Google Scholar: Don’t believe the hype?

by Hans on 2005/03/25

When I heard about Google Scholar a few months back, I was initially excited at the prospect of being able to search academic/research references quickly, with the power and ease of using Google. Here’s the description from Google:

“Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

Just as with Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders your search results by how relevant they are to your query, so the most useful references should appear at the top of the page. This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article’s author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature. Google Scholar also automatically analyzes and extracts citations and presents them as separate results, even if the documents they refer to are not online. This means your search results may include citations of older works and seminal articles that appear only in books or other offline publications.”

Unfortunately, my first experiences using the service left me a bit dissatisfied because of the poor results and relatively unsophisticated presentation of the results. Sure, it’s great to get a huge list of citations, but not being able to “click” and retrieve the articles is a bit annoying. Based on these initial “tests”, I returned to using the electronic indices like Medline, EMBASE, LISA/ISA, CINAHL, ERIC, and so on.

I came across a commentary from Banks on Biomedical Digital Libraries titled “The excitement of Google Scholar, the worry of Google Print“. His comments seemed to validate my initial thoughts – it’s a great idea, but still needs work. I’m sure that in time, Google Scholar may be an excellent tool, but I think I’ll stick with some of the features available in Medline or ISI Web of Science.

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