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Google (Search) and Google Scholar

Using Google (Search) and Google Scholar Effectively


google vs google scholar graphic


Google (Search) or Google Scholar? Which one should you use? Librarians would prefer you used our library databases instead but we know that students love Google Search and may have even dabbled a bit with Google Scholar. This brief guide was created to jump-start more effective search techniques and help filter out some of the less relevant results from Google products. In the end, practicing these techniques may even help you be more effective using library databases(!).

For more details than provided in this guide, see also Google's own help screens: Google Search help and Google Scholar help.

What's the Difference?

  Google (Search) Google Scholar
WHAT IS SEARCHED Searches hundreds of billions of web sites (but not the entire web-- really, it's too big).  Searches scholarly (academic) literature including articles, dissertations, documents, reports, theses, court opinions, and abstracts.
HOW IT’S SEARCHED “The Google Search index …is like the index in the back of a book — with an entry for every word seen on every webpage we index. When we index a webpage, we add it to the entries for all of the words it contains.” ( “Google Scholar aims to rank documents the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature.” (
WHERE RESULTS COME FROM Results are pulled from all areas of the Web indexed by Google. Results are pulled from academic publishers, professional societies, universities, and other online repositories.
ACCESS TO FULL TEXT Full-text results of publications may include free Web access or fee-based Web access. Full-text results may include free Web access, fee-based Web access, or links to SDCC databases for free access to SDCC users.

Video: Google vs Google Scholar

Youtube video from Fullerton College Library (2:00)

Guide Author, License, & Attribution

Guide Author: Sandra V. Pesce, PhD ~ Librarian/Professor Electronic Resources ~ ~ 619-388-3245

  All original content in this libguide, Using Google and Google Scholar Effectively,  is licensed by Sandra Pesce under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 3rd-party content including, but not limited to images and linked items, are subject to their own license terms.   Portions of this guide content have been adapted and reused from two Miramar College Library libguides, How to Use Google Effectively and How to Use Google Scholarwith the permission of Angela Boyd

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