Google Scholar is essentially a specialised web search engine that searches scholarly resources.
It's like the science search engine, Scirus, in that it covers specific scholarly material as opposed to the web in general.
Google Scholar uses the powerful Google searching algorithms, and when the results are displayed, it indexes the fulltext of results, links to related articles, and lists who the articles are cited by.
So in general, Google Scholar sounds like the definitive cross-resource scholarly searching and linking engine! However, it's not perfect, and there are some very important caveats to keep in mind if you use it
- It doesn't distinguish between articles you have access to, and articles you don't. So a list of search results might display an article, but that doesn't mean that you'll be able to read it. If the Library subscribes to a database that's listed in the search results, when you click on the link, you'll be brought to the fulltext of the article. But if we don't have a subscription, chances are you'll meet a frustrating dead-end when trying to read the article.
- The Google Scholar search interface isn't very advanced. So if you want to perform a complicated search using lots of restrictions (e.g. 'AND', 'OR','NOT' etc.), chances are you won't be able to do it very effectively. The search interfaces of Library databases are much more advanced and will return better results.
- Google Scholar is very secretive about its coverage. Some big databases, e.g. Science Direct will not feature in searches, so using Scholar will lead to incomplete results. Google will not provide a definitive list of databases used in searches so you never know what you might be missing out on.
The library has taken steps to help you avoid meeting these dead-ends when using Scholar. When you do a search, take a look at the links at the bottom of each result. Sometimes you'll see a link that says More info @ NUI, Galway (see below)
If you click this link, it will bring you to our SFX linking service, which will link you to some of the Library's databases that will have more information on the article, as well as holdings information if we have the article on hardcopy.
Sometimes, we'll be able to bring you straight to the full-text of the article. Take a look at your list of results, and if you see a link that says Full-Text@NUI, Galway beside the title of the result (see below), you'll be brought straight throught to the full-text in one of our databases.
Some people use Google Scholar because it can search the holdings of different databases at once; but don't forget we offer this service too! E-Knowledge lets you cross-search, so you can search multiple databases at the same time. And with E-Knowledge, you'll be guranteed to always have full access to the search results!