Though most students knows about Google, few realize the power of Google Scholar. Unlike a regular Google search, Google Scholar limits its results to sources considered to be scholarly: books, journals, abstracts, theses, and even court cases. Also unlike Google, instead of ranking results by popularity, keyword, and past searches, Google Scholar examines the text in the documents, the credibility of the publication, and how often the work has been cited by other scholars. Particularly for high school students, Google Scholar can be a great research tool; and like all things Google, it also has a few hidden features that can prove to be invaluable.
1. Save and Organize Your Search Results
In high school, I remember learning the notecard system for tracking sources. Every time I read an article or book, I created numbered source cards so that I could remember where it came from. With Google Scholar, students can save and label specific search results so that they can easily create bibliographies and also find their sources again.
Once you have logged into Google Scholar with your Google account and found a source that you would like to save, click the save button under the link description. You can then find all of your saved searches and even label them to stay organized. The animation below shows how this could work.
2. Create Citation Alerts
Particularly if students are researching a topic over an extended period of time, or find themselves interested in the work of a specific scholar, citation alerts can be extremely helpful. Within Google Scholar, you can create an email alert pertaining to a specific topic or author. Want to keep up with the latest research about a topic like Global Warming? Interested in learning more about the work of an educational scholar? By creating a citation alert, this information can be delivered directly to your inbox. Not only can you create an alert for articles from a specific author but also for articles that cite that person. Now, instead of constantly searching for updates, they can come to you!
3. Add Your Library to Google Scholar
One of the challenges with using scholarly literature is that the results are often secured in databases. However, librarians have amazing powers and often possess subscriptions to some of the larger database systems like Ebsco, ERIC, and ProQuest. You may need to ask your librarian for help, but it is possible to connect your library databases to your Google Scholar account.
Assuming that this has been set up, navigate to the Settings gear in Google Scholar and then click on Library Links. From here, you can search for your library and add it to your account. Then, depending on your library’s configuration, you can access articles directly from the search page though you may end up having to login to your library to view the results.
As older students develop stronger reading and research skills, Google Scholar unlocks the entire world of scholarly literature and also gives students the tools to manage their findings.