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Google and Google Scholar

Most people begin their research with Google, and sometimes Google Scholar. Google can be useful to get an overview, background information or to define terms. We all Google – but are you doing it effectively?

Using Advanced Google or Google Scholar improves your chance of obtaining relevant information. Research students are expected to use scholarly information and Google alone is insufficient.



  • Easy to use interface, high numbers of results from many sources, mainly full text
  • Good for definitions, background information (as long as you trust the source), government and NGO documents, reports from all sorts of organisations.


  • Uncontrolled content
  • Results are difficult to filter for particular types of documents and by date
  • Not the best source for scholarly and professional articles.

Google Advanced

Google Advanced lets you choose combinations of words – e.g., all these words, exact phrase or word etc., and narrow results by language, region, last update, site or domain, file type etc.

Google Scholar


  • Easy and familiar interface, high numbers of results, indexes scholarly information
  • Good for some subject areas (biological sciences, physical sciences, some branches of engineering), some formats e.g. conference papers
  • Can set up alerts
  • Provides citation counts
  • Can export citations to a reference manager, e.g. EndNote


  • Does not disclose sources indexed, subject coverage is uneven
  • It is a poor source for some formats e.g. industry standards
  • Some references are incomplete or inaccurate
  • It is difficult to filter and sort results
  • Access to full text may require payment.

 Best Practice Tip

Sign in to Google Scholar via the Library webpage to access full text that RMIT holds in linked databases.

See the image below for where to find Google Scholar on the RMIT Library homepage under the other sources heading.


Search Google Scholar using some of your research key words.

As you search make note of the following:

  1. The different types of resources in your results list
  2. Can you follow a link to the full text of the article or resource?
  3. Look for where to refine your search by date or relevance, and also where you can include (or exclude) patents and citations.

There are also further tools in Google Scholar to find related material. These are located under each of the titles listed in your search results.

Can you find the Cite, Cited by, Related articles and Save links? See below for an example.

See if you can also find where to Save an alert for your search. Saving an alert will provide an email feed for any new papers on your topic, as they are added to Google Scholar.

Image: Google 2018, Google Search result, ‘©2017 Google LLC, used with permission. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC’

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