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Education

This guide highlights resources related to education.

Google Scholar logo.

Google Scholar can be a helpful tool for broad searching and for locating related documents to materials that you already have. In addition to being able to search an enormous volume of resources, Google Scholar can also help you organize your documents with its "My library" function that stores links to your favorite articles.

While Google Scholar can be helpful because it is able to search across such a large volume of materials, remember that running a detailed search in a subject specific database may help you identify higher quality materials even if there is a lower quantity of results. The best practice is to use all of the tools available to you: run searches in the library catalog, Worldcat Discovery, subject specific databases, and Google Scholar. By using all of these tools, you can discover more resources and practice your skills at developing strong search strings to return quality results.


Setting Up a Google Scholar Account

You can search for resources on Google Scholar without an account, but you will need to have a Google account if you want to store your materials in your Google Scholar library.

Click "SIGN IN" in the upper right hand corner of the page to login with an existing Google account or create a new one using the prompts.

Create a Google Account window.

Note: If you do not want to use an existing account or your personal Google account, you can create a new one and select "Use your existing email address" then enter your NSU email address to create and verify the new account. This also prevents you from creating a new Gmail address when setting up a Google account. Learn more directly from Google here: Create a Google Account

Searching with Google Scholar

Running a basic search in Google Scholar is essentially the same as your standard Google search. The major difference is that Google Scholar will only return results for scholarly literature (books, papers, articles, etc.) instead of websites from across the internet.

Google Scholar basic search.

To run a basic search, enter your relevant search terms and hit enter/return or click the magnifying glass button.

Using the Advanced Search features of Google Scholar, you can restrict your search to specific words, phrases, authors, publications, and publishing timeframes.

To access the advanced search menu, click the three-lined "hamburger" menu in the upper left corner of the Google Scholar search page. From the menu, select Advanced Search:

Google Scholar menu and selection o "Advanced Search" GIF.


Now that you have launched the Advanced Search pop-up window, you can limit your results by utilizing one or more of the fields provided:

Google Scholar Advanced Search.

With all the words:

  • This will only return results that have all of the words listed in the search box.
  • This is the equivalent of inserting the Boolean operator AND between each term.

With the exact phrase:

  • This will only return results the the exact phrase that is entered in the box.
  • This kind of search works well for differentiating phrases that could otherwise lead to unwanted results. For example, entering Norfolk State University in this field will only return results that include the exact phrase "Norfolk State University". If the same search was performed not as a phrase in the basic keyword search, the results would include items with results for each word: Norfolk, State, and University.
  • This is the equivalent of using " " in most search engines.

With at least one of the words:

  • This will return results for any of the words entered in the box.
  • This is the equivalent of inserting the Boolean operator OR between each term.

Without these words:

  • This will exclude items that include the words entered in this search box.
  • This kind of exclusion can be helpful for differentiation. For example, if you are trying to research The Chrysler Museum and want to avoid articles about Chrysler automobiles, you could enter "automobile" in this search box.
  • Use caution with exclusion as this type of search does not differentiate between substantive and incidental inclusions of search terms. In the example of The Chrysler Museum and Chrysler automobiles, if the word "automobile" is excluded, no results will show up in the search results that include the word automobile. This could lead to the exclusion of relevant articles, such as one that includes a photograph with a caption that says "automobile parked in front of the Chrysler Museum".
  • This is the equivalent of entering the Boolean operator NOT before the search term.

Note that the Advanced Search tool does not respond to the "Articles" / "Case law" button selection that you choose under the search box on the homepage. This means that by default, advanced searches will return scholarly article results. However, after running a search in either "Articles" or "Case law" mode, Google Scholar's advanced search tool will change to the mode most recently used.

What this means is that if you use the advanced search tool from the home page, you will get scholarly article results even if you had selected the "Case law" toggle on the homepage before opening the advanced search tool. However, if you run a search from the homepage with the "Case law" toggle selected and then open the advanced search tool from your results page (or if you return to the homepage), your advanced search results will now show up as case law searches. To get the advanced search to switch back to article search, run a search in article mode or switch modes in the results page as shown in the box below.

In addition to searching for academic literature, Google Scholar can be used to search for case law across US state and federal courts.

From the homepage, use the toggle button below the search bar to select "Case law" and start a fresh. If desired, select one of the suggested jurisdictions or click "Select courts" to open a full menu of available jurisdictions to limit your search to specific courts.

Homepage:

Google Scholar case law search homepage.

"Select courts" menu:

Google Scholar select courts page.


Note that the Advanced Search tool does not respond to the "Articles" / "Case law" button selection that you choose under the search box on the homepage. This means that by default, advanced searches will return scholarly article results. However, after running a search in either "Articles" or "Case law" mode, Google Scholar's advanced search tool will change to the mode most recently used.

What this means is that if you use the advanced search tool from the home page, you will get scholarly article results even if you had selected the "Case law" toggle on the homepage before opening the advanced search tool. However, if you run a search from the homepage with the "Case law" toggle selected and then open the advanced search tool from your results page (or if you return to the homepage), your advanced search results will now show up as case law searches. To get the advanced search to switch back to article search, run a search in article mode or switch modes in the results page as shown in the box below.

Google Scholar offers a basic help page that provides information on setting up accounts, searching, and information about how results are presented. You can access the help page by clicking help in the bottom right-hand corner of any Google Scholar page or click here: Google Scholar - Search Help

If you have additional questions, please contact us and a librarian will be happy to assist you:

Phone: 757 823-2418
Email: library@nsu.edu
SMS: 757 230-2015
Chat: New Chat

Using Google Scholar Results

Both the Basic and Advanced search in Google Scholar will return the same type of results list or scholarly literature including articles, books, etc.

By default, the results list will be sorted by relevance (how accurately the item matches your search terms), will include articles published any time, will return all resource types, and will include citations (these are results that are referred to in other scholarly documents, but no links were found by Google's indexing robots to match the record).

Google Scholar results list for the term "cats".

In addition to providing a link to each document in the results list, Google Scholar provides several additional helpful tools below the individual listing: "Save", "Cite", "Cited by", "Related Articles", and "All _ versions".

Individual Google Scholar results list entry showing the "Save", "Cite", "Cited by", "Related Articles", and "All _ versions" links at the bottom of the listing.

Save:

  • Select "Save" to save the article to "My Library" in Google Scholar. This allows you to store documents for later reading, downloading, or review.
  • Note that you will need to sign in or create and account to use this feature.

Cite:

  • Google Scholar will provide machine generated citations for your materials formatted in MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and Vancouver styles.
  • Note: This tool can be very helpful, but it also can make mistakes. You are responsible for providing properly formatted citations based on the requirements outlined by your professor. Always double check automatically generated citations yourself using the appropriate format guide and remember that the NSU Writing Center is available to help you review your citations for accuracy.

Cited by:

  • This is one of the most useful features in any database. Clicking the "cited by" link will open up a new results list showing you every piece of scholarly literature that Google has indexed that cited the article you were looking at.
  • Use this tool to find additional resources that are related to the article from your search results.
    • This allows you to see how other authors citing this article have relied upon or interpreted the article from your results list. this can help you see new connections or identify strengths or weaknesses in your own arguments.
  • By looking at the "Cited by" list, you can locate a more recent interpretation of your original article's topic or argument. This is very helpful if you are required to use articles within a specific timeframe (such as the last 5 years), but the article that you found initially is too old and you need a newer resource. 

Related Articles:

  • "Related articles" will perform another search to locate articles similar to the results entry from your list.
  • Although this is a helpful tool, how the results are generated is not transparent, so you may not be able to replicate the search well on other platforms.

All _ versions:

  • The versions tools allow you to view the document across all of the websites/databases where it was located by Google's indexing robots.
  • This can be a helpful tool if some versions of the materials are behind paywalls, because an alternate version may be available with full text on a different platform.
    • This is particularly common with research conducted with public finding where a peer-revied pre-publication version of the paper is made publicly available through a resource such as PubMed while the published version that appears in a journal after formatting would be behind a paywall. Learn more about public access here: Google Scholar Profiles - Public Access

In addition to the tools above you may see double arrows below a results list entry ">>". After clicking the double arrows, an option labelled "Find it! @ NSU" or "Library Search" may appear. These tools are in the process of being updated and may not work fully. Instead of using these links, please copy and paste the item title or other bibliographic information into the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library search fields on the library website: Lyman Beecher Brooks Library at Norfolk State University (nsu.edu)

Both the Basic and Advanced search in Google Scholar will return the same type of results list or scholarly literature including articles, books, etc.

By default, the results list will be sorted by relevance (how accurately the item matches your search terms), will include articles published any time, will return all resource types, and will include citations (these are results that are referred to in other scholarly documents, but no links were found by Google's indexing robots to match the record).

Google Scholar case law results list for the term "cats."

Full text results are available for any results with a linked title. On the full text page, you can toggle between "Read" and "How cited" modes to view the full text or a synopsis of how citing cases have treated the document. Learn more about the "How cited" feature below.

If there is no full text available in Google Scholar, the case will start with [CITATION] to indicate that only the citation was indexed. If you would like to locate the full text of a case that is only listed as a citation in Google Scholar, contact the library for assistance with requesting the item through interlibrary loan or at a law library.


In addition to providing a link to each document in the results list, Google Scholar provides several additional helpful tools below the individual listing: "Save", "Cite", "Cited by", "How cited", and "All _ versions".

Individual Google Scholar results list entry showing the "Save", "Cite", "Cited by", "How cited", and "All _ versions" links at the bottom of the listing.

