On Google Scholar



Data Obsessed - Confession time
I have a confession to make, one that should make me horribly ashamed as a librarian if some others in the field are to be believed...

...My favorite source for scholarly articles is Google Scholar....

...But mostly I love it because I can almost always find what I’m looking for.

Google Scholar @ UNC

UNC library adds Google Scholar to their homepage.
By searching Google Scholar from the Library's home page you will automatically have access, on and off campus, to many of those articles already paid for by the Library. When you are searching off-campus your search will be redirected to a page where you can enter your PID or other authentication information and the system will recognize your UNC affiliation.


Google Scholar vs Native Search -Updated

Peter Jacso has created a new "polysearch" engine that looks at Google Scholar vs Native Search.
Preliminary tests have shown that Google Scholar often retrieves far fewer unique items than the native search engines  of the publishers. On the positive side, Google Scholar links to citing references if the document was cited by journals indexed in Google Scholar, and provides the immensely useful citedness score of the documents. When Google Scholar  has more 'hits' for a query, they often turn out to be duplicates and triplicates (not always displayed adjacently) with a separate hit for the TOC entry, the abstract, the PDF file and (if available) the HTML file. Although their URLs are slightly different, they take you to the same spot in the archive. These are redundant and confusing, well illustrated when searching the IoP archive in the collection above.
(Link boosted from LISNews.)

UPDATE: Anurag "Mr. Google Scholar" Acharya sent along an email to note a caveat or two about the side by side analysis, and has graciously agreed to let me reprint his thoughts here:

Just saw the note re: the comparison to Native search. This particular implementation assumes that papers from a publisher are available on a specific web site (eg, arjournals.annualreviews.org for Annual Reviews and interscience.wiley.com for Wiley).  This is often not the case. Eg: for Annual Reviews, papers can be found on many hosts in the annualreviews.org domain, for Wiley, papers can be found on doi.wiley.com.  As a result, the comparisons can be quite misleading. The simplest way to see this for yourself is to select Annual Reviews (I mention this since it is the easiest) and do any query.  In the Google Scholar search box, replace site:arjournals.annualreviews.org by site:annualreviews.org. And then compare. Here are some queries that I tried:

"brownian motion"
"prion protein"

Pick your own.
On his advice, I did several test searches that reran the Scholar searches in Annual Reviews by lopping off the arjournals prefix and lo and behold, a lot more results start showing up. Still not match for match, but much better than the side-by-side analysis would have you believe. Fascinating.


ATLA vs. Google Scholar

NT Gateway Weblog has an interesting post about using Scholar to search for religion literature.
The shortcomings of ATLA are clear -- not bang up to date, not free etc. -- but it does win over Google Scholar, at least for the time being, even though the latter has certain quirky pluses. I wonder for how long? It's something we'll definitely be returning to.


Library Journal - Google Scholar Links with Libs.

More on the use of link resolvers to integrate universities/colleges and Scholar.
Since February, some 28 libraries, mainly at U.S. universities, have been testing institutional access in a pilot project, using the link resolver product each has purchased. If a user is working at a computer in the library, the access information comes up automatically; if not, the user must set specific preferences when using Google Scholar.


Scientific impact quantity and quality: Analysis of two sources of bibliographic data

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about what would happen if Google used some of their newly acquired cash reserves to purchase Thompson/ISI and their Web of Knowledge citation database and added those citations to Scholar.

I can't begin to fully understand this analysis from a professor at UC San Diego, but it seems that it might not even be necessary.

Until recently, Thompson/ISI has provided the only
source of large-scale “inverted” bibliographic data of the sort
required for impact analysis. In the end of 2004, Google intro-
duced a new service, GoogleScholar, making much of this same
data available. Here we analyze 203 publications, collectively
cited by more than 4000 other publications. We show surpris-
ingly good agreement between data citation counts provided by
the two services. Data quality across the systems is analyzed,
and potentially useful complementarities between are considered.
The additional robustness offered by multiple sources of such
data promises to increase the utility of these measurements as
open citation protocols and open access increase their impact on
electronic scientific publication practices.

Inside Higher Ed :: Google: Friend or Foe?

A pretty good wrap-up of one of the sessions held at ACRL. (Note how awesome web-based journalism is in the comments below the article. A commenter calls out one of the panelists and the panelists answers back. Rad.)


Some thoughts on ACRL - Long

Note: These are rough impressions and not well-formed, but if I don’t get them out now, I’ll never get around to it. They’re also as I heard them, as opposed to what was actually said. In no way were these the overriding themes of the conference, in fact most of these were decidedly in the minority and at best 50/50. Also, I should have hunted down some links for alot of what I say, but I'm to burned out form the conference to do so. Sorry. If you make it to the end, I’m sure it will seem like it wasn’t a worthwhile conference, while quite the opposite is true.

