Google Scholar

Heading photo credit: Brett Whaley, Dead Tamarack Swamp, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license

My expectations of the route

According to Google Scholar, searching within this search engine is restricted to ‘scholarly’ research and literature. With the same search strategies as its behemoth of a parent, Google, I anticipate the journey through Google Scholar will start from a point that is already more efficient, more rewarding and less overwhelming than Google.

How the journey panned out

I am taking the same expert search strategy as I took in my Google search.

Based on the development of my Inquiry Question into two ‘sub’ questions:

  • How has the implementation of the Australian Curriculum impacted on the use of Inquiry Learning in schools?
  • What are the main concerns of teachers engaging with Inquiry Learning?

my key concepts have expanded to include: curriculum, Australia, teacher. This expansion of search terms will narrow my search for greater precision and accuracy.

Search string Search strategies Hits Evaluation of results
“Australian Curriculum” impact “inquiry learning” school teacher challenge Simple search string (n.b. the boolean operator AND is assumed in Google searches)

Quotation marks used to ensure the phrase is searched for and it is not broken into its parts

N.B. the order in which terms are listed in the search string will change the results in Google searches (see figure 1).

358 Much more manageable number of hits than the numbers I was getting in Google searches

The search has uncovered some interesting articles that will be useful for my research.

In future searches I would like to target more specifically sources that focus on the challenges cited by teachers as they implement inquiry learning in the classroom. To achieve this, I will refine the terms, and ensure that all are included in the search.

allintext:challenge “inquiry learning” Australian classroom difficult concerns implement Quotation marks

Use of the search operator allintext: to ensure all terms are made compulsory in the search

In this case, the order of terms in search string is not important, as all terms are included!

367 (with the date range “since 2012” selected – see figure 2) (when the search operator allintext: is not used, the number of hits is 1,880) The search has broadened from the previous sample, most likely due to the phrase “Australian Curriculum” not being included in this sample.

The focus of this search is much more on teachers concerns.

allintext:difficulties | challenges | concerns | issues “inquiry learning” class school -science -maths In addition to the search strategies used in the previous sample, this sample uses the minus sign (–) to exclude results with the nominated term in them (in this case, both science and maths). Google does not recognise the boolean operator NOT, as it considers ‘not’ a stop word) 133 The number of hits is low enough to be very digestible, with the search having narrowed from the previous sample. There are still enough hits that a wide variety of sources, relevant to my Inquiry Question can be explored, and the benefit of Google Scholar’s “related articles” tool taken advantage of to produce satisfying progress (see figure 3).

Created with the HTML Table Generator

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Figure 1 – The effect of changing term order in search strings in Google Scholar and Google


Figure 2.png
Figure 2 – A few of Google Scholar’s tools


Google Scholar Figure 4.png
Figure 3 – The results from the third search sample


Google Scholar – The lay of the land

The starting point when researching using Google Scholar is much further down the road towards success than Google, due to the restricted content. As Google Scholar contains “scholarly material” only, searches immediately come back with a smaller, more manageable, pool of results that are more “academic” in their content, and thus more appropriate to my research task.

Google Scholar’s “related articles” and “cited by…” lists are enormously advantageous when researching, as they cut a lot of the “leg work” out – when one finds an article that suits their purpose well, these lists provide ready-made shortcuts to similar material (see figure 2).

For those researching on a longer-term basis, Google Scholar’s “create alert” tool (see figure 2) would also come in very handy – enabling one to set up an automatic email service from Google Scholar to alert them when content that matches their search string is added to the search engine.

Curating a collection of articles and saving this collection is also made easy in Google Scholar by enabling “My Library” (see figure 4).

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Figure 4 – The location of the “My library” tool


Google has none of the handy features of Google Scholar, discussed above.

When searching in Google Scholar, however, there was the risk that one would often find that access to article was impossible without payment. If one is a member of a university library they are able to take advantage of that membership via Google Scholar by going into ‘Settings’ on the home page and then ‘Library links’ (see figure 5) and nominating their university. Then, when possible (where your university has an active subscription) Google Scholar will direct you to your university catalogue to provide access to articles which otherwise would attract a fee. However, if one does not have membership of a university library, they will often be me with disappointment.


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Figure 5 – The location of the Setting menu in Google Scholar


Google Scholar Figure 6.png
Figure 6 – The Library links setting within Google Scholar


As I progress deeper into my Inquiry Learning, my questions are narrowing further.

My Inquiry Questions, as I move onto expert searching in A+ Education look like this:

  • What are the arguments against Inquiry Learning?
  • How do scaffolds and models for Inquiry Learning address teachers concerns regarding implementation and outcomes?





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