*Education: Google Scholar tips and instructions

Library Resources for the field of Education

Setting up your Google Scholar Preferences

Set your Google Scholar preferences to access journals and databases USC subscribes to via the Find It @ USC links.

To set your preferences:

1. Go to https://scholar.google.com

2. Go to the upper-left hand side of the page and click on hamburger icon - 3 horizontal lines.

  • This will open a box with more links on the left.

3. Select the Settings link.

4. Select Library Links on the next page.

4. In the search box, type in University of Southern California or USC then click the blue magnifying glass button.

5. Check the box next to University of Southern California - Find It @ USC.

6. Select Save.

Instructions with screenshots:

Google Scholar Search Tips

Use only the important words rather than a full sentence or question.

  • Not ideal:  what is best intervention for adolescents with an eating disorder 
  • Better:  intervention adolescent eating disorder 
  • All the words  you include in your search will be used to find matching content. 
    • Too many words will limit your results.

Use quotes to search for an exact word or set of words in a specific order.

  • Example: "psychosocial theory" or "dialectical behavioral therapy" or "same-sex marriage"
  • Tip: Only use this if you're looking for a very precise word or phrase, because otherwise you could be excluding helpful results by mistake.
Google adds the word AND between each search term.
  • You type in: eating disorder intervention --> Google looks for: eating AND disorder AND intervention
  • Exception: when using quotation marks in exact phrase searching

Searches are not case sensitive. 

  • Search terms can be inputted in lower or upper case - therapy, Therapy, THERAPY.
  • Exception: Boolean operator OR
    • Typing in teenage OR adolescent pregnancy will bring up items that use the teenage or adolescent to describe the population.
    • Here's an example (video): https://bit.ly/MKPrYc


Search terms/keywords

Step 1: Brainstorm  search terms or keywords on your topic before you start your search. One way to do this is write out your question or statement and pull out the important words.

Example: What are the best interventions for teenagers with eating disorders?

Important words: intervention, teenagers, eating disorders

One way to brainstorm: Go to Google Scholar and type in a word (for example, eating disorder) about your topic. Use quotation marks if you are using a phrase. Now scan the list of results and read over the titles and summaries of related works to pick up words related to your topic.

  • Searching for eating disorders will show articles with the terms: binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, bulimia nervosa.
  • You'll also notice terms that are not synomymous to eating disorders, like risk factors, obesity, assessment, and psychopathology, that may also be useful for your search.

Find synonyms for the other important words.

  • intervention - prevention, treatment, assessment
  • teenager - adolescent, young adult, adolescent girls, adolescent boys

Step 2: Put the search terms together - intervention adolescent eating disorders

  • Remember: use quotes for phrases so you can input - intervention adolescent "eating disorders"


Step 3: Go to Google Scholar and try your search!

Using the Find It @ USC Links - Common Issues

connects you to USC's subscriptions to journals and databases. Click on the link to get the full-text article or information on how to get the full-text.


1. The link took me to a USC page with the article's citation, with this message - Content is available via the following links.

  • Click on the link titled Article or Journal.
  • You'll have to do a few more steps to find the article you want.

2. The link brought me to another page (may look like the journal's site) with the article's citation and a bunch of links on it.

  • Look for a link titled full-text pdf or PDF.

3. The link brough me to a page with the message The article is not available on the Web through USC

No Find it @ USC link or any other link - what to do?

Click on the Check USC Libraries link to check if USC Libraries has access to the article via another database or if it's only available in print. And you can request the article directly from the document delivery department from this page.

Find more articles on your topic

The Cited by link provides a list of other items that used the article in their reference list.

The Related articles link will list items similar to the article you are viewing.