Google Scholar ... beyond the search

  • Google Scholar (GS) is most recognized as a web search engine and index that enables researchers search publications from across the content of many repositories, libraries, databases and journals for scholarly content. GS searches the literature from an array of disciplines, languages and formats from one convenient place. The Google Scholar Case Law database is also a strongly desirable part of the GS service.

    However, beyond its search capabilities, Google Scholar (GS) has many other features that make it an invaluable tool for the competitive research environment of today. It can correctly be referred to as a “suite of tools” for researchers. The following are affordances of GS which you may not be using presently, but which should extend your use of the tool.

    Create a library: Develop a collection of literature that is of interest to you including abstracts, articles, books, conference papers, theses and other scholarly literature. To create a library on your GS account, run your search using the best keywords, evaluate the results and click on the star icon to get the item added to your library. Your library’s content can be accessed from your My Library anytime and anywhere once you are online.

    Verify citations: For those times when you have incomplete details or incorrect/partial citations, Google Scholar provides an opportunity to resolve the bibliographic details of such citations. Locate the document using an author, title or keyword search. Check the result and verify other versions of it if necessary. Click on Cite “ icon to find the properly formatted citation in your preferred style (APA, MLA etc) and in format (BibTex, EndNote etc.) This can easily be imported to your word document.

    Scope the literature of your field or topic of interest: Before embarking on literature review or even in the process of conceptualizing your research, it is a good habit to scope and map the literature of your topic. Read this excellent resource from Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega: How to do a literature review: citation tracing, concept saturation and result’s mind mapping at . Scoping can be done by conducting a search using appropriate key words. Thereafter, look out for Related articles - a link under the items retrieved in the results of the search. Study this to identify what others are working on, trends, methods, keywords, journals that are publishing in the topic of interest, etc. Based on the keyword or title search, you can find prominent studies in your area of interest. This is indicated by the high citation registered in the cited by link. These key literature make up the important resources you must consult and plan your literature review on.

    Find out the experts in your discipline or specialization: Once you have provided the correct information of your research interest in your profile area, you can identify other researchers in your specific discipline ranked according to popularity (based on number of citation). What can you do with this information? Find possible collaborators, people to follow (on Twitter, LinkedIn , ResearchGate and other academic social platforms) or researchers you can follow their work for developments in your field. To know who is working in your discipline, go to your profile and click on the highlighted area of specialization. A second approach: Click on Profile from the triple horizontal lines, input the name of the particular researcher you may be interested in to view his or her profile (works, metrics e.t.c.).

    Create a Google Scholar Alert: A GS Alert would provide an e-mail notification of new literature in a researcher’s area of interest if they sign up for it. In order to sign up for the Alert service click on the Alert Tab/Link with the Envelop icon, request for alert on the topic of interest.

    Find the top journals in your field:
    Click on Metrics with the (chart icon) and filter by subject area (category and sub-category) to find top journals in your discipline. I am sure this will help in choosing impact /safe journals in these times of predatory journal invasion!

    Kindly click here  to see more of how Google Scholar supports researchers.