March 22, 2006

UBC Professor: Google Scholar On Par With Science Citation Index For Performing Citation Counts

.: From an article in the March 2006 issue of University Affairs / Affaires universitaires, "Canada's magazine on higher education," titled Google Scholar service matches Thomson ISI citation index, by Léo Charbonneau. Excerpt:

The free Google Scholar service does as good a job as Thomson ISI’s science citation index for performing citation counts and could be used as a cheap substitute to the costly Thomson service, says a University of British Columbia professor. Thomson’s citation databases are accessible through the company’s Web of Science portal only by subscription, which can cost a university tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Daniel Pauly, director of the Fisheries Centre at UBC, and Konstantinos Stergiou, of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, compared the two methods using 114 papers from 11 disciplines published between 1925 and 2004. For papers published before 1990, the authors found that the citation counts were proportional. In other words, if Thomson ISI found that a particular paper was cited 10 times as often as another, Google Scholar found the same ratio. However, for these older papers, the actual citation counts with Google were about half that of Thomson.

Charbonneau notes that the results of the study by Pauly and Stergiou were published in a recent issue of the onine journal, Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics 2005:33-35. The "note" is titled, Equivalence of results from two citation analyses: Thomson's ISI Citation Index and Google's Scholar service. The previous link is to the .pdf file, which as far as I can tell, should be open access.

According to the article, Pauly disagrees with University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa LIS professor Péter Jacsó's assessment of Google Scholar in his article, As we may search – Comparison of major features of the Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar citation-based and citation-enhanced databases, (.pdf file, may require subscription) published in Current Science, v83 n9, 10 November 2005. Jacsó wrote two other assessments of Google Scholar for his column, Péter's Digital Reference Shelf: Google Scholar Beta (Dec 2004), and Google Scholar Redux (June 2005).

I have to confess, I have never made the time to compare these resources, along with Scopus. When do we have the time to do this? I am grateful that reports and studies such as the aforementioned ones come to our attention, but even finding time to read and digest them is difficult. I work with researchers from first-year to post-doc and faculty, and find that after an hour's in-depth one-on-one consulting with a post-graduate student or researcher, it is all they can do to absorb one or two dbs of critical interest to them.

So I wonder, am I not doing my job to the best of my abilities if I don't keep up with these types of analyses? We have Scopus and Web of Science, and we all have access to Google Scholar. How many of you are using more than one of these on a regular basis? At the same time, I *know* I need to become more familiar with Google Scholar...

August 2, 2005

Greg Notess on Scholarly Web Searching: Google Scholar and Scirus

:: Greg Notess, librarian at Montana State U and creator of Search Engine Showdown, reviews and compares Google Scholar and Scirus in his latest On The Net column in Online:

Google introduced a brand-new concept with Google Scholar []specialized search aimed at finding scholarly information on the Web. With an initial focus on research articles from publishers participating in the CrossRef project and several collections of online preprints and other major scholarly sites, Google established a new approach to a broad range of scholarly literature (although its original coverage was stronger in science and technology than in the social sciences). In true Google fashion, the new search tool not only displayed links to individual documents, it also included citation references extracted from other documents using special algorithms developed at Google.

Some librarians decried this poaching of our information space, while Google advocates foresaw Scholar as the first and only source for research information. We have seen this type of rhetoric before. Remember when Google launched Google Answers back in 2002? The ensuing hue and cry bemoaned how this would compete with library reference services. Google Answers continues as a fee service, but it is certainly not a major Google money-maker, nor has it caused the death of library and information services anywhere.

Is Google Scholar destined for a similar fate? Time will tell whether it becomes a major access tool and replaces some of the traditional indexing and abstracting services or ends up as yet another orphaned initiative. In the meantime, it offers certain benefits and uses, as do several other free Web-based scholarly search tools such as Scirus. Unfortunately, none are even close to comprehensive. Each tool covers one segment exclusively or in very different ways.

I am curious to know who is using either of these tools, and to what extent? I ask because I seldom use Google Scholar or Scirus, largely because I work in a library system that offers most of the key subject databases and e-publications needed by its users. I wonder if Google Scholar and Scirus are being used or promoted by librarians working in institutions without access to key dbs and e-resources required by their clientele.

June 9, 2005

SLA Session - Future of Search Engines (Google View)

:: I attended a session at SLA in Toronto called The Future of Search Engines. One of the speakers was Cathy Gordon, Director of Business Development for Google. After stating that her opinions were her own, and didn't reflect those of Google, she began with a mini infomercial (standard fare, and expected) about the infamous search engine, noting that users can now search in >100 languages, it is the #1 search engine in 17 of 20 countries (didn't say which 17 countries, or the names of the other 3), and that Google powers 70% of all Internet searches. Google doesn't create its own content, tries to knock down spam results, and does not accept payment for inclusion. Users may submit web pages to Google for indexing, and currently it indexes >8 billion pages, and >12,000 news sources.

