Google Scholar

Google has yet another new feature – Google Scholar. It indexes scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research.

It debuted late last year. I think it’s a neat tool – but it has some pros and cons:

Pro – It filters out a ton of junk that you would normally find on Google. (The items in Google Scholar are also in big Google; but items in big Google are obviously not all in Google Scholar.)

Pro- There’s no advertising (aka sponsored links).

Pro – You can link from citations in many articles in Google directly to the cited resources, or at least to the abstract.

Pro – It appears as if you can search by keyword, author, publication, or date. I did a little testing and was impressed.

Con – Sometimes you cannot access the actual item listed in Google -only the abstract. You can often get full articles from your local library but it can take a few days. As I pointed out to students when I worked at an academic librarian – that doesn’t help if the assignment is due tomorrow.

Con – What Google Scholar defines as scholarly might not qualify for many of us as scholarly. Sometimes it matters; sometimes it doesn’t. They don’t have a list of what is included in their database or even list their criteria for inclusion.

I have to put in a plug for traditional scholarly “Googles” that you can find in your local library – and can often access remotely. Traditional journal indices will let you hone your search even more – such as searching by subject terms, which are determined by info specialists and can be very helpful.

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