Unlike search results on Google.com, Google Scholar search results isn’t a ranking of websites. Instead, Google Scholar search results are lists of scholarly articles related to your query. Google Scholar can also be used to locate United States patent filings as well as state and federal court cases.
When looking at Google Scholar search results you’ll find that some articles are available to view for free as PDFs and others only allow you to read an abstract before being prompted to purchase access to the full article. Students who use Google Scholar and come across articles that require subscriptions for full access should ask their school’s librarian if the school has access to those articles.
One of the most helpful research features of Google Scholar is found after you’ve located a helpful article. In Google Scholar search results you’ll notice that below each article there is a link labeled “cited by” and one labeled “related articles.” Once you’ve identified a helpful article click on the “cited by” link to see a list of articles that have cited the one you’ve just read. You can also click on the “related articles” link to, as the name implies, find related articles indexed by Google Scholar.
Another handy feature of Google Scholar is found when you click on the quotation mark listed just to the left of the “cited by” link below each article. Clicking on the quotation mark brings up pre-formatted MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and Vancouver style citations for students to copy and paste into their research papers.
All of the features mentioned above and more are demonstrated in this short video.
Patent search in Google Scholar provides an interesting way for students to trace the development of technology. For example, using the patent search feature in Google Scholar can show students the development of telephones from Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone through mobile phones in use today. To do this students will first need to use Google Scholar to locate Bell’s patent filing (found here https://patents.google.com/patent/US244426A/en). Once they’ve found the patent filing they can then scroll down the page to find a list of other patent filings that cited Bell’s and a list of similar patent filings. Students can also click on Bell’s name to see a list of all of his patent filings. A video demonstration of this process is available here.