Whether you’re in high-school or university a key part of our studying is RESEARCH. We need it for essays, lab reports and when a teacher doesn’t actually cover all the content in class and we gotta go figure it out ourselves!
The easiest way to research is just by googling your question right into the search engine. It CAN work but is it the best way? Finding a professional study compared to a news article is more impressive AND accurate and will give you way more information.
That’s where Google Scholar comes in! It can be very intimidating — big words, lots of volume numbers, and paragraphs on paragraphs. Here are some tips to use Google Scholar efficiently and effectively!
1. Effective Searching
The first part of using Google Scholar is knowing what to search for.
Make a plan for your assignment and decide the specific information you want to research just like an example below:
Once you know what you’re actually going to research, type that in Google Scholar! BUT be specific — don’t just type in “evolution”, you’re going to get an unreasonable amount of articles about a range of topics. Know what you specifically are looking into like “natural selection” or “coevolution” and search THAT.
This should bring up articles that are exactly what you’re looking for! Sometimes, they may still be difficult to read. It doesn’t hurt to look at simpler articles OUTSIDE of Google Scholar to get a gist of the research. Then go back to a more scholarly article, and you may be more familiar with the vocabulary.
2. Learn How to Skim
We know that the studies and reports on Google Scholar are unbearably long. It’s not surprising to find a report that has over ten parts — and no one feels like reading ALL of that. Especially when you’ve got to find multiple sources — we can’t do that for everything!
Firstly, read the abstract. Or at least skim it. It just tells you a vague idea of what the report is about and whether you’re wasting your time reading. Sometimes — the abstract is all we even need for an assignment!
If you need more though, chances are maybe only one or two parts of the report will be relevant to you. That doesn’t mean you have to not read it at all though! Read the titles of the different sections and see what might be important. And do a quick skim! Read it over quickly and see if it’s what you need – if it is, great! Read it more thoroughly. If not? Move on!
And we are sure you know this — but just in case you don’t — a tip that saves everyone’s life is Command/Ctrl F. Just type in a key word you’re looking for and BAM… it will bring you right to the info you’re looking for!
3. Lastly, Citation Hacks
One of the most frustrating parts of using reports from Google Scholar is citing them. I find it way easier citing an article — the title, date and publisher are always right there! Regardless of which citation method you are using reports always need waaaaay more. All authors, volume numbers, DOI number (who even knows what that is??). Instead of searching for all these little bits most reports have a little “cite this article” section and it takes you to where all the information is! Way more organized.
Something a little less obvious can also be found down in the citation section. It’s an ‘OTHER’ citations. Many studies and research papers reference OTHER studies and research paper! If you’re looking for more information for your assignment, please look at these references as it is the perfect place to start because you KNOW it will be relevant to the topic.
We hope this helps some of you who are less familiar with Google Scholar. It really is a great place to get in-depth research so really give it a go. Happy researching!
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