Google Scholar: Researching Faster, Not Harder

http://scholar.google.com/

The best part of my library experience during grad school was the fact that I never had to actually go to the library to get the journal articles I needed for research. The digitized collection, readily available online with student login, was a tremendous time saver and an efficient means of staying current on educational research.

Upon the completion of my degree, I had to resign myself to the lack of accessibility to the wealth of digital journals I had enjoyed during my studies.   My spirits were lifted when I recently stumbled across Google Scholar (It was launched in 2004.  I am just slow).  Google Scholar is a solid research tool for students and teacher-leaders alike.  It is not a rival to what most universities are able to offer, but good nonetheless.

The keyword search mechanism is intuitive since it is, after all, Google’s familiar platform.  One key distinction of Scholar searching is the citation ranking.  This ranking system helps steer you to the articles you need instead of spending hours “Google wandering.”

Google Scholar is different from a general Google search because Scholar searches several “invisible” academic indexes.  I also like the fact that Google Scholar includes a feature that allows users to view what other publications cited the article in their research.

Google Scholar does have its limitations.  Any seasoned search-engine user knows that Google’s strength is breadth over depth when it comes to website indexing.  The same is true of Google Scholar.  Any commercial research database will always be more effective then Google Scholar in returning the most appropriate results.

Users should be aware that Google Scholar returns both free and for-purchase articles.  Despite the limitations, Google Scholar is a serviceable tool for starting the research process.

What other free research tools have you found?

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