Using Google for research
Advice to help you optimise use of Google Scholar, Google Books and Google for your research and study.
Use Google Scholar to find e-journal articles, material from institutional repositories and book chapters from many different sources. The benefit of using Google Scholar is that you can search for scholarly literature, across disciplines and formats, from a single screen.
In addition to Library resources, Google Scholar can be a good starting point for your research as it will give you an overview of what published material exists on your topic.
Watch the video below to learn how to connect Google Scholar to your University of Edinburgh account:
- Video: Adding full-text links on Google Scholar
- A demonstration of linking University of Edinburgh subscriptions to Google Scholar, for article-level links in your results lists.
Finding full text
You can use the 'Library links' facility in Google Scholar's Advanced Settings menu to establish links to the Library's subscribed journals. If the Library subscribes to the e-journal or resource, you should see a link to Findit@Edinburgh to the right of the Google Scholar search results - this will guide you via the Library to access the full text.
Always check with the Library before making any payment to access an article as you may actually be entitled to FREE access.
If you find you can’t read the full text via Google Scholar, there’s a few things you can try:
- Check DiscoverEd and the ejournal A-Z to see if the Library subscribes to the journal. It may be that the Library subscribes to that particular e-journal from a different source.
- Try another search using the author’s name and keywords from the title to find out if the article is available from another source. Then check if you can access it via Google Scholar or if it's available via the ejournal A-Z or DiscoverEd.
- Check the A-Z database list on the Library website to find out if the Library provides access to the database or online resource.
- Check DiscoverEd to find out if the Library has bought the e-book.
There will be times when full text of an e-journal article or book chapter is not available from the Library. When this happens, visiting another library that holds the item, or requesting an Inter-Library Loan, may be an option.
Google Books provides access to millions of scanned books. You can read selected chapters of some titles and the full text of others.
Google Books can give you the opportunity to find out if a book is useful to you before going to the Library, or purchasing the title. If you’re lucky, you may find that the chapter you need is available to read online for free.
‘About this book’ provides you with an overview which will help you evaluate a book’s quality and relevance.
Books available to read via Google Books may not be the most recent edition. However, information about other editions is provided.
Don’t forget to check DiscoverEd to find out if a more recent edition is available.
Remember to acknowledge and cite your source. Bibliographic information is provided at the foot of the 'About this book' page to help you do this.
If the Library doesn’t have a copy, check if another library has it and then request a copy from Interlibrary Loans.
If you think the Library should hold a copy, you can make a request using the students’ book suggestion form:
Google search tips
Google is easy to use and returns results very quickly. However, sometimes there is just too much information. There are some tips below to help you search more effectively and find relevant results.
- Use more than one search term (or keyword) when you search
- Search for exact phrases or names using quotation marks for example “Robert Louis Stevenson”
Use advanced search to refine your search to return fewer, more relevant, results.
Advanced search allows you to:
- Combine search terms
- Select where you want your search terms to appear on a page, for example, in the title or in the text
- Search by date
- Search by country
- Limit your search to a single domain
- Limit the number of results displayed
- Search for a specific file type
Search within a site or domain
Advanced search is particularly useful to limit your search to a specific site or domain, for example: ac.uk or bbc.co.uk.
Many large organisations, especially government organisations, have vast amounts of information that can be difficult to find.
Think about where you’re likely to find the information you’re looking for. Is it likely to be contained within a government site? If yes, in the ‘Search within a site or domain’ field use ‘gov.uk’. If the information could have been published by the NHS in Scotland use ‘scot.nhs.uk’.
The domain can also help determine if the website is from a credible source.
Evaluate the information you find
Before using information you find on the internet for assignments and research, it is important to judge its accuracy and to establish that the information comes from a reliable and appropriate source.
Advice is available to help you do this:
How to evaluate website content
Remember other search engines are available!