I love Google. They may know all sorts of frightening details about me, but I love the searching ability, which is unsurpassed. Google Scholar, especially is much better than University of Toronto’s Scholar’s Portal program. Google Scholar is faster, better searching (Google knows search), has a “cited by” link to discover responses, also how many people cited that paper to. But! You can’t look at the papers themselves on Google Scholar. You have to pay for subscriptions to those sites…except you don’t! Your school already pays for this stuff and you can use that. Click on Scholar Preferences, which is under the Advanced Search link next to the search box. There, you’ll find all sorts of options, including how to access the article using your library’s subscriptions! You can even search for print versions!
If you scroll to the bottom of the Scholar Preferences page, you’ll also find the ability to input citations into your choice of bibliography managers, such as Refman, BibTex and Refworks. PS, if you’re using Refworks for UofT, the Group Code is RWToronto. Very awesome!
If you’re still doing references by hand, please realize that man has discovered fire and the combustion engine. While searching on google scholar, I’ll open up a paper, realize I want to use it for my paper and hit Import into Refworks. I’ll enter my Group Code and Save Reference in the folder for the paper. Then, when I’m done collecting, I’ll hit Bibliography, and output a complete references list. It takes under two minutes to output the references list and less than 15 seconds for each paper I want to include in the paper. This tip alone could save you HOURS in writing your paper.
Your school or institution may have a different bibliography/reference manager than RefWorks. It’ll save you hours if you spend five minutes talking to a librarian or surfing the library site to find out which reference manager is used. There are also free programs available in case you can’t/don’t want to use your school’s program, or they don’t have one. Just google it. It’ll save you hours.
One thing to be careful of: Google does not filter articles by reputation of journal as much as your library will. Nor does it search journal databases like JStor or PsychInfo, so you have to keep an eye out for reputable, peer reviewed/scholarly journals. If in doubt, use your school library’s searching ability to find more info, or check Ulrich‘s for the journals academic status and standing. You can also check the “cited by” link for your article, so you can find people who’ve said something about your articles.
Edit: here’s some great tips on doing better searches in google: http://www.hackcollege.com/blog/2011/11/23/infographic-get-more-out-of-google.html