Using Google Scholar

Created by Royson Lin, Kian Ravaei, Xinyi(Alex) Yan

Using Google Scholar to find sources for your research can yield you a lot of articles, journals, books, and more. But how do you find the right sources? Here are some tips and tricks for maximizing Google Scholar’s potential. Stay tuned for more coming soon!

We can use quotes ("") to search for exact phrases in google scholar.

A screenshot showing that some search results contain 'organic' and 'solar cell' separately .

Without quotes, the search can return results containing the key words separately. Note that Google Scholar search will also return the plural form and the derivatives of any key word automatically.

A screenshot showing that the search results contain only the exact phrase 'organic solar cell' .

With quotes around any specific phrase, the search will only return results containing this exact phrase. Notice that by refining the search phrase, the number of search results decreases.

word and crossed out in red
Google Scholar doesn’t support AND, which lets you combine multiple words/phrases in a single search. It puts AND between search terms automatically. If you do use AND, it is actually included as a keyword in the search, which may not be what you want.
word or with green check mark
OR lets you add synonyms to your search. Putting OR or the pipe operator ("|") in between two words searches for articles that contains one word but not the other (as well as articles that have both). Remember to use quotation marks if you’re OR-ing phrases!
"comic books" OR "graphic novels"
hyphen with green check mark
Are you seeing results that talk about a different, unrelated topic to what you’re interested in? Consider the “-” (hyphen or minus sign) operator. Putting it before a word or phrase will make sure the results don’t include it.
pollution -plastic -“marine ecosystem”
word not crossed out in red
The “NOT” operator is sometimes used as an alternative to “-”, but it isn’t actually supported in Google Scholar. (Plus, the “-” is easier to type.)
parentheses crossed out in red
Using parentheses to group terms together (like in math) is not supported in Google Search.

References: 6 common misconceptions when doing advanced Google Searching, Should You Trust All Google Tip Sheets?, How to use Google Scholar, Google Advanced Search Operators

These buttons provide an easy way to find more articles that are relevant to your topic!

A screenshot showing that the cited by and related articles buttons are located under the description of the article.
The Cited By button shows you a list of all the articles that cited this paper.
The Related Articles button finds sources that are closely related to the paper.

Found a good article? How do you go about obtaining the full text without having to pay?

If you are a UC student, you can read certain articles for free via a special link: the UC-eLinks button! It should appear if you're connected to a UC Wi-Fi network or a campus VPN.

A screenshot showing the location of the UC-eLinks button, directly to the right of an applicable search result.

If you don’t see the UC-eLinks button, try:

  1. Clicking the link directly to the right of the search result.
  2. Clicking “All x versions.”
  3. Clicking the arrow icon to show more options.

A screenshot showing the three alternative places in a search result to find the full version.

If you still can’t locate a full version, try the free Open Access Button or Unpaywall browser extensions. Good luck!

Related Resources

About this tutorial

Awards and Recognition


Royson Lin, Kian Ravaei, Xinyi(Alex) Yan


Giselle Burns, Taylor Harper, Renee Romero, Doug Worsham

Learning Outcomes

  • Adopt new strategies for improving a Google Scholar search
  • Use Google Scholar's Advanced Search
  • Use quotes in their search
  • Use AND, OR, NOT, and Parentheses in their search.
  • Use Cited By and Related Articles to find relevant articles
  • Access relevant articles