The Information Literacy pendulum is swinging.
For the first time since I’ve been listening to people talk about the topic of Information Literacy, I heard more negative than good. The backlash seems to be on two fronts.

The first I’ll call Information Literacy Fatigue Syndrome. Those suffering from ILFS often start sentences with “If I hear one more word about Information Literacy, I’ll scream/die/leave/quit….” I’m finally getting the sense that a larger proportion of the library population is beginning to take a position that I’ve longly held. Namely that Information Literacy is a last-ditch effort by librarians to retain some relevance in the face of continued marginalization. We’ve slapped a new, exciting name on something we’ve done for years and tried to get everyone to believe that the world will end without it. Unfortunately, not many people (especially students) are listening, or even care. (Though I should note a conversation about some states enacting Information Literacy competencies for state institutions.) And now, having realized that this sacred cow has no clothes, many librarians are beginning to say so.

The second, and more interesting, front is centered around the idea that Information Literacy is actually a dangerous thing. We’ve put all our eggs in the IL basket, and turned everything in the library into a teachable moment. Unfortunately, a number of studies have shown that users aren’t interested. They want convenience, we want to put them through hazing. (“I learned how to build exceptionally large search queries based on arcane controlled vocabularies and I’ll be damned if I’m going to show/build you an engine that does most of that stuff for you.”) And so in an All Info Lit All the Time model, when students turn up at the desk not being able to locate the books, we call several meetings about ways to infuse LC Classification into our classes and paper the campus about an upcoming emergency book-finding workshop (that no one attends), instead of heading to the stacks to see if the signs make any sense.

Our focus on teaching is blinding us to other, more convenient, solutions for patron woes.

Reference (as we know it) is dead.
Faced with increased demands for staff time for tertiary projects and decreasing numbers of reference questions, several schools have moved to the Brandeis model, or something like it. They've abandend the desk for good. What are those librarians doing with their newfound freedom? Creating second generation web-based subject guides and promoting individual research consultations, for one.

“The war is over. Google won.”
That’s an exact quote from a speaker on one of the more popular panel discussions. Faced with the dangerous jungle of indexes and databases that we present to patrons is it any wonder that they’ve latched on to sources that are “good enough”? One box, many results, most of them relevant. Works for me. But not everyone of course. This one here is a 50/50 issue. Half the room wishing our vendors would create more Google-like interfaces (and embrace some standards so that we might create one comprehensive box) and the other half (a fairly self-important bunch in my opinion) that seem to be evangelizing search. These are the fighting against marginalization folks. The ones who say that learning how to search is of utmost importance, when in reality (at least in the minds of students and faculty) the utmost importance is what you do after the search (analyze and synthesize).

Again, studies show that most users have no desire to learn about Booleans and controlled vocabularies, they want relevant articles and they want them now. (Anyone who has stood in front of a bunch of 18 year olds and showed them how to jump through the hoops of determining whether they have access to an article or not can tell you all about that.) Yet here we stand from on high extolling the virtues of truncation, when all we really need to do is gather together to send an ultimatum to vendors – add automatic stemming or we’re never buying another product from you. Ever.

Would it be great if every undergraduate could build a kick ass nested search? You bet. Is it imperative? Not even close.

Some notes on the conference itself
Faculty status for librarians makes for an incredibly over-bloated and often uninteresting conference. I’ve noticed this at nearly every conference I’ve attended. The publish or perish crowd will write and present about everything and anything. In great detail. I’d like to see the program for a non-faculty status conference. I reckon it’d be lean and mean.

Given the number of issues concerning academic libraries today, I’d be willing to bet that you and I could come up with a list of oh say, about 2000 topics that would have been more appropriate for a keynote luncheon than “Mystery Writers”. What were they thinking?

50 poster sessions plus 50 square feet of exhibit space plus thousands of attendees equals something resembling a veal fattening pen. Next time, how about we ask a few vendors (gasp!) to stay home so that we can actually have some room to see what our colleagues have to say?

No live network connections at the podiums? What? One mic to share amongst four presenters? What?


Serials Librarian: Key Issues - Google Scholar

OGS friend Brad Spry writes in to say that he's been published. Congrats! (The article is fab by the way.)



Another Google Scholar Blog.


I'll be at ACRL starting Thursday. Drop me a line if you want to chill.


Google Academic

Two years ago Brad Spry tried to punk the library world with information regarding something called Google Academic. Scarily prescient, that. (Note that the entry below that one jokes about Google buying Blogger...)