Google Scholar is a search product from Google that focuses on scholarly literature. Much like the main Google search engine, Google Scholar is wide-ranging and relies mainly on keyword searching, which will often return many results but not always relevant ones. It is best used to locate a specific citation (for example, an exact title of an article) or to search the literature on a topic that covers several domains. Google Scholar can be a good compliment when searching other databases like PubMed or Web of Science to ensure that all of the literature on a topic is captured. However, some of the information provided by Google Scholar should be used with caution, such as the citation count for articles which is not always an accurate number.
The best method to use Google Scholar is to connect it to library-provided subscriptions. Once connected, Google Scholar will indicate which articles are available in full-text online via the library subscriptions and provide a link to access them.
The easiest way to enable this connection is to use the library-provided link that will already include the necessary settings and will ensure off-campus access to full-text articles (UNI/password authentication required):
Alternatively, set-up Google Scholar for an individual account by following these steps:
- Go to http://scholar.google.com
- Look at the left corner menu icon and click Settings from the menu
- Click on Library Links from the navigation bar along the side of the page
- Search for the following locations in the Library Links then click on the Search button
- Columbia University in the City of New York
- Teachers College Library, Columbia University
- Check the box in the front of each and then click Save in the lower right corner
Once these settings are enabled, searches in Google Scholar will include a link on the right-hand side of the results to connect to full-text articles available online (the link will say “Columbia e-link” or “Full-Text @ TC”).
One thing to note about searches in Google Scholar is that it only links to electronic resources. Columbia University Libraries has a large collection of older print journals at our offsite shelving facility, ReCAP, and Google Scholar will not indicate this access. When searching for articles published prior to 2010, it is recommended to search the online catalog, CLIO, for the journal title and check if the library owns a print copy of the needed volume/issue. Then follow these written instructions or this video to request the offsite facility scan and email the article.