Getting the Most From Google Scholar, or, Squirrels are Friends, not Food


SquirrelScholarEditor’s Note: This guest post was written by Geneseo alum and former Milne Library intern Margaret Craft, when she was a senior here last year. It’s always good to revisit this information!

I’m sure when you think of Google, you think of fuzzy dogs, craigs list, and the strange questions Google helpfully fills in for you, including

and the deepest most applicable question lingering at our core:

When can you eat squirrel?

…which a truly desperate college student on Geneseo’s campus might start to wonder, as the meal plan dwindles and you keep losing staring contests. (Vegans: it’s okay. Keep reading, it gets better, maybe.)


Day after day, eventually you start to wonder what you couldn’t eat those little buggers on. Pizza? Other squirrels?

This might require some research. For all you know, studies at Geneseo may have found a significant portion of squirrels have secret identities and should therefore be protected, not baked.

Superhero squirrel

What you, the savvy Geneseo student, would thus benefit from using is the mind-bogglingly awesome part of Google devoted to this need, sneakily hidden under products. Yes, indeed this grail of searching is none other than GOOGLE SCHOLAR, a versatile research tool that looks for your search terms in articles, patents, and book citations.

On the homepage it tries to be modest and say it only looks for articles, but it will search for books as well. Such results will appear with a [BOOK] designation at the beginning of the citation.

Once you’ve typed a search term in, such as “squirrel,” you’ll be shown a master list of all results.

Google Scholar search results

You may note that the third result on the list concerns movement representations in squirrel monkeys, which, while adorable are not a viable food source on Geneseo’s campus and thus not your concern.

To get rid of squirrel monkey results, you can exclude the word “monkey” in the advanced search. Clicking on the arrow next to the search box pulls up the advanced search functions.

Advanced search

To get rid of squirrel monkey results, you can exclude the word “monkey”:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.26.42 PM

You can further narrow results down by using the exact phrase option:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.26.34 PM

and now the top result (no superhero squirrel research in sight, sadly) based on my choice to sort by relevancy  is:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.28.08 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.31.59 PMBummer. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a not so fun thing where your brain degenerates through infection by proteins called prions. Apparently it is possible to contract the disease through eating the brains of squirrels that are infected with these prions. However, when I look at more recent results by asking Google to only look for results in the last 14 years, I get this article, which is directly available for free through the link for Springer at the right:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.32.13 PM

It concludes that it is unlikely that infectious prions will appear in red squirrels. Whew. But maybe we have gray squirrels…

Underneath the citation and excerpt, you can see how many times it has been cited, none in this case, and how many websites have the full text available (All 11 versions). The link for “Related articles” at the far left will show related materials that includes others more recent than this article, these may include other types of squirrels. There is also the option to cite the article directly or save it to “my library,” which is a personalized memory bank that will keep track of citations you’re interested in.

Now the varied danger of eating squirrel brains is corroborated by another article that talks about more than just red squirrels:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.35.38 PM

It has been cited by 11 other more recent articles, which could be useful for further research into the topic. Additionally, there is no link to a free version to the right of the citation, meaning none of the 8 versions showed are available for free download. Boo.

You could cry, but wait! There should be, if you are on Geneseo’s wifi network or using an on-campus computer, a “Get It” link to the right of all articles. It may also be listed under “More” under the citation as well. This will take you to the glorious IDS request page, which should get you the article within 48 hours! REJOICE PEOPLE.

And if you are not on-campus, there is an alternative. Click “Settings” on this menu:

Google Scholar settings

What will appear is this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.39.04 PM

Type, as I have, SUNY Geneseo and hit search.  Check the box next to “Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo – Get it”.

Now hit “Save” and you will return to your search.  Now when you look to the right of a citation, you should see the Get It next to it, or More below the citation itself.

Happy searching*!

*Just remember to research before you eat. You never know.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.40.46 PM

*Vegans: it’s okay. Keep reading, it gets better.


Apocalypsmas: How the world might actually end

First, let’s state emphatically that despite the recent silliness about the topic (even on this blog), the world is not ending tomorrow.  To repeat, the world is NOT ending tomorrow.

On the other hand, it will probably end one day. But when we talk about the end of the world, we are really talking about two different scenarios. First, there are circumstances that could make the earth uninhabitable for human beings, making Homo sapiens just one more in a long list of extinct species. Second, there are the circumstances that could actually destroy the planet, making the list of extinct species much, much longer.

Super volcanoes – Beneath Yellowstone National Park is a super volcano, centered over a hot spot transferring heat from the Earth’s mantle into the crust. Over the past several million years, this super volcano has erupted several times, ejecting enough rock and volcanic ash to cover one third of north America. Consistent monitoring of the area by geologists indicates that an eruption isn’t imminent, but we’re due. The caldera has erupted every 700,000 years on average over the last 2.1 million years, and its been 640,000 years since the last eruption. While an eruption at Yellowstone won’t cause human extinction, it will cause a lot of death and destruction in North America. See this article or the video below for more information.

Man made disasters (e.g. nuclear war) – Of course, we’re also at risk for destroying ourselves. With over 17,000 nuclear warheads, the world has enough nuclear bombs on hand to make life very difficult for the humans who survive an all-out nuclear war. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists maintains the Doomsday clock, analyzing our risk of nuclear war and catastrophic destruction.

