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Google Scholar: An Essential Research Tool: How Google Scholar Searches

How Google Scholar Searches

Google Scholar does not search in exactly the same way as the “academic” databases described under the preceding tab.


The Library catalogue and academic databases use something called a truncation symbol to retrieve various endings on a word “stem”.  The Library catalogue uses a ? question mark. Most academic databases use a star or asterisk   *.   Thus, as indicated earlier –

            japan*    would find records containing the words   japan/japan’s/japanese.

            german*   would find   german/german’s/germans/germany/ Germanic.


Automatic stemming:  

Google Scholar doesn’t recognize truncation symbols. Instead, it uses automatic stemming, and looks for the word you type in, plus any additional letters on the end of that word. To work properly, what you type in must be a complete word, not a truncated one such as societ. As an example,

            military would find the words military/military’s , but not militarism/militaristic.

            Psychology would not also retrieve psychological/psychologically/psychologist.

Because you can’t use truncation symbols, you may need to type in those additional variations of your search terms.

Scholar now does appear to search automatically for synonyms related to the words in your search strategy.

But the results are often erratic.

Exact Word Searching

By default Google looks for the synonyms of your search word.  So if you want to search for library Google will also search for librarian.  The best strategy for shutting off this feature is to put words in quotation marks " ".  So back to our prior example: searching for library will also bring back librarian, while searching for "library" will only return results for library.

Automatic Insertion of the Boolean Command Word  AND : 

Scholar automatically inserts the word  AND  between every word/phrase/set of brackets unless you deliberately type in the word OR instead.


Capitalization of the Boolean command word  OR  :  

If you use the command word OR it must be in capital letters so that Scholar will understand it is a command, not just another word to search for.


   How should you connect to Google Scholar?    




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Robert Thomas
LY611, Dr. John Archer Library,
University of Regina.
3737 Wascana Parkway
Regina, SK S4S 0A2