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Advanced Writing in the Disciplines (AWD) : Google Scholar

A guide to online and print resources for Advanced Writing in the Disciplines

Google Scholar: Why or Why Not?

There may be times when Google Scholar is suitable, and times when you should choose a different database to search.

Before You Begin

Ask yourself:

  • When should you use Google Scholar, and when should you use a different search engine?
  • When would it be more productive to use a database that the Library subscribes to for students, faculty, and staff?

Review the major advantages and disadvantages of Google Scholar to help answer these questions, so that you can choose the most effective means to finding what you need for your scholarly research.

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar provides an easy way to search broadly for scholarly literature across a range of disciplines and topics. As with a general Google search, Google Scholar attempts to bring the more relevant results to the top of the results list.

Google Scholar Search


Google Scholar can be useful when searching:

  • "Grey literature" such as conference proceedings
  • Across multiple disciplines
  • For multiple types of documents (articles, proceedings, books)

Google Scholar can also help you quickly identify who is publishing in your area of research.



Drawbacks to Google Scholar include:

  • not knowing when it's updated
  • many older articles
  • can't browse by title
  • no way to limit search results

If you need advanced features or recent articles, try one of the databases the library subscribes to. Our subject guides can help you select an appropriate database.