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Google scholar, standing on the shoulders of giants: Introduction



Brief introduction / definition

Who hasn't used Google? The "Google" reflex when searching for information on the Internet is well established. Admittedly, this generalist search engine never disappoints in the first instance: thousands of responses are returned. But the relevance of these responses is a different matter.

To find only scientific and academic documents, there is a solution: Google Scholar! This tool allows you to limit your search to the scientific literature and to explore a part of the invisible web, which is inaccessible when using general search engines.


Google scholar: what is the content? What is the coverage?

History: Google Scholar was launched in 2004.  It proposes peer-reviewed journal articles, pre-publication articles, books, theses, reports. It is a free service.

Sources: the indexed documents come from scientific publishers, learned societies, pre-print directories, university servers. However, Google Scholar does not give a list of its sources. Therefore, its limits remain quite vague.

Coverage: the database is multidisciplinary, but the natural and medical sciences resources are better covered than the humanities and social sciences.

Diverse document types: books, theses, scientific review articles, abstracts, proceedings, technical reports.

Languages: mostly English

Subject Guide

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Clémence Belvèze
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To cite this guide

Martin, Clémence, Portet, Sandrine. "Google Scholar, sur les épaules des génats". In UBL (Université Bretagne Loire). Formadoct. Rennes : UBL, décembre 2013. avalaible at: