There are a number of different tools available for conducting literature research on the internet. They can be categorized as search engines, web directories, and research databases. The ideal research tool for your search will depend on just what it is you’re looking for.
Universal and specialized search engines allow users to search the full text of documents in the World Wide Web. Universal search engines attempt to make as much of the web as possible available and searchable, and are best used when you can name what you’re looking for precisely, e.g. the name of a company, and organization, a journal, etc. These search engines have primarily a reference function. The four most important search engines with their own pools of data are:
Specialized search engines
These search engines index only a specific part of the web. Because of the pre-defined selection of indexed websites they search, they are best suited for thematic research. Major scholarly search engines include:
- BASE Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
Search engine especially for academic open access web resources. It consolidates a number of different repositories and makes their contents searchable via one interface.
Search portal for economics of the German National Library of Economics
- Google Scholar
Google Scholar is Google’s search engine for academic publications.
Documents indexed in Google Scholar are not reviewed for quality. This means that it may include documents that do not fulfill WU’s accepted academic standards. It is therefore very important to evaluate the reliability of documents and their sources.
Which documents are indexed in Google Scholar?
It is not entirely clear which sources the search engine consults and which are left out. The only way to find out is to use a variety of search tools and compare the results.
As the origin of the data is often unclear, the reliability of the sources of the search results must be researched and evaluated on an individual basis.
Part of the problem is that bibliographic data from many different sources are automatically combined, meaning that the information provided could be incomplete or even inaccurate. For example, the title of a source can contain different spellings or abbreviations. This is why it’s important to search for different versions of names.
How does Google search? How does Google sort results?
Google shares very little information on the algorithms behind its search engines and on how search results are sorted. What is known is that search results are weighted based on the number of links from other pages that link to the page and on how important/influential Google considers the page to be. This is based on Google’s proprietary PageRank algorithm. Google Scholar also takes into account how often a particular paper is cited in other publications.
Web pages deemed less important can be ranked far behind in the result list. This can be a problem, especially when researching niche topics.
When should I use Google Scholar?
Searching with Google Scholar can be useful when trying to get an overview of a wide-reaching topic. For more in-depth insights into a specific topic, it is better to rely on the resources provided by the library.
Google Scholar is also a good tool to use to search for a specific document, especially if Google Scholar is connected to the WU University Library over the library link (see below for detailed instructions).
Do I have to pay for articles?
In some cases you will be directed to a page informing you that the full text of the article is only available for purchase. First, make sure that Google Scholar is connected to the library over the library link, so you can see if the article is available through WU. You can try going online using remote access or the WU network to gain access to the article. As the data in Google Scholar is not always complete or consistent, you can also check to see if you can access the article free of charge using the library’s databases and subscribed journals. Finally, you can order the article using our document delivery service.
Searching Google Scholar
The Google Scholar interface looks very similar to the universal Google search engine. You can use either the quick search function (simple search field) or select the Advanced Scholar Search option by clicking on the small arrow located at the end of the search field.
Search results in Google Scholar
The search string is shown above the search field. This is the query Google Scholar constructs out of your search terms in the Advanced Scholar Search. The search string for the example shown here looks like this:
allintitle: leadership styles scandinavia OR norway OR sweden OR finland OR denmark OR iceland
Unless otherwise specified, Google automatically connects the terms provided with the AND operator; this does not show up explicitly in the search string but it is used. In the filters on the left hand side a time frame is also automatically defined.
Search results are shown in the main frame of the window (see image: Search results in Google Scholar), while you can use the filters on the left to further refine your search. On the right, you will see details on how to access the document.
If the entry indicates SFX-Volltext – WU Wien, then the document is available directly from WU. Google Scholar does not search through all sources available at the university library, so you should always check if a title is available from the library even if you don’t find it with Google Scholar.
If you are using Google Scholar from outside the WU network, click on the arrow next to the My citations button, select Settings, then --> Library Links. Add Wirtschaftsuniversitaet Wien to your list of libraries and activate the check box next to it. You can also include the Austrian Union Catalog to be shown results from other Austrian libraries.
Which search operators can I use?
Multiple search operators can be combined to refine your search.
for example excludes .pdf type files from your search results.
"leading style" OR "leading behavior" management intitle:team
This search string will return documents containing the phrases leading style and/or leading behavior and the word management anywhere in the text. In addition, the document title must include the word team.
The table below includes a list of available operators.
Available search operators
|"..."||"leading styles"||To search for a specific phrase, put the phrase in quotation marks.|
|filetype||filetype:pdf||Hits will be restricted to the specified file format.|
|intitle||intitle:keynes||The search term should be included in the document title.|
|site||site:.edu||Results should be limited to a specific website or domain. This can be only part of the URL, for example .edu or .org.|
|author||author:keynes||The search will return only documents by a specific author.|
|OR||x OR y||Use OR to search for documents with either one or the other search term.|
|-||-competition||The minus sign returns results without the specified term in them.|
|+||+und||Google usually leaves out frequently used words like prepositions, connectors, letters or numbers. Use the + sign to incorporate the specified word in the search.|
Tips and tricks for online literature research
- Formulate your question clearly and precisely in writing
- Define the type of information (bibliographic, full text, factual/statistics, materials, multi-media)
- Select a starting point (specialist portal, search engine, metasearch engine, directory)
- Name search terms (min. 3 precise terms, preferably nouns)
- Enter search terms according to the search tool’s individual specifications
- Select the appropriate operators (AND, OR, NOT).
- Look carefully at the first three documents your search returns
- Adjust, refine, and improve your search step by step, try different search tools
- Search in different languages and use international services
- Source: Are their links to information about the source, "About us," copyright information?
- Accuracy: information structure, verified by citations or links, spelling or grammar mistakes, dead links?
- Objectivity: Is the source’s motivation recognizable, are conflicting opinions represented, is advertising clearly delineated from information?
- Topicality: available data: When was the page created, last update, is the information provided still current and relevant?
- Coverage: Are topics clearly defined, is the information provided comprehensive and sufficient, are confirmation links current, does the site provide new information or is it just compiled from other sources, is important information missing?
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