vetting as with traditional scholarly databases.

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