Answered By: Ming Guang Han
Last Updated: Jun 11, 2015     Views: 1920

Google scholar searches scholarly materials (journals, conference papers, books, theses, etc) from a variety of sources, including an unknown number of scholarly publishers (e.g. Wiley, IEEE), University Presses (e.g. HighWire Press, MetaPress, Ingenta) , preprint and universities repositories (e.g. arXiv.org, RePEc and our very own Scholarbank@NUSL)

In short, Google Scholar:

  • attempts to provide a single search engine for scholarly literature
    Note: Not all results come from scholarly sources, and not all scholarly material is findable in Google Scholar
  • Google scholar may also uncover grey literature  including government reports not often in traditional databases
  • is good for quick research, but lacks advanced search features to do controlled, precise, exhaustive searches
  • may offer a number of versions of the same article (e.g publisher version, aggregator version, preprints)
  • search results may include links to full-text articles freely available on the Internet.
  • may not have good coverage of older material
  • but tends to favour articles that are highly cited which tends to be older
  • many links take you to publishers' websites where access requires a subscriber login or you have to pay to view full-text. (Try our proxy bookmarklet to access full-text or the new library links programme method)

The effective coverage of different disciplines by Google Scholar varies, our experience is it tends to be be weak in Business, decent or even good in Sciences & Computer Science etc.

The other issue is that Google Scholar does not differentiate between what you have access via NUS Subscriptions and/or free and other material so it can be fustrating to use sometimes.

While we have created ways to deal with this to some extent, a very good alternative is our FindMore@NUSL , which similar to Google Scholar, pulls in results from various publishers and open access sources. In addition, FindMore@NUSL shows results from our library catalogue (covering print & online) and our instituional repository ScholarBank@NUS & gives you a controlled search over material we own or have access to only.

FindMore@NUSL has a clean, simple interface very similar to Google Scholar but with better facets for control, so you can filter by subject terms, journal titles and more.

We recommend to use Google Scholar and/or FindMore@NUSL together with one or more discipline specific databases for comprehensive searching.  

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