Social Work *: Using Google Scholar

Library resources for the social work profession.

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.

Video with step by step instructions

To set your preferences:

1. Go to

2. Go to the upper-left hand side of the page, select the following icon:

icon to get into google scholar options

  • This will open up the Google Scholar menu.
  • Select “Settings” or click on the gear icon if you do not see the word “Settings”.

Google scholar settings icon

3. Select Library Links on the left-hand side of the page..

4. In the search box, type in University of Southern California or USC and click the search icon. 

5. Select University of Southern California - Find It @ USC and then select Save.

Google Scholar FAQs

  1. Why does the Find it @ USC link take me to a USC page with multiple links for the full text of the article?
    • ​​The Find it @ USC link is there so that you can have a link back to the USC catalog to determine if USC has full text access to the article. 
    • Select one of the available links to access the full text. If it is not available as a full text through USC libraries, don't worry! You can still get access by requesting it through our interlibrary loan department.
  2. Why does the Find it @ USC link appear next to some items but not others? What if there is no Find it @ USC link? 
    • ​​Google Scholar usually displays the Find it @ USC link after it has compared the citation to our electronic subscriptions. It will not look to see if we have a physical resource in our libraries and it also will not be able to match if it is an incomplete citation. You can always search our USC Libraries catalog directly using the article title on the USC Libraries homepage.
  3. Is everything on Google Scholar free?
    • Google Scholar will sometimes link directly to the publisher's site which will likely charge you a fee to access the article. However, USC may subscribe to those journals so you can always check our online search system on the libraries homepage:

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.
  • Find synonyms of your keywords and try different searches. 
    • intervention - prevention, treatment, assessment
    • adolescent- teenager, teen, young adult

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

  • Example: "psychosocial theory" or "dialectical behavioral therapy" 
  • Tip: Only use this if you're looking for a very precise word or phrase, because otherwise you could be excluding helpful results.
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):


Tips for Sorting Google Results

Google can be a powerful research tool that helps you find policy and legislative data, statistics, policy reports, and more. The trick is knowing how to get Google to find the good stuff for you.

Know your domains:

The end of a web address (URL), after the dot, is the domain. For example,, edu is the domain. You can use domains to filter out your Google results. 

Common domains are:

edu -- educational sites

org -- non-profit sites

gov -- government sites

Google domain filtering:

Add the words "" (or org/edu/com/etc.) to the end of your Google search. Use a semicolon to separate domains.

The search below is asking Google to find sources about HIV infections in Los Angeles, and limiting my results to websites that end in .gov or .org -- in other words, I only want results from government or non-profit organizations.

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.

Limiting publishing dates of articles

Google Scholar allows you to limit your results to the latest articles. Type in a custom date range on the left side of the results page and this will only bring up the articles published within those years.