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COMM_ST_395-DL: Digital Media and Society (John)

What's in Google Scholar?

Google Scholar searches for scholarly literature across disciplines. It includes journal papers, conference papers, technical reports, or their drafts, dissertations, pre-prints, post-prints, and abstracts. Scholarly documents larger that 5mb are available in Google Books, but are indexed in Google Scholar. Visit the Google Inclusion info page below for details on how authors, university repositories, and journal publishers get their content indexed in Google Scholar.

Please note that not all of Northwestern Libraries' licensed content is available via Google Scholar. We recommend using library databases for more comprehensive and precise searches. 

Pros and Cons of Google Scholar


  • Vast collection of materials means you'll get a broad look at scholarship in certain areas.
  • View lots of different types of content in one place.
  • It's a familiar interface with library link buttons that will connect you to licensed library resources.
  • Easily track down citations.


  • The amount of content that is indexed can lead to imprecise search results.
  • No controlled subject vocabulary
  • You cannot narrow by discipline.
  • Minimal limiting options. (i.e. you cannot limit by peer-reviewed articles, format, location, or language)

Advanced Searching

To do advanced searching in Google, you can alter your search terms and syntax, and you can also utilize their Advanced Searching option. On the left side of the page, click on the three lines (known as a hamburger menu). Select Advanced Search.



That will open a new window on the main Google Scholar page that will allow you to search by author, title, date range, and more.