I am doing a pilot study for my research. When I search in google scholar, it gives me about 10 thousand results for the keywords that are anywhere in the article. I want to narrow my search down to abstract, title and keywords only but when I click on sort by date it only gives me articles from the last year only. Is there any option which I am missing so that I can refine my result to abstracts, keywords and titles from all previous years rather than only from the last year?

Any help would be appreciated.

1 Answer 1


First, you should realize that Google Scholar is not the same thing as a "free" equivalent of a commercial scholarly database (e.g. EBSCO or ProQuest). Although it's great for finding grey literature and relatively obscure topics (not to mention tracking citation counts), it has some serious limitations for general literature reviews. In particular, it does not permit you to do many of the focused searches that commercial scholarly databases. I suspect that this is for copyright reasons, rather than technical reasons--the journal publishers probably wouldn't permit Google to search their copyrighted articles in depth without paying for it.

What this means for your purposes is that, in general, you cannot do a title-abstract-keyword search on Google Scholar. The exception is that you can search for abstracts only, but only for articles added to Google Scholar in the last year. That's what you get when you click on "Sort by Date"--it's not obvious, but that means "Sort articles added in the last year by date". This is only useful to find what's new, but is useless for any general search on what exists in the literature.

The solution is to search in a commercial scholarly database (e.g. EBSCO or ProQuest). Your library pays them for the right to access them, they pay the journals, and so the journals authorize this kind of search.

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    It is very strange, is not it? Each of the search results, when sorted by default (by relevance) comes with its date. It is a trivial task to reorder them by date. I could do it quasi by hand, importing them in any kind of software. Why on earth would anybody forbid doing that in the scholar search itself?? Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 16:26
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    @მამუკაჯიბლაძე, no it is not strange. This is how I understand it (though I might be mistaken): journals and scholarly databases make a lot of money from indexing scholarly articles. Although they are willing to cooperate with Google Scholar to some extent so that their articles are more visible, they would never permit Google Scholar to become a free replacement to having to subscribe to their paying services. So, they only let Google use their data on the condition that Google Scholar's capabilities are limited. So, "why on earth"? It's all about money.
    – Tripartio
    Commented Jan 26, 2019 at 12:56

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