Using a Hacked URL to Set Google Scholar Preferences

Does your library offer a link to Google Scholar on its website? Wouldn’t it be great if your users didn’t have to be told how to set up “Scholar Preferences” in Google Scholar in a way that connects them to your library’s link resolver? I just learned a nice trick that will allow your library to create a link to Google Scholar that will set preferences so that your link resolver is selected in the preferences for Google Scholar.

A comment on a post at Bibliographic Wilderness taught me how to find the unique identifier number that Google Scholar assigns to each institution that participates in Google Scholar’s “library links” program. Here’s my version of those instructions:

  1. Go into Google Scholar’s “Scholar Proferences” page
  2. If you haven’t already searched for your instituition’s link resolver in the “Library Links” portion of the page and then selected it, do so.
  3. View the page source for this preferences page.
  4. You’ll see a mess of code. Use the find on page feature to search for your institution’s name among all that code. In front of your institution’s name should be a long number (my library’s number was 19-digits long). Copy that number to your clipboard.
  5. Append that number to this URL:

That new URL you’ve made should now take you to Google Scholar AND set your preferences for your institution.

Here’s the identifier number for Baruch College, where I work:


Here’s the Google Scholar URL for my school:

Getting even fancier, I might want to prepend that URL with our proxy server prefix:

The final URL we’ll share with our users is now:

Thanks to Mita Williams at the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor, whose blog post about Google Scholar first alerted me to this trick.

The one thing that I still can’t solve, though, is how help those users from my college who are off campus and who go to Google Scholar by direct navigation instead of via my carefully constructed link. I don’t know how we can effectively communicate to those users that they need to set their Google Scholar preferences; a few users might hear or see our instructions, but a much larger number are unlikely to ever be aware that they can set up “library links” for their search results.



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