5 Google Academic Search

Kishan Sutariya

Introduction

Google provides a variety of tools for searching for online content. These tools include but are not limited to their web, blog, patent, finance, shopping book, and scholar search engine. A detailed list of all their products can be found below.

With Google’s variety of tools, a multitude of content can be found on the web. We are primarily going to focus on the academic search portion of Google’s arsenal and take a look at Google Scholar and Google Books.

Google Scholar is a web search engine that provides access to educational literature through a variety of sources. It can be accessed at scholar.google.com. Google’s website describes Google Scholar as follows:

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.

Google Scholar enables you to search all scholarly literature from one location, while retaining the ability to cite the publications, keep up with various developments in a certain industry or area, and link with your library or look up the document on the web. Google Scholar launched its beta version in November 2004 and added features based on demand, including the ability to cite articles  in 2006, and digitize and host journal articles in 2007. Google Scholar exists to provide a specialized search engine for scholarly literature, in comparison with the standard Google search which has information from a variety of sources.

You should use Google Scholar when looking for publications and scholarly articles on your topic. A good example would be if you were looking for academic articles on “iPhone Success”, Google Scholar would provide a better set of results then the standard search on Google. This is evident below with Google Scholar results coming up in the regular search. However, using Google Scholar may not be the best tool in all cases, which I will discuss later in the chapter.

 

Google Books is a web search engine that provides access to published books that Google has scanned and documented. Google Books is located at books.google.com. Below is a detailed description of Google Books from Google’s website.

Google Books not only allows you to search for different books and within them but also preview different chapters and pages, buy the book or borrow from the library, browse books online, and access book reviews, web references, maps, and more. Google Books exists because it provides you with the ability to search through millions of books for your relevant topic, keywords, or even quotes.

You should use this tool when you are dealing with any project or topic that deals with books at all whether that be trying to find book pertinent to the topic, finding quotes within books, looking for books by a certain author, trying to preview a few pages of the book before purchasing, or even figuring out which library or ebookstore has the title for sale. An example would be if you were searching for books on “High Frequency Trading” instead of going to the library, using Google Books the results below would be listed. Also, upon clicking those results you would be able to see if they were available for purchase online or at stores nearby.

Specialized search strategies

Both, Google Scholar and Google Books, allow you to use Google’s standard search operators such as “intitle”,”-“,”+”, and many more which are referenced in the Search Techniques video located here. Using these search engines when looking for high quality content with search operators will greatly enhance the precision of your results!

Google Scholar

How to use

Google Scholar can be accessed via the URL scholar.google.com. Once at the at URL you will be greeted with a homepage like below:

Once at the homepage you will notice there is only one input box. This input box is where you the search query will be entered. For example, if you were looking for high frequency trading you would enter that in the search box and you would get the results below:

A couple key things to notice while looking at the search results are that there is the source mentioned on the right for most of the articles (if not the source can be derived from the URL), the authors are written directly below the title, ad the year of the publication is written below the title as well. Additionally, a small excerpt of the literature piece is featured in the search results. By looking at result 2, it can be discerned that the paper is written about “High Frequency Trading” but mentions the Flash Crash which took place in 2010 when the DJIA fell almost 1000 points.

Comparison with Google Web search

Google Scholar uses a completely different repository of sources compared to Google Web search, therefore producing different results. As mentioned earlier, Google Scholar “uses articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar also uses a different ranking engine than the standard Google Web, which uses link backs and many other criteria in its rankings. Google Scholar attempts to rank documents with a similar process as researchers do by weighing the text of the document, the publication date, the publication location, the authors, as well as how frequently and recently the document has been cited in other literature. Google Web search has its strengths in finding web pages relevant to the search while Google Scholar has its strength in finding scholarly literature relevant to the search. Google Web search also benefits from incorporating pictures and knowledge graphs among many other types of results, while Google Scholar focuses solely on scholarly articles limiting its breadth. However, Google Web search provides a great number of results which can be tedious to sort through compared to a smaller number of results that Google Scholar provides with Google Scholars generally having more precision. An example is posted below with the search query “High Frequency Trading”:

