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A research guide for students in Sociology.

Student in Alden Library working a circular computer pods.

To Google or not to Google? 

Yes, of course, Google. And even Wikipedia. We all use these tools, and to do good research we need to search everywhere. 

It isn't either / or, it's both /and. 



Google Scholar: the caveats: 

  • Google's definition of "scholarly" and my definition of "scholarly" may not be the same thing.  
  • Google will take you to a record of the article that does not include full text, and ask you to pay money to access the article..  


Search for Full text on the library webpage by cutting and pasting the article title. 

If it does not come up, use our Document delivery / Ill form and we will get it for you.   

Or, you can install the browser extension LibKey, which bridges the connection for you.   

  • And, of course, searching on the open web means you must keep your brain turned on; you must evaluate EVERY resource for quality.  
  • Misses much of the academic literature that is in the paid databases the library gives you access to. 
  • Your searches are tracked through your browser, across Google devices and services. 

Google Scholar: the benefits: 

  • Finds things in Institutional Repositories, a growing body of work hosted by universities to make their own scholars' work more available.
  • Excellent at surfacing words and synonyms you may not have thought of to use in further searching. 
  • Surveys the literature across many disciplines; bird's eye view of my topic from many angles. 
  • Easier to search: put anything in the box and you get something out. Vs databases' structured search that you have to learn how to use. 
  • Everyone is comfortable with Google searches. 
  • Better at public opinion, popular media, images, immediate news, grey literature.