Google Scholar

Basic information

How to use this tool for use/reuse assessment

Alert Services

Google Scholar indexes the full-text or metadata of a variety of peer-reviewed online academic journals, books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature. It  can be used to monitor the citations  of digital objects by creating email alerts that are delivered to the practitioner to help them stay abreast of new research by a specific author or on a certain topic. Authors can also set up alerts to track new citations of their own works.

Citation Analysis

Google Scholar can be used to search for citations or other identifying markers of digital content, such as a title or URI, to quickly gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles It also uses traditional metrics to gauge impact including: h-indexh-coreh-mediah5-indexh5-core, and h5-median.

Ethical guidelines

Practitioners should follow the practices laid out in the “Ethical considerations and guidelines for the assessment of use and reuse of digital content.” The Guidelines are meant both to inform practitioners in their decision-making, and to model for users what they can expect from those who steward digital collections.

Additional guidelines for responsible practice

According to Google Scholar’s parent company (Google), it collects a wide range of user data based on direct user input, third-party sources, and through automated technologies such as cookies, apps, and devices. This data includes a) personally identifiable data about users such as name, email address, postal address, phone number and carrier, social media handle, usernames and passwords, demographic data and payment data, b) device and usage data, including browse/search history, purchase history, IP address, and device configuration, and c) content, including all communications (audio, video, text), video or recordings, feedback and ratings, and activity on third-party sites and apps that use Google services. 1


  • Google Scholar indexes a broad array of scholarly publications including presentations, posters, grey literature and other scholarly material published in institutional repositories.

  • The coverage includes all subject areas and scholarly disciplines, while providing a broad, world-wide geographic representation.

  • The index of Google Books provides a one-stop search that includes both serials and monographs.

  • The Google Scholar broad index is extensive in content compared to alternative tools.

  • The search covers the entire digital object, including the main body of the text, endnotes, footnotes, captions,  works cited, and references. 

  • Google Scholar can reveal digital object use that may be hidden by traditional citation analysis. 

  • The  “Create Alert” feature will send a notification anytime the search criteria appears in a newly indexed item. Google Scholar alerts can be set using the same boolean search criteria as Google search engine.

  • The importing feature can be used with citation managers such as RefWorks, EndNote and BibTex to collect individual citations.


  • Google Scholar does not offer a dashboard for reporting metrics, visualizing impact, or analyzing data, making the tool difficult–but not impossible–to use for comprehensive citation analysis of digital objects. It is better suited for qualitative citation analysis and manual data collection.

  • Google Scholar primarily demonstrates use or reuse within scholarship and formally published material, thereby excluding  much of the broader content reuse ecosystem.

  • It relies on accurate and well formatted citations and webpage meta tags which are common for scholarly works and datasets but may not exist for cultural heritage digital objects.

  • While the platform is extensive, the coverage of the humanities and social science literature index has been questioned compared to the comprehensive coverage of English-language, scientific scholarship.

  • Google Scholar does not maintain an API that can be used to automate data retrieval. It does not provide an easy export feature to automatically export results into a spreadsheet, text, or CSV file, though workarounds within the interface in addition to third-party tools like Zotero, Publish or Perish, and web scraping tools can provide options for extracting the results list.

  • Web scrapers can only be used in a limited capacity due to the implementation of rate limiters and CAPTCHAs.

  • Google Scholar does not display or export DOIs, a standard implemented by all major academic publishers to identify individual scholarly works.

Real world examples

1 Privacy policy – privacy & terms – Google. (2021). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from
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