I had a student in my office the other day and I was surprised to find out that they had never used Google Scholar for their research. Google Scholar will show you results of your search in journals. If you want quality articles on your subject you will find them in journals. If you are not familiar with journals then you should be, they are where academics publish their work. You can compare a usual Google search with a Google Scholar search. With the usual Google search you will find all sorts of webpages coming up. These pages are often not reliable and often change and disappear. Your bibliography for your essay will not be a good one with a lot of random websites in it. Remember – anyone can publish anything on the Internet (yes, including me!!). But journals have academic reliability. If you put a search term into Google Scholar (address: http://scholar.google.co.uk/) you will find lots of articles in journals coming up. If you are doing your search on a university computer you should be able to access these articles – although it may take several clicks to reach the text itself. First you will be taken to the journal page and you will see the abstract. Read the abstract because this will tell you whether or not the article is really what you want. You will have to look around the page to find the link which says DOWNLOAD THE FULL TEXT, usually it is a PDF file. Your university has paid for access to these journals so you should use them! (Some of the journals may not be accessible through your university.)If you have a laptop and you want to use it from home to access journals then you should go along to the university library and ask the staff about accessing e-journals from home. They may be able to give you a password so you can do this. However, I would recommend that you try it on a university computer first so you know what is available. If your university has not subscribed to the journals you will not be able to access them and you will be asked to pay. When you see the cost of getting the article you will be horrified! The cost could be $30! For one article! And you might not even think it’s that good after you’ve read it! I wouldn’t recommend buying an article if you haven’t seen it.
When you have found your good quality material just make sure you use it properly for your work and that means proper referencing and paraphrasing. Your lecturer or tutor will know immediately if the work you give in is not yours and they are constantly watching out for this. Copying work and giving it in pretending it is your work is called plagiarism – more on that later!