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Google Scholar: How do you use Google Scholar?

How to Use Google Scholar

UTS Library. (2021, January 28). Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70_m6JQR7pw

This video, published by the University of Technology Sydney, gives a brief overview of how to use Google Scholar including what Google Scholar is, how to link your academic library, and basic search functions.

Searching for Case Law

Case law, as defined by Nolo's Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions, is "the law based on judicial opinions (including decisions that interpret statutes), as opposed to law based on statutes, regulations, or other sources."

 

To search for case law on Google Scholar, just choose the "case law" option underneath the search bar on the homepage. Once you have selected "case law" you can choose to search a specific court system such as Federal, Massachusetts, etc. (Note: If you select a specific court system, the case law selection will no longer be selected. Don't worry, it will still search just through case law.)

Homepage of Google Scholar with the case law option circled in red and the location of court system options

Basic Search Tips

As shown in the video to the left, Google Scholar is relatively easy to use. Here are a few tips on making the best of your search inquiries. 

  1. Login to you Google account.
    Make sure you are logged into your personal Google account. This will allow you to save articles to your library, which is covered in the "Next Steps" page.
  2. Searching.
    Google Scholar, as a default, uses keyword searching. This means that the search looks for the words anywhere in the text or record.
  3. The Sweet Spot.
    Be careful to not have too broad or too narrow of a search query. Too broad and you have a lot of material to sift through. Too narrow and you might miss materials that can be helpful.
    For example, if you are looking for information on women in ancient Greece, searching "ancient greece" gives you 2,200,000 results. Searching for "women in ancient athens" gives you 338,000 hits. Our sweet spot would be "women in ancient greece" which returns 730,000 results.
  4. Accessing Articles.
    There are two ways to access articles on Google Scholar.
    1. If a resource is available through Google Scholar, a pdf link will appear to the right of the resource. However, sometimes these pdfs are locked behind paywalls and you might not be able to access it.
    2. After linking to Jenks' resources (covered in "Next Steps"), any resources that are available through library databases will have a "Check Jenks Full Text" or "Full Text @ Jenks" link to the right of the resource. 

Accessing Articles from the Web

This video explains what to do when you find an article that is behind a paywall and also addresses how to request articles through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).