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BIOL 213L: Botany: Using Google Scholar

Spring 2023

Think before using Google Scholar

Google can be a great beginning research tool. Google Scholar can seem even better because it is "scholarly".  But there are some disadvantages.  When using Google Scholar, remember it is just one of many tools available to you.  It shouldn't be your one and only research stop.

Some things to consider:

  • Despite their claims, not all scholarly journals are indexed in Google. Only ones that the Google bots are able to "crawl" - freely available journals, information the publishers allow Google to get, and papers posted on the web by researchers.  Search results can also include powerpoints, news annoucements or unpublished materials as well as articles and books. 
  • Google Scholar covers a wide range of disciplines, but is strongest in the technical sciences and weakest in the humanities. Google Scholar does not cover material written pre-1990 as well as subscription databases do.
  • Google Scholar often links to commercial publisher websites which ask you to pay for access. DO NOT PAY FOR ARTICLES! Look for the CNU Journal Finder link. If it turns out that we do not have the article available, you can still get it from our ILL@CNU Interlibrary Loan system in just a few days for free (to CNU Faculty, Staff and Students).

Trible Library offers hundreds of article databases on a wide array of subjects.  The majority of articles in these databases will not be found on Google Scholar.  In our databases,  you will easily find full text or links to it, as well as many advanced searching features.

Google Scholar Search

Setting Up Google Scholar for CNU

If you are using Google Scholar on campus, it will recognize that and automatically displays the CNU Journal Finder links in the results page for journal titles it recognizes.

If you are working off campus, set up your Google Scholar preferences page by typing in Christopher Newport University in the Library Links box and click on the “Find Library” button. Select the four options that are given and Save.

Advanced Google Searching

Tips for getting more out of a Google search.

Site Search: Search for results only from a particular domain such as .gov, .edu, or from a specific website, e.g., on the Advanced Search form, enter or use site: as in

Type of File Search: Find particular file types such as PowerPoint (.ppt), Word (.doc), Excel (.xls) or PDF (.pdf) & more. Look for file type drop box on the Advanced Search form or use filetype:pdf

Refine your search: Use the tool bar above results to limit the type of information you want.  The MORE and Search Tools have even more possibilites.

Synonyms: Use the tilde (~) in front of a word to pick up words that Google considers synonyms of your word, e.g., ~ food facts includes results for "nutrition facts".

Define: Get definitions for words by putting define: in front of a word, e.g., define:subsume.

Not “that” word: Use the minus sign (-) in front of a word to eliminate that word from the search. e.g., bass -fish to eliminate many fish-related results

Either “this” word OR “this” word: Google assumes AND, but if you want to include synonymous terms use OR, e.g., effective OR efficacious. Also use the Advanced Search form.

Use "Advanced Search" at the bottom of the results page or under the "Gear" symbol in the top right corner.

Subject Guide

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