As has hopefully been emphasized already, searching for scholarly materials is not as simple as doing a Google search. This is true even if you are searching Google Scholar. This page will introduce you to specific skills you can use to get the most out of a database search, saving you time and a stress headache.
Complete the interactive database tutorial below!
In Step 1, you established how many and what kinds of sources you need to complete your assignment. But where should you search for them? There is no single place where you can find everything you need. Different types of sources are found in different databases, so plan to do at least 2-3 separate searches to cover your bases.
Keep in mind that during the current COVID-19 crisis, you'll need to rely exclusively on online resources.
Foley Library subscribes to more than 350 databases! They come in many forms, and have all sorts of content in them, but in general they can all be searched using the same basic skills. Follow the "general to specific" rule here:
Subject headings are used to some degree in all databases to describe and categorize sources. Each source that is included in a database has been tagged by humans with controlled subject terms that describe the basic topic(s) of the source. This means that experts got together and chose specific terms to describe concepts (for example, sources referring to soda, pop, cola, etc are all found under the heading CARBONATED beverage in Academic Search Complete).
The quickest way to find subject headings is to do a keyword search and check the subject headings on any article that seems relevant. Clicking on the subject term will take you to the full list of sources tagged with that subject heading.
Strategy 1: upgrade your keyword searching. Pick out 2-3 specific words or phrases. Get rid of any filler words. Databases do their search using only the information you give them; they can't guess synonyms, and they don't understand which words are important and which aren't.
Strategy 2: enhance your keyword searching using Boolean operators and other advanced tools. Boolean operators, originally from logic and math, are words we can use to "glue" our keywords together in different ways.
If you are searching for a specific article or journal (for instance, if you are following the research trail back by looking at an article's citations), it would take forever to search every single database. Thankfully, you can use Periodicals@Foley to see if the library has a specific journal, and if so, which database it is in. Here's how:
When an article you want isn't available from one of Foley Library's resources, or, say, when you find an article in a web search but the publisher wants you to pay $35 to download it, the library's Interlibrary Loan department comes to the rescue!
There are two ways to order an article using Interlibrary Loan. The first is to click on the link to Check Gonzaga Libraries for Full Text Options that accompanies a citation in a database:
If we don't have the article in any other database, you'll see a link to request the article via interlibrary loan:
Click there to get to the sign-in page for Interlibrary Loan. Once you sign in, the system pre-fills a form with all the information needed to order the article.
Select your Needed Before date and your Department (Organizational Leadership, Religion, etc.) and Status (Graduate, Undergrad, etc.), then Submit the request.
What happens next? Our interlibrary loan department identifies a library that owns the journal and sends the request to them. That library scans the article into a PDF and, once it's uploaded to your ILL account, you get an email that the article is available. An uploaded ILL document is only available for 30 days or five views, whichever comes first, so it's a good idea to download the PDF right away! Oh, and even though the name of the service is interlibrary loan, articles are yours to keep. Books, on the other hand, do need to be returned . . . but you knew that already.
The other way to order an article requires a bit more effort, but it works just as well. Log in to ILL, click Create Request, and select the type of item you are requesting: Article, Book/Media, or Book Chapter. Fill in the form with as much information as you can and submit the request.
We can get almost any article requested through ILL. It is seamless, fast (but not instant), and free to you, so don't let that perfect article get away!
Google Scholar searches for scholarly content across the internet. It's easy to use, but you won't want to rely on it as your only source.
Log into your Gmail account when searching Google Scholar to use your settings.
PROS - Things Google Scholar is good for:
1. Google Scholar shows you how many times an article has been cited, and by whom. Just click "Cited by . . ." under the article abstract to see a list of every citation Google is able to retrieve.
Why is this useful? Well, you already know that looking at the list of references from a good article will help you find other useful articles on your topic. That's looking backward in time to articles and research that preceded the one you are reading. Looking at "Cited by..." in Google Scholar, allows you to look forward in time, to articles and research that followed the article and hopefully built upon it.
2. Google Scholar is great for getting a quick-n-dirty overview of a topic. We're all used to Google's keyword-heavy searching. Searching Google-style in Google Scholar is a great way to find relevant articles quickly, which can help you get a feel for the journals, terminology, and issues surrounding your subject of research. You can then use that knowledge to search more deeply in the library's subject-specific databases.
3. Google Scholar can find "gray literature," like conference proceedings or unpublished works, that are often not indexed in scholarly databases.
4. Google Scholar is good at helping you fill in missing information if all you have is a partial citation. Often Google's search algorithm can find the full citation for you.
CONS - Things Google Scholar is poor at:
1. Google Scholar cannot retrieve anything that is not available or cited on the surface internet. The majority of scholarly work is not on the surface internet. Anything behind a paywall — like a scholarly database — is invisible to Google.
2. Google Scholar has no subject headings and few ways to refine a search. This makes it more difficult to zoom in on just the right results.
3. Google Scholar has no way to search by discipline. Searching is almost entirely keyword based, and your keywords may apply to many disciplines.
3. Not everything Google Scholar finds is actually scholarly. Google's magic algorithm takes into account indicators like whether the article has been cited elsewhere, but at the end of the day it's just a guess.
4. Google Scholar isn't picky about the quality of the full-text it finds, so you need to be. One of our librarians found a great article using Google Scholar, but the PDF provided was an early version of the article, complete with editors marks!
1. From the library home page, click "Advanced Search."
2. On the Advanced Search Page, (1) select "Local Catalog" in Search Scope drop-down box, and (2) "Books" in the Material Type drop-down box. Next, (3) type in your keyword and (4) click Search.
3. Once you've run your search, on the left-hand "Tweak my results" column under Availability, click on "Full Text Online" to see only eBooks the Library has immediate access to. You will be asked to log in with your GU credentials before you can get to full-text content.
Another way to locate eBooks and Audiobooks is to search in specific databases, such as these ones (GU login required):