A Note on Google Scholar

As you complete your questions you may find yourself using the popular Internet search engine Google Scholar, which can be a valuable tool for retrieving “gray literature” that may not be published in the journals indexed by other databases. However, search with caution and remember:

  • Google Scholar’s results are numerous and not necessarily displayed in a helpful order. For example, an article from 1992 may be at the top of your results, while a 2016 article may not appear until 10 pages later. Additionally, while you can limit to specific year ranges, Google Scholar doesn’t allow you to simply order your results by date, author, etc., which many subscription databases do.
  • The sources searched by Google Scholar are not disclosed, so you will never know exactly what information you are or are not searching.
  • Google Scholar does return results from PubMed. However, some research suggests that PubMed results found by Google Scholar may be as much as a year out of date.1
  • Currently it is unknown how often Google Scholar is updated. Be advised that this means you may be missing critical recent literature.

For tips and hints for best searching Google Scholar check out: Advanced Scholar Search Tips.

1.   Giustini, D., & Barsky, E. (2005). A look at Google Scholar, PubMed and Scirus: Comparisons and recommendations. Journal of the Canadian Health Library Association: 26,85-89.