 

Looking at Google Scholar’s results it’s easy to see that all the results are relevant to the search query with the top results being ones that have been published within the last year and by reputable institutions like Deutsche Bank and Berkeley. Looking at Google Web searches results it can be see that there is a mixture of results with some being web pages, others videos, and some news articles and sponsored book results in the mix as well. It is clear that Google Scholar is great for researching topics regarding industries or technical searches. An example of when Google Web search returns better results is for topics that are always changing and not scholarly in nature. An example of this would be the search query “iPhone market share”. Below is a side by side comparison of Google Web search and Google Scholar:

Based on the results from the search its clear that no scholarly literature was relevant to the search query with only the last result having an actual numerical value which was published in 2010 making it outdated. This is one of the flaws of using Google Scholar, as the results may not be the most up to date. If you look at the Google Web search results there are many web pages that are more recent, as of this writing in November 2012, with exact numbers and charts being featured.

How to get the most out of it

In order to get the most out of Google Scholar it is recommended that you log in. That can be done by clicking the sign in icon in upper right when you visit scholar.google.com. Once you sign in you can set different preferences with a full list of them below:

  • Collections (articles or legal documents)
  • Results per page
  • When results open action
  • Bibliography Manager
  • Langauges
  • Library Links
The most important setting to configure is on the left side, Library Links.
Under the library links tab it is useful to type in libraries that you may have access to like your universities or cities. Once you type in the search query it will provide you with the availability at the library you inputted earlier and once click will bring you straight to that book.
Search operators are also very helpful with Google Scholar. Any of the standard Google Web search operators will work with Google Scholar. Also, the left hand column provides a healthy amount of filtering and advanced search options as well. If you are looking for the “High Frequency Trading” in the title of scholarly literature you can use the Google Web Search operator intitle:”High Frequency Trading” to get those results. You can further narrow these results by using the left column and clicking “Custom Range” and putting in a range, 2006 – 2008, and get results from that range. Below is an example of the results:

You can also note in the results that on the right there is a link to the library, University of Michigan, that I have added, providing a quick way to access the full text of that article. In addition, there are specific search operators that Google Scholar and tips that Google recommends. Below is an excerpt of them:

Finding recent papers

Your search results are normally sorted by relevance, not by date. To find newer articles, try the following options in the left sidebar:

  1. click “Since Year” to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance;
  2. click “Sort by date” to show just the new additions, sorted by date;
  3. click the envelope icon to have new results periodically delivered by email.

Locating the full text of an article

Abstracts are freely available for most of the articles. Alas, reading the entire article may require a subscription. Here’re a few things to try:

  1. click a library link, e.g., “FindIt@Harvard”, to the right of the search result;
  2. click a link labeled [PDF] to the right of the search result;
  3. click “All versions” under the search result and check out the alternative sources;
  4. click “Related articles” or “Cited by” under the search result to explore similar articles.

If you’re affiliated with a university, but don’t see links such as “FindIt@Harvard”, please check with your local library about the best way to access their online subscriptions. You may need to do search from a computer on campus, or to configure your browser to use a library proxy.

Getting better answers

  • If you’re new to the subject, it may be helpful to pick up the terminology from secondary sources. E.g., a Wikipedia article for “overweight” might suggest a Scholar search for “pediatric hyperalimentation”.
  • If the search results are too specific for your needs, check out what they’re citing in their “References” sections. Referenced works are often more general in nature.
  • Similarly, if the search results are too basic for you, click “Cited by” to see newer papers that referenced them. These newer papers will often be more specific.
  • Explore! There’s rarely a single answer to a research question. Click “Related articles” or “Cited by” to see closely related work, or search for author’s name and see what else they have written.[8]

Google Books instructions

How to use

Google Books can be accessed via the URL books.google.com. Once at that URL you will be greeted with a homepage like below:

Once at this homepage you can search for an author, book title, phrase, or any query and get search results that will consist of books. If you want to search for books by Malcolm Gladwell you can use the search “Malcolm Gladwell” and your results would contain books with the words Malcolm or Gladwell in the results. This doesn’t necessary mean that the author of the books would be Malcolm Gladwell, but luckily most of the results that come up are books that he has written. Below are the results of the query “Malcolm Gladwell”

