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Google vs Science Direct vs Bibliographic Databases vs Laziness

:: Dana forwarded an interesting e-mail recently that noted the following:

Dr. John J. Regazzi, the Managing Director of Market Development at Elsevier gave the keynote address at the NFAIS annual meeting in February. Links to his text and slides are available at http://www.nfais.org/index.htm

I was astounded to find this tidbit in his text:

"In a survey for this lecture, librarians and scientists were asked to name the top scientific and medical search resources that they use or are aware of. The difference is startling. Librarians named Science Direct, ISI Web of Science, and Medline, while scientists named Google, Yahoo, and PubMed (librarians also named PubMed)."

Here are the numbers for librarians:
ScienceDirect 42%
ISI Web of Science 37%
Medline 31%
PubMed 11%

I'm assuming the numbers add up to more than 100% because multiple responses were possible. There was no mention of how this survey was conducted.

I read this, and felt the same way. I am not aware of any colleagues who were surveyed for Dr Regazzi's presentation, nor am I aware of any who would rank Science Direct as the top search resource in science or medicine (or engineering or agriculture, for that matter).

In the latest Sitelines entry, "Google - Loyalty or Laziness", Rita Vine discusses Chris Sherman's comments about a search engine loyalty survey. She cites Carol Tenopir's article in the 1 April 2004 issue of Library Journal, "Is Google The Competition?", which refers back to Dr Regazzi's report. Vine sides with John Battelle on the loyalty assertion:

I'm not sure I buy the whole search engine loyalty thing. I think folks aren't loyal, they're lazy. As Yoda might say, not until a compelling choice they have, switch will they.

I work closely with dozens of engineering professors and students. Many use Google as a quick reference tool, but beyond that, I'd be hard pressed to find faculty members who would tell me that they regularly use Google as their first choice when researching a topic. As a librarian, I would advise students and faculty to use one or more major bibliographic databases to research a topic first, rather than restrict a search to a full-text e-journal package, such as Science Direct.

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