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Exploring Google Scholar: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Jon Haupt
Library Seminar
April 27, 2005

Summary

  • Google Scholar ("Schoogle") is a powerful and free search engine
  • Explore ways to use Google Scholar along with the Library’s more costly tools
  • Google Scholar is both agonizing and exciting, and it’s going to get better.

Google Scholar

  • What is it?
  • How do I use it?
  • What results can I get?
  • What do I do next?

  • http://scholar.google.com
    • Beta service
    • "Peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts, and technical reports"
    • Relationship between Google Scholar and "CrossRef Search Pilot" publishers (?)

Google Scholar

  • Initial observations:
    • You can get something for almost any search
    • This kind of full-text searching of articles across publishers is relatively rare
    • Google Scholar is generally best for Science & Technology, particularly Computer Science
    • Seems to be missing a lot; hard to know what is missing
    • Often a good place to start
    • Seldom a good place to finish

Google Scholar seems to be a good place to get something relevant for almost any search

What results can I get?

  • Library book
  • Citation
  • Abstract
  • Full text article
  • PDF
  • Web page
  • Broken link
  • etc.

Comparison

  • “children television violence” or “children and television and violence”
    • Google Scholar: “about 14,900”
    • Exp. Acad. ASAP (keyword): 13,925
    • Find It! (all Find It! collections): 3206
    • Scirus: 131,858! (1261 articles)
  • Among basic keyword searches, Google’s relevancy is a big plus!

Example no. 2: Books

Basic vs. Advanced search

Generally, Google Scholar is very successful at getting you to a particular document (provided that it is in the database!)

Comparison II

  • Science, Jansens, 2002
    • Expanded Academic ASAP was just as successful, but it took a few more steps to get there (keyword search, author name, limit to journal title, dates)
    • Find It! – 11 phantom results, took forever
    • Scirus – had to use Advanced Search, only found PubMed reference, not Science Magazine full text (not Elsevier)

Failures

  • Incompleteness and its sub-drawbacks are currently the main problem
    • No scope note
    • Inability to know what isn’t there
      • Google’s algorithm for “scholarly”: ???
      • Example: PubMed
        • Google Scholar gives “about 1,080,000” hits
      • What gets included when a journal is indexed?
        • Major articles?
        • Reviews?
        • Letters to the editor?

More incompleteness

  • “Cited By”: Rather bloated results, and obviously incomplete (only “cited by” other Google Scholar documents)
    • Results are bloated  mirror sites for articles
    • Web of Knowledge is more complete
      • But, Google Scholar does include book citations
  • Incompleteness of citations
    • Name of journal, year, domain for access
      • Volume and issue information, please?

Failures

  • Inconsistency/randomness of results
    • Will I find citations or full-text? Course web sites? Technical reports? Conference proceedings?
  • This is common with our other resources (see Expanded Academic ASAP, for example)

Full text

  • You will have a lot of seamless full text access if you are on campus
  • Realize that full text access comes at a price, and the library has paid for it!
  • Don’t pay for something the library already has! Try our e-journals search as well as the Library Catalog!

More drawbacks

  • Search functionality
  • No controlled vocabulary
  • No sorting
  • Limited search options, even with advanced search

Reminders

  • Google Scholar ("Schoogle") is a powerful and free search engine
  • Explore ways to use Google Scholar along with the Library’s more costly tools
  • Google Scholar is both agonizing and exciting, and it’s going to get better.

This page last modified December 19, 2005, at 01:53 PM.
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