From: Timothy Jennings (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Nov 25 2004 - 00:12:16 MST
Just thought I'd post a copy of this article for any that might not be
aware of this new research tool:
Big News: "Google Scholar" is Born
By Shirl Kennedy and Gary Price
The world of online "scholarly" research is changing today as Google
introduces Google Scholar. This specialized new interface -- which
will NOT be linked from Google's main search page -- will allow users
to search a treasure chest of "scholarly material."
As you've read here many times, Google is brilliant (that is,
ingenious at marketing and trying new things), and this is yet another
example of their savvy. This is something that some other large web
engine(s) could have done years ago to help separate themselves from
other players and also provide a useful service. No one did it. Now,
others will likely play catch-up with Google.
Basically, users of Google Scholar can, via a single search location,
access content from "scholarly" materials found on the OPEN WEB that
they've found in the Google crawl of the web.
Some basic facts:
+ In a nutshell, Google has built an algorithm that makes a
calculated guess at to *what it thinks* is a scholarly content mined
from the OPEN WEB, and then makes it accessible via the Google Scholar
+ Precisely what makes something "scholarly" enough to be included
in Google Scholar, Google will not say. And this is not an
insignificant omission. Librarians, especially academic librarians,
are *always* being asked to provide "scholarly" material, even if
customers aren't quite sure what this means. Their instructor told
them they needed articles from "scholarly journals," so this is
precisely what they ask for at the library. As librarians, we may try
to educate them about how "refereed publications" work, but let's face
it. What most of these folks really want is to quickly download an
appropriate article and beat feet out of the library.
And if they think they can get what they need from Google, the odds
are slim that they will bother with library resources at all.
College students AND professors might not know that library databases
exist, but they sure know Google.
The database vendors don't always make it easy for us, either. For
example, when searching Gale databases such as InfoTrac OneFile or
Expanded Academic ASAP, you see a check box that you can fill in if
you want to restrict your search to "refereed publications." How many
of our customers know what a "refereed publication" is? Does any
instructor ever ask his or her students to find articles from
"refereed publications"? What's up with this?
+ Material accessible via Google Scholar can also be in the main
+ Google Scholar results pages *will not contain advertising* -- at
least for now.
+ Some examples of material from major publishers whose material
you'll find (we know Google has been working with many)? Google will
not provide us with a complete list, but look for content from ACM,
IEEE, and yes, Open Worldcat material from OCLC. We also don't know
precisely what is and is not available, date ranges, etc.
* In some cases Google will be crawling and searching the full text of
an article but users will either have to have a subscription to the
content or pay for access to an individual articles.
+ VERY COOL! For many citations, you'll find a direct link to other
articles in the Google Scholar database that cite the article you've
selected. Yes, Google Scholar is a citation database too! This reminds
me of two specialized databases that focus on specific types of
scholarly content accessible on the open web that have been online for
many years and remain EXCELLENT tools.
1) CiteSeer (focuses on computer science material, info tech content)
2) SmealSearch (focuses on business material)
+ Some material, let's say from Open Worldcat, isn't always
scholarly in the way many people think of it.
++ Here are many John Grishman books.
++ Although we're honored, we don't consider this blog to be
a "scholarly" resource.
++ Academic librarians will be sad to learn that it's impossible to
limit to only "peer-reviwed" material.
+ How big is the Google Scholar database? Google isn't saying.
As Google makes this announcement and word spreads about a "scholarly
search tool" -- ESPECIALLY in the academic community -- we think the
use of specialty databases (the ones university libraries offer and
spend $$$ for) will drop. It's worth watching to see if people begin
paying for material located via Google Scholar that they can get
*free* from a specialty database they may not know is available via
their public or academic library.
Might this be a golden opportunity for the library community to tell
people -- look, we have access to this stuff and MUCH MUCH MORE? We
have better ways to search it, and you might not even have to pay for
it? Well, yeah...but if what we've seen in the past is any indication,
this is not going to happen. Maybe this time it will be different.
Bottom line: It's very difficult to compete with the Google marketing
machine. In the meantime, we'll be extremely interested in the
response to Google Scholar from fee-based database publishers. Some
might ask, are specialized database tools still necessary? Info pros
know they are but we sure haven't done a good job of explaining why.
It will also be interesting to see if *any* of the press/chatter about
Google Scholar makes even a small mention of specialized subscription
databases, free access to these via libraries, and the fact that what
Google is offering is merely the tip of the "scholarly" info iceberg.
Is all of this yet another nail in the coffin for library resources
and maybe librarians? Too early to tell, of course. However, we have
to ask yet again, why wasn't the library community developing this
kind of tool in 1999 and 2000? Kudos to Google for doing so.
When big announcements come from Google and web engines, we often get
nervous and...sometimes upset with our profession. Not this time,
however. It's just not worth it. This is BIG news and something that
should have been around for years. It's going to be interesting what
transpires moving forward.
Finally, specialized databases are still valuable for many types of
seaching, including searching for "scholarly material."
Why? A few examples:
+ Limit to material published by date
+ Ability to view more than 1000 results. The Google cutoff of 1000
results is still in place with Google Scholar.
+ Searching using a controlled vocabulary/subject searching Ability to
+ limit by publisher affiliation You can limit by author with author:
+ but you can only use a last
First names and initials are not searchable when using author:
+ Proximity operators
+ Gobs and gobs of content, Google Scholar still doesn't have it all
Example: While you're find John Grisham books, you will NOT find
material (both current and archived) from MANY newspapers, trade
publications, and general interest periodicals.
+ I'm sure you can add many more examples of what's NOT there
Again, it's one thing for the info pro to understand all of this, it's
something else for the typical searcher. Stay tuned, this is going to
See Also: Google Plans New Service for Scientists and Scholars From
the article, "While the great majority of recent scholarly papers and
periodicals are indexed on the Web, many have not been easily
accessible to the public." This is again an example of not
understanding that libraries both public, private, and, academic have
offered access to databases with this content for many years and that
they can be accessed without having to visit the library building.
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