If you are searching for a quote from a book you can type the phrase in with quotations marks surrounding it and get the book that contains the quote as a result. For example, the “10000 hour rule” is written about in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, to figure out which one searching Google Books with the query “10000 hour rule” the results will be books that have that quote in it. Below are the results of the query:

As you can see from the results it is clear that Outliers: The Story of Success is the book that contains the 10,000 hour rule. If you are trying to search for a specific topic and find books to learn more about the topic Google Books can come in handy also. For example, using the search query “Objective C Programming”, a list of books with topics or content that feature “Objective C Programming” will be displayed. The results of the query are listed below:

As you can see from the results there are a lot of books that can teach you how to learn Objective C Programming, titles range from Objective-C Programming For Dummies to Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide.

Comparison with Google Web search

Google Books searches only published books, while Google Web search crawls the entire web including book results. This means that Google Web search will have a much greater number of results compared to Google Books, however Google Books will only return books pertinent to the topic. The pros of using Google Books, compared to Google Web search, is that the results of the search will only have books so if you are looking for books with a certain quote, phrase, topic, or by a specific author you will be able to do so. However, Google Web search wins out with providing information that may be the most up to date. This is true because if you are looking for a book on “Objective C Programming”, if new information has presented itself, it may take a while for a book to be published with up to date information; however, it is much easier to update a website to reflect new information. Below are the results of the search “Objective C Programming” on both Google Web search and Google Books.

The results above illustrate how different the results of both search engines can be. Google Books has a much smaller pool to search through, since it is only books, and therefore returns 568,000 results. Alternatively, Google Web search goes through web pages and other content returning 13,000,000 results.

How to get the most out of it

Google Books links closely with your Google Account to track the books you search and separates them into different categories:

  • My Library
  • My Books on Google Play
  • Favorites
  • Reading Now
  • To Read
  • Have Read
  • Books for you
  • My History
Below is a screenshot of the profile page:
Google Play is Google’s version of the Apple App store and through the Google Books engine you can purchase ebooks directly to your Google Play account, ultimately syncing the books to your devices. This is very useful because if you’re searching for a book and find something you’re interested in you can instantly purchase it and it will sync to your device. Additionally, Google Books uses a recommendation engine so you can see books that may be of interest to you based on your past search results; this feature is located under the “Books for you” category on the left side. Below is a screenshot of Google’s recommendations based on my past searches:
In order to aid you with your searching, since normal search operators don’t necessarily work well with Google Books, Google has provided an advanced search page that enables you to filter your search based on
  • Book Type
  • Content
  • Language
  • Title
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • Subject
  • Publication Date
  • ISBN
  • ISSN
Below you will find a screenshot of all the different advanced search parameters.

Recommendation

Google Scholar comes in handy when looking for scholarly literature about a topic and getting very credible results. However, Google Scholar’s results sometimes are too complex and difficult to grasp than a webpage that Google Web search would return; also, Google Scholar takes quite a bit of time to update with new information as new literature has to be published then Google Scholar has to index it then the results can be displayed. For a topic like “Research in Motion”, Blackberry’s parent company, it may be useful to use Google Web search to explore RIM’s website and read the Wikipedia article and then use Google Scholar to read up on some academic articles and studies on RIM.

Google Books is useful when looking for books on a certain topic, for example “Objective C Programming” or “High Frequency Trading”, however Google Web search may provide more up to date information as web pages are easier to update. Google Web search also benefits from the ability to provide more concise information. If you were looking for a book on “Objective C Programming”, Google Books is a great tool, however if you are looking to do a quick read on what “Objective C Programming” is Google Web search will provide you results that will be much shorter than a few hundred page book.

Overall, Google’s academic search tools are valuable for web searching, but only in certain circumstances. Using a hybrid search approach of both Google Web search, for webpages which may be more up to date, and Google Academic Search engines, for scholarly and book results on your search query, you will be able to get the best results.

Appendix

An annotated list of relevant links/resources.

