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Google Scholar Help Guide

Guide to searching Google Scholar (GS) and connecting it with the UW Libraries.


Boolean Operators

Google Scholar has a character limit for your search string and these tips will reduce the amount of characters needed to communicate the same information to the search engine.


Google Scholar interprets spaces as the AND Boolean operator (tip originated from Wichor Bramer). Example: Searching cancer AND treatment is equivalent to searching cancer treatment.


Google Scholar interprets the | symbol as the OR Boolean operator (tip originated from Wichor Bramer). Example: Searching cancer OR "malignant neoplasm" is equivalent to searching cancer|"malignant neoplasm" (note that there are no spaces around the | symbol).


Google Scholar interprets the dash as the NOT Boolean operator. Example: Searching for cancer NOT lung is equivalent to searching cancer -lung.

Please Note: The NOT operator should be used with caution, you may miss out on relevant results that discuss your topic and the topic you are 'NOTting' out of the search. More information on using NOT with caution.

Resources & Tips

Grey Literature

Finding Grey Literature with Google Scholar

Google Scholar (GS) is designed to retrieve scholarly literature (which often includes peer reviewed literature), so you must add grey lit keywords to use it for this purpose. For example: [insert your search terms without the square brackets] dissertation|thesis|report and be sure to include all keywords for the types of grey literature you want to find. Read above about using Boolean Operators in Google to understand the use of the | symbol. 

Finding Grey Literature with Google

If you have found information on your topic on the web from, for example, a government or nonprofit website, you may use Google Advanced Search to search that website with the power of Google.

  1. In the Advanced Search, 'all these words' is the same as a regular Google search, you may enter your terms there and/or in any other applicable line (e.g., using an exact word or phrase means Google will not use stemming or lemmatization to find similar words). 
  2. Narrow your results with the 'site or domain' blank by including a site like or a domain like .edu to only view results from that website or from any website with that domain. You may also or instead limit to a file type, e.g., if you know your instructor has posted a PowerPoint file online, you might limit to .ppt.
  3. Click 'Advanced Search'; all results, except ads, will be from the site or domain name you specified and/or the file type you specified.

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