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Library Resources Help [HPSC]

A selection of useful resources

Google Scholar (with Lean Library)

Why might I need Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is an academic equivalent of Google. It works by 'indexing' the data contained in scholarly literature—different formats and across all disciplines—so that the user can find relevant research. It is freely available, and it can supplement your own research. 

What is Lean Library?

Google Scholar can be frustrating to use because it is often unclear whether or not you have access to the results it finds. The Library has solved this problem for you through the purchase of Lean Library. Lean Library is an extension that you download to your browser that lets you know if the University of Derby provides the content for you. If you are using Google Scholar, then it is highly recommended that you use Lean Library.

How do I access Google Scholar?

You can access Google Scholar freely here:

How does it relate to Library Search?

Google Scholar and Library Search are similar in one way, but they are very different in other ways.


They include data from many different academic publishers and institutions.


Library Search provides a definitive account of the sources that it includes—thereby providing you with transparency.

Library Search tells you immediately whether or not you have access to the resources you find. You can even request inter-library loans if the Library does not have the work you need.

Library Search is a complete, authoritative information portal for your journey at the University of Derby. 

Google Scholar can be difficult to search effectively.

But, Google Scholar can surprise and provide results from quite hidden research environments. 

Should I use Google Scholar?

There is nothing inherently wrong with Google Scholar, but I would highly recommend not using it as your only source of information. Use it in conjunction with Library Search and the other databases described in this section of the LibGuide. And do remember to install Lean Library if you are using Google Scholar!  (You could also install the browser add-on LibKey Nomad which also works with Library Search to let you know if there's content from our subscriptions / collections that has come up in your results.

The examples on the next couple of tabs are education-focused; what's important is the process, rather than the content. Once you know how to do something e.g., creating a search strategy for a resource, you should be able to take the knowledge of how to do it and apply it no matter what you want to know.

The following video introduces you to the basics of constructing a search using AND, OR, and ()

A word like learn is used a lot in education studies. But when you have to search for learn using databases, you also need to be thinking about all its related words: e.g. learns, learned, learning, and learners.

Some databases use the truncation symbol * to solve the problem:

learn* will find learns, learned, learning, and learners.

Google Scholar does not like the * symbol, but it does have automatic truncation. If you search for learn, Google Scholar will automatically look for learn, learns, learned, learning, and learners. 

But a word like education is a little trickier. You can easily imagine educators, educating, and educated as being works you'd be interested in if you were looking for the topic of education. If you typed in education to Google Scholar, its automatic truncation would find, for example, educational, but it wouldn't find educators, educating, or educated (although it may give it a try to varying degrees of success).

This means that you need to be a bit careful when searching for some words—to ensure that Google Scholar is working as you wish. The following search string should solve the problem for words like education:

Let's say you're interested in a topic like teacher anxiety.

It may seem simple, but you do actually have a few options available to you when looking for research about teacher anxiety.

If we type in teacher anxiety into Google Scholar, it will automatically insert an invisible AND between the words. In other words, Google Scholar has done this: teacher AND anxiety.

As long as teacher and anxiety appear in the research—for example in the title or abstract—Google Scholar will find them. In these examples, teacher in addition to anxiety appear both together and a word apart, but they are both relevant articles:

But in the next example, teacher and anxiety both appear in the abstract of the article—thus fulfilling the logic of AND—but teacher and anxiety are now not related to each other: 

This can sometimes become problematic, depending on the search you are doing. There are two solutions we can use:

Solution 1: Using quotation marks

Put the words you want to find in quotation marks to tell Google Scholar to find this exact phrase—i.e. everything between the quotes. Depending on the topic, it may look very similar to the standard teacher AND anxiety method, but remember we are forcing the words to be together:

"teacher anxiety" 

Using this method finds papers like:

But using this method would not find the following papers—even though they are about teacher anxiety—because teacher and anxiety are not consecutive words like "teacher anxiety":

The problem is that using "teacher anxiety" can sometimes be so specific that you miss relevant research in which the words don't always appear together. But using the teacher AND anxiety method can also be so broad that you start to find irrelevant results.

Solution 2: Proximity searching

But there is a solution. You can actually tell Google Scholar that you want words to be a certain distance apart. It is called proximity searching, and it looks like this:

teacher AROUND (3) anxiety

AROUND (3) means that I am telling Google Scholar that teacher and anxiety must be within three words of one another. Generally, three is a good number to use, but you could expand or contract the distance between words: e.g. AROUND (2) or even AROUND (4). In other words, I will find teacher and anxiety when they appear together, but I am also allowing for other words to appear between them.

We will now no longer find articles in which teacher and anxiety are totally unrelated—as we did with teacher AND anxiety—but we will not be too strict in our search—as we were with "teacher anxiety" (but note that we have replicated the same effect, which is good!)


References to examples used

(1) Henderson, J. & Corry, M. (2021) Teacher anxiety and technology change: a review of the literature. Technology, pedagogy and education. [Online] 30 (4), 573–587.

(2) Gibbs, A. R. (2020) A Phenomenological study to determine if teachers experience anxiety as they teach students with dyslexia. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

(3) Keavney, G. & Sinclair, K. E. (1978) Teacher concerns and teacher anxiety: a neglected topic of classroom research. Review of educational research. [Online] 48 (2), 273–290.

(4) Kristen Ferguson et al. (2012) Predicting teacher anxiety, depression, and job satisfaction. Journal of Teaching and Learning. [Online] 8 (1).

(5) Pressley, T. et al. (2021) Teacher stress and anxiety during COVID-19: an empirical study. School psychology. [Online] 36 (5), 367–376.

Here are some example search strings so that you can see how a search can be constructed:

1.  "What is the evidence from the literature of the role of the occupational therapist in falls prevention?"

("occupational therapist" OR "occupational therapy") (Fall AROUND (2) (prevent OR reduce OR reduction))

2. Preventing ventilator-acquired pneumonia - is chlorhexidine better than toothbrushing?

((mouth OR oral OR tooth OR gum) AROUND (1) (care OR hygiene)) (chlorhexidine OR toothbrush) (ventilator AROUND (3) pneumonia)

3. Treatment options for maladaptive daydreaming induced dissociation in teenagers: recommendations from the literature.

((excessive OR abnormal OR immersive OR maladaptive) AROUND (2) (fantasising OR fantasizing OR daydreaming)) (diagnosis OR treatment OR intervention) (teenager OR adolescent OR adolescence))

4. What is the evidence-based pathway for patients with lung cancer?

(“Lung cancer” OR “lung neoplasms” OR “lung adenocarcinoma) pathway patients evidence-based (good OR enriched OR positive AROUND (2) outcome)