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A first look at Google Scholar: What's included and what's not

The newest Google search tool, Google Scholar, indexes the full text of scholarly literature in a wide range of research areas and includes pointers to books, articles in peer-reviewed journals, preprints, and technical reports. If you find an article citation in Google Scholar without access to the full text, use the Library's PennText Article Finder. For books, use the Franklin Catalog to determine if the Penn Library owns a copy.

About Google Scholar

  • Google Scholar indexes a subset of scholarly literature in all fields. Coverage appears to be strongest in science and technology, and for scholarship that is available online.
  • The content of search results varies. Much full text is available, but links often lead only to abstracts or citations. Some duplicate and fragmentary entries appear, as well as variant editions of works (e.g. search results may include a preprint and postprint of a work, as well as the version published in a journal).
  • Search results include links to cited references. This makes it possible to find articles and books related to the topic you initially searched, as well as works that cite a work that you searched for. As with Google Web Search, items with more citations from other highly-ranked sources appear at the top of result rankings. For more comprehensive cross-disciplinary citation searching, try Web of Knowledge.
  • Google Scholar searches both open access scholarly sites (e.g. repositories and scholarly societies) as well as commercial publishers. It does not cover all such sites and publishers, however.

Making the most of Google Scholar and the Penn Library's research resources

  • Many of the electronic resources the Penn Library provides to the campus community through paid subscriptions are searchable in Google Scholar. We also subscribe to other indexing services that may provide deeper and more tightly focused literature and citation searches in specific fields. These include Science Direct, LexisNexis Academic, Business Source Premier, OvidMEDLINE, and Onefile and CSA Multidatabase Search, both of which cover a multitude of publications across disciplines.
  • When you are searching on a computer that is connected directly to the Penn network (e.g. in a dorm room or office) you can often follow Google Scholar links to the full text of resources that are part of library subscriptions.
  • When connecting directly to Google Scholar from an off campus computer that is not on the Penn network, this same full text may not be accessible. Instead, Google Scholar's links may lead you to an offer to purchase an article or report from the company that is providing it. You might also be directed towards a free variant edition on another website, but that might not be the same content as the version in a scholarly publication. To more easily reach resources that are part of Penn Library subscriptions, start your Google Scholar search from the Library's web. Type google in the E-Resource Locator to reach the proxied link. This will provide the same access to resources as when you are working on a computer connected directly to the Penn network.
  • If you begin your search directly from the Google Scholar search page, in order to determine if the Penn Library provides free full text for an item, you will need to search through the Library's web by using the PennText Article Finderor E-Resource Locator.
If you have questions about Google Scholar, or need assistance with your research, please contact us.

For more information:
Marjorie Hassen