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Google Scholar: Search Tips

Use this guide to learn about maximizing Google Scholar for your research.

Select Document Type

Use the buttons below the basic search box to choose the type of documents you wish to find:

  • Articles - all documents covered by Google Scholar, except for case law
    • Include patents or not
  • Case law - select case law across all jurisdictions or from particular state and federal courts

Choose Where to Search

Search for your terms anywhere in the full article or limit your search to terms in the title of the article.

  • anywhere in the article - will return a more complete set of articles related to your topic, but will also include more articles of less relevance because the term appears somewhere, but is not a major concept in the article
  • in the title of the article - will return a more focused, but smaller, set of results since terms in the title of an article tend to be major concepts in the article. Some relevant articles will be missed because the terms appear in the text, but not the title.

Choose Advanced Search

. . . by clicking on the hamburger icon (hamburger iconin the upper left corner of the Google Scholar search page

location of the hamburger icon and advanced search on Google Scholar in the upper left portion of the window

Advanced Search Box

Enter your subject search terms in the top four boxes according to how you want the terms to be combined.

Searching by Author, Journal, or Phrase

Enter one or more names in the "Return articles authored by" box to search for specific authors.

  • Use quotation marks when searching for a first name or initials along with the last name to ensure all will appear in the same name.     "michael w collins"      "m w collins"
  • Enter initials with or without a space between them.     "m w collins"     "mw collins"
  • The order of the first and last name makes little difference to the search.                                      "michael collins"      "collins michael"

To return results from a particular journal or publication, enter the publication title as either:

  • full title:                 Nature                  Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • abbreviation:       J Biol Chem        Rev Educ Res

Note:  Journal titles may be abbreviated in more than one way. Searching abbreviations will not return records with the full title, and vice versa. To be thorough, search both the full title and alternative forms of abbreviation:

  • J Am Chem Soc ;  J Amer Chem Soc  ;  Journal of the American Chemical Society  ;   JACS
  • Entering terms in the "with the exact phrase" box will search for the phrase exactly as it was entered.
  • Use quotation marks in any other box to specify an exact phrase you want to search for or exclude.
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Google Scholar Search Tips

Use operators to refine your search terms. Google Scholar also supports most of the advanced operators in Google web search:

  • the "-" operator excludes all results that include this search term, as in [biomedicine -magnetic]
  • phrase search only returns results that include this exact phrase, as in ["as you like it"]
  • the "~" operator will find synonyms for that word, as in [~robotics]
  • the "OR" operator returns results that include either of your search terms, as in [soccer OR football]
  • the "intitle:" operator as in [intitle:mars] only returns results that include your search term in the document's title
  • the "author" operator [author:flowers] returns papers written by people with the name Flowers, whereas [flowers -author:flowers] returns papers about flowers, and ignores papers written by people with the name Flowers
  • using quotes around a common word makes sure your results include common words, letters or numbers that Google's search technology generally ignores, as in ["the" border]

Automatic Related Term Searching

Google Scholar automatically searches for simple singular and plural forms of terms you enter, along with additional different endings to some words, and for some related terms.  For example:

  • sport   returns     sport ;  sports
  • diet     returns       diet ;  diets ;  dietary
  • woman  may return   woman  or  woman ;  women ;  female

The number of related terms included in the results may depend on the search being conducted. This feature cannot be turned off, and there is no separate truncation search that allows the user to designate that a term should be searched with any possible ending.