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Literature Review Tips in Education

Limitations and Advantages of Google Scholar

Google Scholar can provide another source for locating scholarly articles for your literature review. To ensure a comprehensive literature search,  always use Google Scholar along with other databases specific to your discipline. 

Keep these pros and cons in mind when using Google Scholar: 

Google offers these features:

  • the ability to search using one simple search box
  • the ability to cast a wide search across several different subject areas
  • useful for locating "grey literature"  (for example conference proceedings; dissertations; items in university repositories )
  • an excellent tool for locating unique search topics
  • an excellent tool for locating an article by title or a part of a citation
  • a way to find related articles using the "Cited by" feature

Potential limitations of Google Scholar:

  • Covers many different subject areas and will not be as comprehensive as a subject specific database
  • Google does not specify criteria for inclusion of "scholarly" materials 
  • It is not easy to sort or filter results as easily as a database. Cannot narrow by peer-review, by discipline or by full-text content. 
  • Includes articles from questionable/predatory publishers
  • Advanced search is not as sophisticated as in databases.
  • It is not a fulltext database.  Use the link through your library website. If fulltext is not available, request the article the your library's interlibrary loan/RACER service.