Asteroid impact – Remember the dinosaurs? The mass extinction in which the dinosaurs died was the result of a large impact in the Yucatan peninsula region of Mexico 65 million years ago. The resulting environmental conditions decimated many living organism, and almost no large animals survived. Humans might survive a smaller impact, but a large impact is likely to kill us off. NASA regularly tracks objects in outer space that might impact the earth and estimates our risk (not that big, at the moment). For a great book on how scientists discovered the cause of the mass extinction 65 million years ago, read T. rex and the crater of doom.

Artist's depiction of the Snowball earth, 2.3 billion years ago.
Artist’s depiction of the Snowball earth, 2.3 billion years ago.

Snow ball earth – Starting about 2.3 billion years ago, the Earth went through several cycles of the “Snowball Earth” in which the entire earth was covered with ice and snow from pole to pole for millions of years. This was before most multicellular organisms and animals evolved, and it was the unicellular bacteria that were able to live through the protracted cold spell. If such an event were to occur again, humans probably wouldn’t make it. The likelihood of another Snowball earth is small, however. Earth’s atmosphere (considered an important factor in the development of the Snowball) is different than it was 2.3 billion years ago, and the Sun is brighter.

Sun expansion – While there is still some debate about how, precisely, the life cycle of the Sun will destroy the earth, it seems very likely that we won’t survive. The Sun is now about 40% brighter than it was when the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago. As the sun grows brighter, temperatures on the earth will increase until life is no longer sustainable and the oceans boil away. As the sun increases in size, it will also impact the orbit of the earth. The earth may or may not escape being engulfed by the red giant version of our Sun, although recent calculations suggest we won’t make it. Of course, all of this won’t happen for another 7.59 billion years, so you’ll still have to suffer through that family Christmas carol sing along this year. And next. And the one after that.

Artists depiction of what the earth might look like in 7 billion years when the Sun becomes a red giant. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Fsgregs.

One way or the other, the human race isn’t likely to be living on earth in about 8 billion years. We might destroy ourselves, or we might perish when the earth is destroyed, or (most optimistically) we may have colonized other solar systems.

Whatever event causes our demise, it won’t be happening tomorrow. I’m planning to open Christmas presents on December 25th.

Accessing eBooks @ Milne


Did you know you have access to a collection of over 36,000 ebooks through Milne Library?  Finding them is easy!






Here’s how:

Step 1. Search for the topic or book title you need in our IDS Search.  From the results page, select “ebooks.”

Step 2.  Click on the title of the book you wish to access.

Step 3. Click on the “weblink” provided.

In addition to the ebooks purchased by Milne Library, you can access millions of ebooks on the web from sources like Google Books, Project Gutenberg, and HathiTrust.  Find out how more on our library guide for finding ebooks.

Top ten reasons to use Google Calendar

  1. It’s FREE!  Geneseo Apps are provided through CIT (see these 3 easy steps for setting up your account).
  2. You can import your class schedule into your Google Calendar right from myGeneseo.
  3. Keep track of multiple calendars in one place and customize the color for each (work schedule, class schedules, extracurricular activities, etc…).
  4. Share your calendar with classmates and friends.
  5. It’s in the cloud!  Google Calendar is available on any device with access to the internet.
  6. Get Google calendar on your phone (including Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry).
  7. Get event reminders.  You can set up pop-up or email reminders minutes, hours, days or weeks ahead of the event.
  8. Send invitations and track rsvp’s for any event.
  9. Google Calendar also has a wide database of public calendars that you can subscribe to for free (i.e. U.S. Holidays).
  10. With your Geneseo Apps account, you also have an account for nearly 50 other useful Google products.

Some libraries reject Google’s offer to digitize book collections

On October 22, The New York Times ran a front page article about several large research libraries’ rejection of Google’s offer to scan and digitize large portions of their collections. The Boston Public Library, University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts are among several of New England’s largest libraries to refuse the offer.

Instead, many of these libraries are working with an organization called Open Content Alliance to make “…the material available to any search service…”, and not just limited to Google, who forbids libraries to make their collections available to other commercial search services when Google scans the materials.

Is this a mistake? Does it matter who is providing the service as long as patrons (aka students, faculty, staff) get the material they need? Or, as the refusing libraries counter, does this provide an alternative to Google and ensure that material is openly available and access is unhindered by corporate restrictions set by one search service?

Give us your thoughts and post a comment.

Do you know why you use the search engine you do?

Do you use Google for your web searches? Yahoo! search? Windows Live search? Why do you prefer the one you use?

The Google Operating System Blog recently polled its readers about which search they prefer. The twist was that they had users perform searches using each service in a modified form, so that is was impossible to tell (based on appearance) which search was which. Preferences were (theoretically) based purely on search results. You can read the original post, and the poll results. Google won with 1041 votes, followed by Windows Live with 711 and Yahoo! with 604. (Users were allowed to vote for more than one if they felt that the search results were equally good.)

This poll isn’t scientific, and there are numerous flaws with the methodology, but it raises some interesting questions. Google searches account for about 53% of all searches performed (see Search Engine Watch). This falls in line roughly with the results of this poll, but not with the public perception that we “google” everything. The poll results are also surprising given the Google-centricity of the blog: Google won, but not by a lot.

So, why do you use the search engine you do? Convenience? Ease of use? Quality? Force of habit? Format?

Why not take a few minutes to try out some other search engines and think about what you like? Try a visual search like KartOO or check up the updated features on If you decide to stick with your old search engine, what makes it a better engine for you?