How to use Google Scholar to find Research topics?

By Arslan Shah 7 Min Read

Google Scholar is a research-based tool designed to freely access scholarly information from books, peer reviews, abstracts, and scholarly articles. Stating in another way, it provides researchers with ways to broadly search for the contribution of renowned researchers in their respective fields. From one place, you can search for various work, irrespective of the discipline. Mostly, Google Scholar contains only abstracts of the scholarly literature. If you find something that matches your area of interest, you can use other tools such as sci-hub to access the full article. The process of information gathering using Google Scholar can be used for accomplishing numerous research tasks. It is an authentic tool for conducting secondary research and finding research topics. The majority of us know about the role of Google Scholar in conducting academic research. Thus, this article will discuss how Google Scholar can help you in the preliminary stages of your academic research for finding research topics.

1. How to find a recent article on Google Scholar?

The popularity of Google Scholar, even among UK research writers, is due to its user-friendly nature and open access. The home page of Google Scholar contains a single bar menu where you need to write something about your interest. Once you press the enter icon, a new page will open that contains all scholarly articles that say something about the entered keywords, in one or another way. Knowing the recent trend in your field is overwhelming; thus, Google Scholar’s feature to custom the year range can do it for you. To search for newer articles, you can follow the following steps:

  1. At the extreme left corner of your webpage, you can click on the ‘since year’ option. It will open a list of all recent articles.
  2. To access the new edition of the published papers, click the ‘Sort by data’ option.
  3. You can receive new information about the searched keywords via email by pressing the envelope icon.
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2. How to access the full text of an article on Google Scholar?

Google Scholar offers limited access to the full text. Moreover, you can review the abstract for all restricted and open access articles. If you are a fresher but periodically visit the labs specified for work related to your interest, the abstract is more than enough for finding research topics. However, if you are entirely blank about recent research trends and need guidance to start from scratch, you must thoroughly read at least five articles. Full article reading at Google Scholar needs a subscription, but you can try a few things:

  • You can try to find the article by clicking a library link at the right corner of the search results, for example: ‘Findlt@Harvard.’
  • You can also click on the ‘PDF’ label to the search results’ right to access the full articles.
  • The ‘All versions’ option under the search result is also helpful in getting access to the full text. It suggests all alternative sources where you can open a desired scholarly article.
  • The ‘cited by’ and ‘related articles’ options under the searched article can help you make your own library of the related articles.

3. How do we find a literature gap in finding research topics?

Literature gap and research gap is another important way to find research topics using Google Scholar. You can make a short library of articles and try to identify the research gaps. Gaps in literature are missing or defective parts of research literature. The literature gap is the best tool to suggest the scope for further research. To identify the research/literature gap, you can follow the following steps:

  1. Organize the data extracted from the source library you have just created
  2. Identify the themes, debates and methods used
  3. Compare different themes or methods used in more than one research article you searched.
  4. Make a list containing the strengths and weaknesses of methods used in different studies.
  5. Based on the strengths and weaknesses in previously published articles, select goals for your research
  6. Most of the time, the weaknesses in literature become gaps in the literature.

A literature gap is a powerful tool for setting the goals for your research. Later on, you can use the SMART framework to know whether your research goals are specific, measurable, accurate, reliable, and timely. Once you have decided which problem you want to solve during your research, the only step left in finding research topics is to identify the key terms. The arrangement of the key terms that can best define the nature of your study is termed a research topic.

4. Additional tips for finding the research topic

Using Google Scholar to find research topics is not a difficult task. Nevertheless, to get the best answers for your search, you must follow some additional tips:

  1. If you are new to research, you can directly select the key terms by exploring the secondary sources, such as Wikipedia.
  2. If you are too passionate about exploring the trends on which there is minimal publication, the ‘reference’ section of the most relevant scholarly article can open new doors of knowledge.
  3. Never forget to click the ‘cited by’ option on the Google Scholar home page. It is also a practical way to gain insight into the saturation level and generalization trends relevant to your area of interest.

Final thoughts:

Google Scholar is a free-to-use tool for finding research topics. You can use it to search the recent research trends in a particular discipline. It facilitates researchers in selecting the research problem by identifying literature gaps. Literature and research gap identification is a long but credible method of finding research topics. Additional tips such as keywords section by exploring secondary sources, using the ‘cited by’ option, and reviewing the reference section are crucial for finding research topics via Google Scholar.

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