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Google Scholar (EN): Find out more

General information

Cited by 5716: citation searching with Google Scholar

Cited by link Google Scholar

Google Scholar shows citation numbers below the publications. Clicking on the link leads you to a list of citing publications. This is a good way to find related and more recent information.

Search results, but also the list of citing publications, are partly listed by the number of citations. That is why the results on top often contain older books or journals.

The number of citations are usually higher than those found by citation databases such as Web of Science or Scopus. This is because Google Scholar also counts citations in books and some non-scientific journals.

The number of citations in Google Scholar are difficult to interpret. Often a book or journal is included more than once in the database by the way Google works.  And these versions have also different numbers of citations.

The special Libguide Citing UBU LibGuide citing reference searching  offers more information about citing, citations and citation searching, and where and how it should be done.

Too few results, what to do now?

If you get too few results, you can:

  • Use less specific terms
  • broaden you search by adding alternatives to your search terms in an OR relation (for instance: segregation OR discrimination);
  • Broaden your search by entering different word versions: or in an OR relation (for instance: segregation OR segregated);
  • Broaden your search by removing an aspect/variable
  • Check the correct spelling again
  • Use othe search engines and databases

Too many results, what to do now?

If there are too many results to be shown/viewed you can:

  • Trust that the results are sorted by relevance. Google Scholar has a high-quality relevance ranking, but:
    • it only works well if you have entered enough search terms
    • it is often out of balance because the ranking is also based on citation count. As a result older articles and books occur disproportionately more often in the top results
  • Specify your search with more specific terms or by adding an extra subject-related aspect to your search question
  • Make your search action more selective by limiting it to a particular website (for instance by entering: or
  • Limit your search to particular publication years. This is especially important if:
    • you want to exclude certain publication years in view of the subject
    • you only want to find results from recent years

Advanced search

To access the advanced search option, click on the three line icon in the upper left corner of the Google Scholar search page.

Google Scholar menu (English)   Google Scholar advanced search (English)

Explore the different search options to see what is most effective for your search, such as searching for exact phrases (for example 'social media' or 'heart attack'), or perhaps only search in the title of an article.

  • Use the return articles authored by option to search for a specific author
  • Use the return articles published in option to search in a specific joural
  • Use the return articles dated between option to limit to specific years.


You can also search advanced by using operators:

  • space is AND (e.g: horses asthma)
  • | is OR (e.g. youth|adolescents|teens)
  • "..." is exact phrase searching (e.g. "heart attack")
  • - is NOT (e.g. -humans)
  • met + can you turn off the automatische stemming (e.g. +target)
  • AROUND(number) works as a proximity search (e.g. horses AROUND(3) asthma; NB you can use spaces here)
  • intitle or allintitle is searching in the title only (e.g. intitle:"language acquisition"), see also intext (intext:"social media"); source (source:"journal title"); author (author:"Jan Janssen"). Use "..." when needed.
  • Filetype is searching for a specific filteype (e.g. filetype:pdf)
  • Site is limiting to a certain website or domain (e.g.

What does relevance ranking mean?

Relevance ranking is about the way in which a search engine or database sorts your search results. Sometimes the default order is chronological (by publication year), but sometimes also by relevance. Sometimes you can choose from other options, such as title or the number of citations. The order of the search results is very important, because people look no further than the top ten or twenty hits.

If relevance ranking is used, the results having the best match with your search question (and with any filters you might have set up, for instance on document type or date) are on top of the list. To determine the best match with your search, search systems look at:

  • the number of times search terms occur in the text
  • the position of the search term in the text (title, in the beginning, at the end)
  • whether terms are relative common in your document but releatively rare on varage in all other documents

Of most articles, Google Scholar searches the full text and applies a ranking that considers both relevance and the number of citations. The downside  of this method is that recent articles are often not included in the top results. Therefore we advise you to repeat your search action and filter by  the last couple of years.

What to do with all those links below the search results?

Cited by: the number of articles and books that refer to this publication

Related articles: Articles of which the list of literature references is very similar to the publication in question. Sometimes this link will lead you to articles  you would not have found by your own search, but which are nonetheless relevant to your subject

Cached: A local copy made by Google of the webpage on which the article or the reference to that article is published. Can be very convenient if the original webpage has been relocated or deleted.

View as HTML: shows the publication as ordinary webpage instead of a page in PDF-format. This is the copy that Google has made

Library Search: looks for the publication in Worldcat, the joint catalogue of thousands of libraries. From here you can check the UBUlink to see if Utrecht University Library holds the publication. PLEASE NOTE: the latter option does not work well for e-books

BL direct: a link to the document supply service of the British Library. There you can order an article for money. You should only do this if you are absolutely sure that the publication is not available in Utrecht (so after following the UBUlink and a check of the UBU journal list and WorldCat)

All n versions: All places where Google has found the publication. Often these are simple duplicates, but sometimes you will find a link which leads you to a full text version that is nowhere else available. So follow this link if you cannot access the text in other ways (by following the UBUlink, following the PDF/DOC link in the right hand column, clicking on the title)

Import into RefWorks/Endote etc.:  You only see this link when you have indicated under preferences (below the gear icon gear icon ) that you are using one of these literature management tools. You can use these programmes to save the data of the publication. Please note: this is only possible for one publication at a time, not for more publications at once

UBUlink / fulltext@UBUlink: You only see this link if you access Google Scholar via the Utrecht University Library website. The links lead to an overview of the ways in which the publication is available for you as member of the UU community. Google weekly  receives information about the UU journal subscriptions. Always follow this link to access the full text. Information about the electronic availibility within Utrecht University is usually found in the right hand column. If not, click on the UBUlink below the search result to see if the library has alternative solutions

[PDF/DOC/HTML/TXT] from: links to freely available versions of the article: sometimes on the author's website, sometimes on a university website. Please note: these are so-called 'last author versions': a version of the article which has not been edited by the publisher and sometimes differs slightly from the final published version.

Info elsewhere

Why does Google Scholar show so many older articles?

Many searches give you predominantly articles that are 5-20 years old. This is caused by the hybrid ranking Google employs to sort the results, taking into account the number of times an article was cited. Newer articles have had less time to accrue citations to them. To view the new articles, use the year filter options from the Google Scholar menu on the left of the screen.

Where are the most recent articles?

Google Scholar also contains references to new articles, but because the way in which the results are sorted, often based on the citation count, the newest articles are not always on top of the list. You can solve this by:

  • filtering by year using the buttons in the left menu
  • sorting by the date on which Google has found the article, also via the left menu; this only works for the previous year

Keeping up to date with Google Scholar

Keep up to date of recent articles on your subject with Google Scholar alerts. For this you need a Google account. Try to formulate a selective search action otherwise you will be showered with messages. The results will be shown on the site, but can also be sent to your email address.

Please note that queries used for Google Scholar alerts can hold up to 100 characters.