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HIST 700/ENVR 700 (Lekan): Tips and Tricks

Scholar Commons

Scholar Commons is the University of South Carolina's institutional document repository. Contents include articles, books, documents, technical reports, presentations, conference proceedings, creative activities, master's theses, open-access dissertations, and more.

Gray Literature

This guide will show you how to find lots of published research, but there's a whole world of valid, useful information that isn't published, or isn't published in a commercially available form. This is know as grey literature, and it can be hard to find. Examples of grey literature include:

  • Government reports
  • Policy statements 
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Conference proceedings
  • Research reports
  • Geological surveys
  • Newsletters and bulletins
  • Fact sheets

Here are places to look for gray literature:

  • Gray literature gateways like these:
    - SciTech Connect
    - US Army Corps of Engineers Official Publications
    - US Dept of Agriculture National Agricultural Library
  • Search the websites of corporations, institutions, or agencies that are produce the kinds of literature you're looking for
  • Try a site:gov search in Google. For example, if you are looking for government reports about Sesquicentennial State Park, go to Google and type Sesquicentennial State Park Report site:gov. This will instruct Google to search for only domain names ending in .gov and may help you find the type of information you're looking for.


Writing a Literature Review

Set Your Preferences in Google Scholar to Get More Full Text

To access the full-text to which the University Libraries subscribes once you are in Google Scholar set your library links.  In the fall of 2015, the library switched to a different ejournal manager.  If your library links show as USC Columbia eText, update it to FullText@USC Columba.

1. Click Settings

2. Click Library Links

3. type  University of South Carolina

4. Select University of South Carolina - Columbia-USC - FullText@USC Columbia

5. Click Save

Watch a brief video of the process

Advanced Searching in Google Scholar

Searching Google Scholar

You can use the Google search operators in Google Scholar, plus some other search techniques. 


     Searching with a title of an article? 

     Put it in quotes:  “How today's college students use Wikipedia for course-related research"


     author:  finds papers written by

      author:washington   returns papers written by people with the name Washington

      washington –author:washington     finds the word washington, but excludes papers written by people named Washington


Once you do a search you’ll have options to limit:

by time, including setting your own date range

sorting by relevance or by date

including or not including patents and citations in your search


Be on the lookout for links you may see below the snippet of the article or citation

Cited by     Learn what other sources in Google Scholar have cited it

Related articles       Google has its own algorithm for determining similar articles

Versions    Especially helpful if your initial result doesn’t link to the full-text.  Maybe another version will.

Web of Science     Learn what other sources from the Web of Science database (a library subscription) have cited it.

Cite     Shows the format for MLA, APA and Chicago styles.


To get to the Advanced search in Google Scholar,

after doing a search

click on the down arrow

on the right side.



Setting Alerts in Google Scholar

After you do a search, click on the link to "Create alert."  All you'll need is an email address.  You do not have to have a Gmail account.  You'll be notified when there are new results that match your search(es).