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Google vs Google Scholar: which one do I use?

The difference between Google and Google Scholar

The difference between Google and Google Scholar is that Google Scholar focuses on the scholarly literature available on the Internet.  This includes, articles, theses, books, abstracts, U.S. court opinions, and patents, found on the websites of academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and more. 

By scholarly literature, Google means publications that are based on the results of research or studies.

Google, on the other hand, has a broader scope, and retrieves resources regardless of where online they come from.  Resources in a Google search do not have to be scholarly, and do not have to be based on research.

Because much of what ends up in Google Scholar is vetted by software, not a real person, you want to be careful and double-check that what you find is in fact scholarly.  The software sometimes gets it wrong. 

The important thing to know about Google Scholar is that you should access it through the RRU Library homepage. This will route you through the RRU uasername and password server. If we have the article you are looking for, you will see a link to 'Find @ RRU' link to the right of the citation.

Try it!

Try searching for "botox" in Google, then try the same search in Google Scholar.

  • What differences do you see in the list of results? 
  • If you were doing research on the use of botox in the medical field, which version of Google would you use, and why?

Which version of Google should I use when?

Knowing which version of Google to use depends on what it is you are trying to research.  Google can be a good place to start, to find background or anecdotal information on your topic and to learn what vocabulary people use when discussing it.

As your progress into your topic you may need studies or other scholarly material to back up your stance, so you may want to switch over to Google Scholar to focus on the more scholarly literature.