Some things you might not know about Google Scholar

Since 2004, Google Scholar has been widely used for searching the biomedical literature. Google Scholar is not a “human-curated” database but a search engine that prowls the entire internet and attempts to narrow the results to “scholarly” ones based on machine-automated criteria. Google Scholar searches the full text of articles instead of just titles and abstracts, which can sometimes make searches less precise.

While most users type in a few keywords and hope for the best, there are some useful tips that may make your searching more effective. 

  • In a phrase search, use double quotes [“metastatic prostate cancer”] will look for those exact words in that exact order. 
  • Don’t use the Boolean connector “AND” in your search queries as it is automatically assumed
  • Do use the Boolean connector “OR” in capital letters for searching synonyms [“atrial fibrillation” OR “atrial flutter”]
  • Instead of “NOT” use the minus sign before a word [measles –children] to exclude it
  • You can restrict your search to government or educational institutions by typing in your search and then the word “site”:gov or edu [osteoporosis site: gov]
  • After a completed search, you can limit the time frame by clicking a left margin option [Any time, Since 2018, Since 2017, Since 2014 or Custom range…]

To access the full text of a found article citation, look for the “Get it!@Becker” or “Get it!@WU” links (this works while on the Wash U network or if you have a proxy account).

If you don’t find what you need via Google Scholar, try the Becker Library “Find a Database” page at

Happy searching!