Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding a particular article when you remember (almost) nothing about it

You saw an article the other day that had the PERFECT quote to use in your paper. Now if only you could remember where you saw it. Or the journal it was in, or who wrote it. Gina somebody? Maybe Gerry? Ack!

There's a good tool for finding that article based on whatever fragmentary information you have, and that's Google Scholar.

I was reading something about Frederick Douglass and it contained a really memorable phrase. Something about "rhetorical somersaults."

So I go to Google Scholar on the Library's website ( That way I log in to use it, so that my search results are linked to full-text in the Library's databases. Then I search Google Scholar for

+"frederick douglass" +"rhetorical somersaults"

... And I get exactly one search result: "Violence as an Instrument for Social Change: The Views of Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)" by Leslie Friedman Goldstein. That's my article!

And because I searched Google Scholar with the Empire State College login, there's a full-text link right next to the search result, and it takes me right to the article in one of the library's databases.

Let's try this again. There was an article about John Adams that I like, but I can't remember the title right. It was something like "The Founding Fathers: A Reform Project in Action." Or was it "A Reform Convention." Or maybe "Revision Convention?" "Revolutionary"? Something. I try searching all the variations in the databases and it's taking forever. But in Google Scholar, I just type in the title as I think I remember it, without quotes. In this case, I typed in

The Founding Fathers: A Revolutionary Convention in Action

It turns out I had the title all wrong. It was "The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action." But Google Scholar found it anyway!

Google has such a powerful search engine that it makes sense to use it whenever you are unsure how to word your search, or can't remember all the critical details. Just remember to access Google Scholar through the Empire State College Library at so you have fast and easy access to the full-text through our databases.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

1 comment:

TopherBricks said...

Great post for any scholar or just any person that forgot to bookmark that page they were reading! Just one of many SEO services that Google has created to make our lives easier!