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Google Scholar: Understanding Results

What is Google Scholar? Using Google Scholar, how can you locate scholarly articles, link to articles through Copley Library, and find out how many times articles were cited?

File Types

Your Google Scholar search results will contain a variety of file formats.

If you see a GET THIS ITEM AT USD, you will be taken to various library resources that support the result.  These resources are licensed by the library and can serve as your first choice of getting to full-text.  DO NOT PAY FOR ARTICLES without checking our library resources!!

If a PDF abstract or full-text version is available, you will see a PDF link to the right of the result with PDF along with an indication of the sponsorship of the resource.

If the result links directly to the resource in HTML format, you will see an HTML link to the right of the result with HTML along with an indication of the sponsorship.

If the result is a book title available through Google Books for purchase (or free, if in the public domain), you will see the word BOOK in brackets before the title of the result.

If the result is pulled from a citation on a website, you will see the word CITATION in brackets preceding the title of the result.  Sometimes the citation result is hyperlinked to take you to the source of the citation, and other times the citation is pulled from other documents in Google Scholar’s index and you will only be taken to results that cite your citation or more results using similar searching to your citation. If no abstract or full-text information is provided for your result, you may need to search for the citation in a library resource.  If you want to turn the CITATION feature off, you can uncheck the INCLUDE CITATIONS box on the left side of your results.

And remember, Ask a Librarian to help you with your results before you consider paying for the full-text!!!


Under each search result, you will see the number of versions associated with that result.

These versions may be a combination of preprints, conference articles, journal articles, or journal articles in multiple sources.

You can select to view these versions, some of which include free access to a preprint or free full-text in an Open Access platform, like  PubMed.

Google Scholar Citations vs. Cited References

Google Scholar Citations are not exactly the same as Google Scholar cited references.

Google Scholar Citations is a tool to discover which other authors are citing your articles.  Once you set up a Google Scholar Citations profile, you can use the tool to track and graph when and where your articles are cited (at least, the articles that are picked up in Google Scholar!).

The Google Scholar Cited References link under each result of a search will show you how many times the resource has been cited, according to Google Scholar's index.  This CITED BY link will take you to those resources that cited the result.  You can often use this tool to narrow research on your topic.

Related Articles

The Related Articles link under each search result includes resources that are similar in topic/theme to your results but do not necessarily cite each resource in the results list.  Use this resource to expand research on your topic.

Using My Library

If you find articles that you want to save to your Google Scholar account, you must be logged into the account.  Once you are logged in, look for the star underneath the result and click on it to make it a solid color:


Any article that you select by clicking on the star will be added to the My Library link.  Within My Library, you can edit the citation, discard the selection, export the citation to a citation manager, or organize your results with labels,

Email Alerts to Save Your Query

Within your search results, you can create an email alert in Google Scholar by clicking on theAlert link in the lefthand toolbar.  This link will take you to a page to create an alert through the Create Alert button and will automatically supply your email address included.