Google/Google Scholar vs. Library Databases

Library databases are NOT free sources. The information in the databases is well-organized, carefully selected, and in many cases, peer-reviewed. Library databases give you more control over your searching, allowing you to broaden or focus your search as necessary. Google instead searches the surface of the open web, making it difficult to find quality information. 

Google Scholar promotes itself as a resource that provides one-stop shopping for scholarly literature. It searches across many disciplines and covers a wide variety of resources, including journal articles, theses, books, abstracts, and more. Although Google Scholar is aimed at the academic community, it uses a very broad definition of "scholarly literature." Remember that the content isn't free or necessarily available in full-text. If you find an article you like, you may have to pay for it. You can customize Google Scholar to display the  button so you can access some articles for free.

Google Search Tips

Limit your results to a specific site, or type of site by using site:

  • The search agriculture will find results ending in .gov, which are government websites.    
  • The search agriculture will find results that are within the CSU websites.

Use quotation marks " " around phrases or titles.

  • "soil conservation" will find results talking about soil conservation, not about conservation that just mentions soil.

Mark important words with a +

  • If you want to make sure a word or phrase shows up in your results, but a + in front: +"soil conservation"

Eliminate resutls with a -

  • A minus sign (-) works the same as NOT: soil -conservation (Be careful when using!)

Limit your results by file type by using filetype:

  • filetype:pdf finds PDFs, while filetype:.ppt will find PowerPoints.

Broaden your search

  • Use OR the same way you would in a library database to get more results (soil OR dirt).
  • Using a tilde (~) before a word will find synonyms.

See the GoogleGuide for more tips.

Linking Google Scholar to CSU resources

It is important to realize that not everything in Google Scholar is peer reviewed.

Configuring Google Scholar to Display the FindIt@CSU Link

Google Scholar can be configured to display the FindIt@CSU link.  Although this link will automatically display for users accessing Google Scholar from on campus, off-campus users will need to configure Google Scholar to display the link.

To do this:

1. Go to Google Scholar -

2. Click on the settings gear gear icon that is located on the top right hand side of the screen, below the black bar.


3. Type "Colorado State" into the "Library Links" box. Click on "Find Library."  Select "Colorado State University (FindIt@CSU)".


4. Click on "Save".

5.  Now the FindIt@CSU link should appear in Google Scholar each time you run a search.


Try a search: 

Google Scholar Search

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