"Google vs. WoS"
Google Scholar – the pros and cons What you really SHOULD know about it……………. 1. What is Google Scholar? Google Scholar is a new free Web service that finds papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from broad areas of research. It searches a variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. It is in the beta testing phase of development. 2. What’s so good about it? It’s fast (leads to hundreds of relevant, scholarly articles within seconds), it’s free with no username/password issues It looks like regular Google with a simple interface A significant amount of the content is available in full-text – it’s always worth checking to see if an article you want can be found Searches the indexes created from the full text or part of the full text of the primary documents, not merely the bibliographic records, abstracts and the subject terms. Searching is as simple as searching on the main Google page. Multiple database search is the default approach, but you can also specify the publisher by using its URL in the site parameter eg tsunami site:ieee.org. It does allow the use of quotation marks to search phrases, and the ‘minus’ sign to eliminate specific terms. There is an Advanced Search feature Certain publishers have granted Google the ability to access material not available before. Google has agreements with some reputable publishers like Blackwell to index their articles 1 It has a ‘cited’ section allowing you to see how many times the item has been cited (could be useful when evaluating the source). The number given in the ‘cited by’ link is the number of cached documents that cite the linked document. You can click on this link to bring up a page of the cited references. The citations are used to some degree in determining the ranking of search results 3. What concerns are there about using it? Not all information contained in Google Scholar is necessarily ‘scholarly’ (in the traditional sense). The Google algorithm makes a calculated ‘guess’ at what it thinks is scholarly. Full disclosure of the publishers and sources worked with to create it are not provided – NO information about the publishers archives that Google is allowed to search is given, let alone specific journals and host sites. The content of search results varies widely, often random and incomplete The indexing of the collected files is limited to the first 100-120 Kbytes of the text (depending on file type). If the search term occurs just beyond Google’s limit the item would not be found. The indexed articles are a much smaller subset of scholarly articles than can be found in many other subscription databases eg Web of Science, GeoRef Eg. A search through google for tsunami in the title field limited to the site of the Nature Publishing Group gives just one record; through the native search engine there are 8 records, all relevant. It has been shown that Google Scholar only finds about 10-30% of the records which are available using sophisticated, but still intuitive native search engines. Comparing regular Google and Google scholar demonstrates the issue of how often the database is refreshed – a 2 Science Express article published online on June 16 was searched for via google scholar on July 5 – no results; on regular google the citation was available. No sign of it on google scholar until July 25. Search options are very limited – a simple keyword search approach on Google cannot match the sophisticated search options of subscription databases. The ability to focus your search is not easy. First names and initials are searchable when using ‘author’; but results are often erratic There is often more than one version of the paper available in the results; sometimes earlier (preprint) versions, sometimes published Chances are you won’t be able to read it even if you find something that looks to be of interest – full-text access is only available if we subscribe to it. Google Scholar won’t tell you this. It includes links to citations and abstracts on journal sites that request payment – in the meantime you could get them for free from the Library’s resources No information is available yet to tell how often the database is being refreshed with new material. Copyright issues have yet to be settled SUMMARY Be aware and be critical – don’t assume that the articles are ‘scholarly’; exercise judgment about the articles you use. Relying on any single source, even one that is as fast as Google Scholar is not recommended. Rigorous academic research requires thorough searching across databases, varying search strategies, including synonyms, alternate spellings, and using appropriate subject headings. Web of Knowledge (giving access to the Science Citation Index), for example, provides a much more 3 comprehensive, retrospective and timely form of access to scholarly literature. Our advice is only to use Google Scholar alongside controlled databases. Name of first author in incorrect. Correct name – is Rawls Libby Tilley & Sarah Humbert 4 Earth Sciences Library September 2005 5