Save:

  • Select "Save" to save the article to "My Library" in Google Scholar. This allows you to store documents for later reading, downloading, or review.
  • Note that you will need to sign in or create and account to use this feature.

Cite:

  • Google Scholar will provide machine generated Bluebook citations for case law.
  • Note: This tool can be very helpful, but it also can make mistakes. You are responsible for providing properly formatted citations based on the requirements outlined by your professor. Always double check automatically generated citations yourself using the appropriate format guide and remember that the NSU Writing Center is available to help you review your citations for accuracy.

Cited by:

  • This is one of the most useful features in any database and it is essential for gaining an understanding of how a case has been treated by the courts after the original opinion. Clicking the "Cited by" link will open up a new results list that displays additional cases that cite the original case ranked in order of how thoroughly the source case is discussed:
    • Google Scholar case law cited by coverage indicator one bar: "Discusses cited case at length." Three bars: Discusses cited case at length.
    • Google Scholar case law cited by coverage indicator one bar: "Discusses cited case." Two bars: Discusses cited case.
    • Google Scholar case law cited by coverage indicator one bar: "Discusses cited case briefly." One bar: Discusses cited case briefly.
       

How cited:

  • "How cited" will locate additional case law that cites the opinion you have selected.
  • This tool offers two helpful components:
    • On the left side of the page, Google Scholar provides brief excerpts of citing documents along with a link to the case law where the selected passage exists and indicates the number of other similar citations (no link if provided to the other similar citations)
       
    • On the right side of the page, Google Scholar lists cases that cite your current item (this is the same list provided when using the "Cited by" feature). These results are ranked using a three-bar scale next to the name of the case. Use the blue bars as a quick indication of how thoroughly your case is discussed in the "Cited by" results:
      • Google Scholar case law cited by coverage indicator one bar: "Discusses cited case at length." Three bars: Discusses cited case at length.
      • Google Scholar case law cited by coverage indicator one bar: "Discusses cited case." Two bars: Discusses cited case.
      • Google Scholar case law cited by coverage indicator one bar: "Discusses cited case briefly." One bar: Discusses cited case briefly.
  • Note that you can toggle between this page and "Read" in the upper left-hand corner of the page to mover back and forth between the full text and the citing information.

All _ versions:

  • This allows you to view all versions of the case located by Google's indexing robots.
  • This can be a very helpful tool for cases particularly when it may exist in a state or federal reporter and, depending on the citation, there may be supplementary information, summaries, or more complete records of further actions in the courts.
    • For example, the results shown below refer to the same case, but only the top result shows all three citations (562 US 411, 131 S. Ct. 1186, 179 L. Ed. 2d 144), the substantial "Cited by 1850" linking, and its full text includes a helpful "Syllabus" prepared by the Reporter of Decisions that summarizes the case. By comparison, the second result only shows the 131 S. Ct. 1186 and lacks all of the supplementary content.

Google Scholar case law search result showing two available versions of "Staub v. Proctor Hosp."

In both article search and case law search, the results list can be filtered using the menu on the left side of the page.

Articles:

  • Timeframe: Use the default "Any time", one of the suggested "since" prompts, or set a custom range.
  • Sort: Set the results list to be displayed in order of relevance to your search terms or from newest to oldest.
  • Type: Allow results of any type or limit results specifically to review articles (articles that summarize and discuss existing research on a topic but are not based upon the author's own original experimental research). The term "review article" is considered synonymous with "literature review".
  • Inclusions: Check or uncheck boxes to include/exclude patents and citation only results (records without full text available in Google Scholar, but are cited in other documents)

 

Case law:

  • Courts: Choose Federal courts, the suggested state court, or open the full "Select courts" list to adjust the jurisdiction of your results list.
  • Timeframe: Use the default "Any time", one of the suggested "since" prompts, or set a custom range.
  • Sort: Set the results list to be displayed in order of relevance to your search terms or from newest to oldest.
  • Inclusions: Check the box to include or exclude citation only results (records without full text available in Google Scholar, but are cited in other documents).

Do you need to review materials from case law and scholarly literature, but don't want to re write your search over and over?

Google Scholar makes is easy to switch between article and case law results pages for your terms by using the menu in the top left corner of the page and selecting "Articles" or "Case law"!

 

Changing results lists from articles to case law using the menu in the upper left-hand corner of the results page and selecting "articles" or "case law."

Google Scholar offers a basic help page that provides information on setting up accounts, searching, and information about how results are presented. You can access the help page by clicking help in the bottom right-hand corner of any Google Scholar page or click here: Google Scholar - Search Help

If you have additional questions, please contact us and a librarian will be happy to assist you:

Phone: 757 823-2418
Email: library@nsu.edu
SMS: 757 230-2015
Chat: New Chat