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Publication Tracking : Searching for an Individual Author in Google Scholar

Overview

This page gives tips on how to search for an individual author in Google Scholar. Click here to access this information as a downloadable PDF.

Click here to access a PDF containing search templates and examples of searching for an individual author in Google Scholar.

Constructing Your Search

1. Construct a Broad Search Strategy

You can begin by using a basic keyword search using the broadest and least limiting search terms to ensure you do not inadvertently exclude relevant publications.

To do this, start with your most basic search of last name and first initial. So, for example, if you wanted to search for publications by a Dr. John E. Doe, your initial search would look like this:

 

“J Doe”

 

Make sure to include the quotation marks. With this search, you will be retrieving publications that mention the last name of Doe, and a first initial of J. As a result, you will retrieve most of the relevant results for the author, but many irrelevant results as well (e.g. authors whose names are John P. Doe, Jason Doe, or Janet Doe, etc., or publications that mention J Doe but are not authored by them).

 


2. Limit Your Search Using the Author Field

You can search within the author field by either using Google Scholar’s Advanced Search or using the author field tag. The Advanced Search is effective when you are looking for a single author (with no name variations). The author field tag is best for searching multiple author names (including name variations).


A. Advanced Search

Google Scholar has an Advanced Search option. This function is particularly useful if you are only looking for a single author name. To access this function, click the three bars on the upper left-hand side of the screen.

 

Screenshot of Google Scholar's results page. An arrow points to three bars in the upper left-hand corner of the page, with instructions to click the three bars.

 

This will cause a dropdown to appear. From there, click “Advanced Search.”

 

Screenshot of Google Scholar's additional options dropdown, with instructions to click "Advanced Search."

 

This will take you to Google Scholar’s Advanced Search. From here, you can use a variety of keyword options, and search by author, publication name, and/or date range. When searching for an author, make sure to put quotation marks around the author’s name.

 

Screenshot of Google Scholar's Advanced Search, with "J Doe" in the Articles Authored by search bar

 


B. Author Field Tag

An alternative way to search for an author is to use the author: field tag.

So, for example, if you wanted to search for John Doe, you would enter this into the Google Scholar search bar:

 

author:“J Doe”

 


3. Limit by Author’s Middle Initial

If you want to narrow your search, you can limit it by including the author's middle initial. However, you will want to correct for name ambiguity in your search, to ensure you will not miss relevant results. For example, the author, John E. Doe, may write their name in different ways in their publications (e.g. sometimes they may be referred to as J Doe, without a middle initial, or as J E Doe in a publication record). To correct for this, you will want to include name variations in your search and combine them using OR (or, in Google Scholar, the | symbol), just like in the strategy used below:

 

author:“JE Doe”|author:“J Doe”

 

This will retrieve publications that have the author listed as JE Doe or as J Doe. “|” works the same as a Boolean OR would, in that it will be retrieving publications with JE Doe in the author field, publications with J Doe in the author field, or publications with both JE Doe and J Doe in the author field.

 

 


4. Search by Author’s ORCID ID

ORCID IDs are like a social security number for researchers. If consistently included in publications and updated by the researcher, they can solve the issue of name ambiguity when searching for publications.

If the author you are searching for happens to have an ORCID ID, you can include it in your search. To do this, you will add the ORCID ID using |, just like you would add an alternative name for the author, like so:

 

author:“JE Doe”|author:“J Doe”|0000-0003-0799-4776

 


5. Limit by Affiliation Keyword

You can also limit your results by entering the author’s affiliation as a keyword. So, for example, if John Doe was from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you could enter the affiliation like so:

 

author:“JE Doe”|author:“J Doe” wisconsin

 

Google Scholar automatically inserts the Boolean AND between the words in your search. Just like if you were to use AND, this search would retrieve results that have either JE Doe and Wisconsin, or J Doe and Wisconsin in the publication.

 


6. Limit by Date

You can limit by date by using the date filters on the left-hand side of the page. If you would like to search by a specific date range, you can click “Custom Range.”

 

Screenshot of Google Scholar's results page, with a bracket indicating the date filters on the left-hand side of the page

 

How Do I Interpret These Searches?

Boolean Operators (AND and OR, represented by a space and | in Google Scholar)

OR ("|" in Google Scholar) is used to combine synonyms together. For example, a search of parent|guardian is going to retrieve publications that have the word parent, the word guardian, or both the words parent and guardian in them.

AND (a space in Google Scholar) is used to combine concepts together. For example, a search of parent guardian is going to retrieve publications that have BOTH the words parent and guardian in them. If a publication has the word parent, and not the word guardian, your search will not retrieve that publication.

 

Visualization of how Boolean works  In the example on the left, I’m using OR to combine two synonyms. This is helpful when your are searching for a concept and you want to combine all keywords related to that concept. parent OR guardian retrieves results that either contain the term parent or guardian, or both the terms parent and guardian  The example on the right shows what happens when you combine search terms using the Boolean operator AND. Using AND is most effective when combining different concepts. For example, parent AND guardian only retrieves results that contain BOTH the terms parent and guardian. So, in this example, if an article has the term parent but not the term guardian, your search will not retrieve the article. While using AND retrieves less results than using the Boolean Operator OR.


Field Tags

These tell Google Scholar where to search in the article for your terms.

  • author: searches the author field

Quotation Marks " "

These tell PubMed to search for two or more words as an intact phrase. So, for example, searching "young adult" is going to search for that intact phrase, whereas searching young adult, without quotation marks, will look for articles that have young and adult anywhere in the article, regardless of how apart those two words might be in the article (e.g. it could retrieve an article that says "the young polar bear was now an adult."