Google’s Product Lists, http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/products/, I used this to list the products that Google offers

Google, http://www.google.com, I used various Google queries during my search

Google Scholar About, http://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/about.html, I used this to document the features of Google Scholar

Google Scholar Citations, http://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/citations.html#overview, I used this to document the citation feature of Google Scholar

Google Scholar Timeline, http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbReader.asp?ArticleId=37309, I used this to write about the history of Google Scholar

Google Books, http://books.google.com/intl/en/googlebooks/about.html, I used this to write about Google Books

Google Books Search, http://books.google.com/, I used this to perform different search queries

Google Books Search Operators, http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=136861, I used this to document the search operators that Google Books offers

Google Scholar Help Page, http://scholar.google.com/intl/en-US/scholar/help.html, I used this to document additionally features of Google Scholar

About the author

Kishan Sutariya is a junior pursuing a BBA specializing in Information Technology, Strategy, and Finance. He has a strong entrepreneurial and technological background starting up a technology consulting firm and a data processing firm. He enjoys traveling, working with technology and high performance automobiles.

License

Google Academic Search Copyright © 2013 by Kishan Sutariya. All Rights Reserved.

Feedback/Errata

2 Responses to Google Academic Search

  1. casegold on December 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm says:

    Overall you’ve got a great start to your chapter. I just have a few recommendations on how to clean it up a little bit.

    FORMATTING: Good use of headers and quote call-out boxes. You could break up the paragraphs a bit more to make it easier to read. As it is there are many long paragraphs which could be broken down into more concise thoughts that can be followed more easily by the reader.

    The really long quote box in the “How to get the most out of Google Scholar” section should just be linked to, as it is too long for a quote. Either that or an image could be used.

    WRITING: There is an extra comma in the second sentence of the Intro section, “web, blog, patent, finance, shopping book,, and scholar search engine”

    The following sentence from the intro section is a bit awkward, “Google Scholar exists to provide a specialized search engine for scholarly literature, in comparison with the standard Google search which has information of varying credentials.”

    LINKS & IMAGES: Good use of images, but sometimes you simply use an image without giving an explanation of its relevance and associated analysis. I would recommend adding on these to clarify what readers should take away from the images. I like how you use an image of the tool and linked it to the resource before each section.

    Also, in the “Specialized search strategies” section you reference the “Search Techniques” book chapter. It would be better if you linked there as well!

    INFORMS: The How to Use sections could be a bit more developed. They should be focused to someone who is already familiar with using Google for searches.

    ANALYSIS & REASONING: In the intro you show an image to prove that Google Scholar results are better than regular search, but the reasons are not explained. I don’t think it is clear which search is better based on the image alone without any description.

    EVALUATION: After reading this I am not entirely sure when Google Scholar is better and worse than the standard Google Search.

    LENGTH: Appropriate length.

  2. joshyu on December 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm says:

    Overall, I appreciated the thoroughness of your article. I think if someone read your book without knowing prior what Google Scholar and Google Books were about, they would leave with a solid understanding.

    Formatting: In your “Comparison with Google Web search” section, I think it would be best to somehow give a bold/emphasize the example that you are going to give. So maybe there’s another section (smaller header) for your HTF example.
    When you are going to list bullet points, I would suggest having a clear title for each bullet point list. Also, if you could find more paragraphs to bullet point them (e.g. recommendation), I think the article would be easier to read and the readers will have a better chance in leaving your article with the main points you wanted to emphasize.

    Writing: I think the writing is very clear. Your sentences tend to be quite long (not always necessarily bad), because you like to use ;, however, also, etc. Just be careful with that.

    Informs: Definitely informs the reader. Like I said before, you do a very thorough job in informing us what the two services are about.

    Analysis & Reasoning: I think you do a great job in giving the pros/cons of each service and in what situations one service might be advantageous to use. However, I felt that you could emphasize them a little more in your article (formatting issue) to make it clear to readers when/what is Google Scholars/Books good at.

    Evaluation – I think you did a great job, my biggest suggestion would be to format your article a little clearer so that people can clearly see the main points you wanted to emphasize in each section.