She mentioned "Premium Content" (apparently a new or forthcoming feature in which Google will somehow get behind subscription firewalls to for-fee dbs), and noted that book search results from Google Print are not integrated into Google web searches, as the pages from the books are not ranked.

In discussing Google Scholar, she said it was created by an engineer looking for scholarly content. Some dbs and full-text scholarly journals are being indexed, along with theses, dissertations, books, technical reports, and other material. When asked about a source list of what is indexed in Google Scholar, she said she didn't know exactly why this still isn't being offered by Google. GS uses link resolvers to allow for access to articles on an IP-authenticated machine (where the institution subscribes to the publication in which the article is found).

As for the topic of the session itself, Gordon believes that users will continue to demand more control, while the search engine will become more personal and sophisticated but must remain simple to use. The depth, breadth and type of searchable content will continue to expand, and the challenge is to present this variety of information in a coherent and cohesive manner. Geographic and language barriers will continue to decrease, and desktop tethering will be eliminated - i.e., the need to have a desktop computer to search will no longer be the case as searching becomes ubiquitious. To this end, Google offers the option of personalizing your Google homepage, along with My Search History.

She summarized as follows: searching remains a primitive function, users must be at the centre of improvements, the increasing amounts of searchable information will require innovative solutions to manage its complexity, and searching must be accessible at any time, from any location, using any device.

February 17, 2005

Google Scholar "Preferences" - Is Our World About to Get Rocked?

:: This is flying around listservs and discussion groups. From a post by Andrew Pace on WEB4LIB this morning:

Anyone seen Google Scholar today? There's a new "Preferences" section. Now if you are lucky enough to have your institution listed, you will get a link to your resolver within your hitlist results. Interestingly, the firefox extension trumps this link, I can't really discern the logic of when the resolver link appears and when it doesn't. I've only been looking at this for 5 minutes, but I don't think I like this direction. Wouldn't it be better if Google simply tried to send back the openURL so that extensions and bookmarklets would work properly? I think they are using DOI and OCLC# to build the links to various resolvers. Are they going to offer every library's resolver here? There's an idea, Google as the authoritative list of link resolvers!
In our office, Geoff noted that "I think this is a rather large signpost, especially for Sirsi et al, that the world of the OPAC is about to get rocked."

December 12, 2004

American Chemical Society Files Complaint Against Google Re: Use of "Scholar"

:: Chemical & Engineering News reported on Friday that the American Chemical Society has filed a complaint in US District Court in D.C.:

The ACS complaint contends that Google's use of the word scholar infringes on ACSs SciFinder Scholar and Scholar trademarks and constitutes unfair competition. SciFinder Scholar, a desktop research tool designed for academic scientists, was launched six years ago. ACSs Chemical Abstracts Service estimates that about 1,000 colleges and universities have bought the service, which provides access to all of CASs databases, including information on journal and patent references, substance information, regulated chemicals, chemical reactions, and chemical supplier information.
A discussion began almost immediately on CHMINF-L: see entries in the December archive by topic, under "ACS Sues Google..."

December 8, 2004

Péter Jacsó on Google Scholar (Beta)

:: Thanks to George Porter, via Peter Suber's Open Access News, for bringing this following to my attention. Péter Jacsó has written an extensive and detailed review of Google Scholar Beta. Definitely worth a read.

November 30, 2004

Of Google Scholar, Firefox, and OpenURLs

:: The following is from an e-mail sent to WEB4LIB, about a new Firefox extension that adds OpenURL links to search results from Google Scholar. The extension was written by my colleague, Peter Binkley, working three floors above me.

As a proof-of-concept I've built a Firefox extension that adds OpenURL links to the results lists in Google Scholar. It can be downloaded here: The functionality is pretty basic but it shows what might be possible.

Ideally, Google will build this functionality directly into Google Scholar, and we'll be able to integrate Google Scholar fully with our local access systems. In the meantime, this extension is fun to play with. It is by no means perfect, but it is perhaps a taste of what we have to look forward to.

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November 25, 2004

Google Scholar - Commentary by Jay Bhatt

:: Jay Bhatt, writing on ELDNET-L, offers the following detailed analysis of Google Scholar. His comments are posted here with his permission, and are well worth the read:

There are (at least eight) areas that the present version of Google Scholar does not cover:
  1. It does not index online electronic books and handbooks such as those from ENGnetBASE, NEUROSCIENCEnetBASE, ENVIROnetBASE, INFOSECURITYnetBASE, MATERIALSnetBASE, and Knovel, etc. It becomes even more important to educate our students especially those working on Freshman and Senior Design Projects, to use electronic books and the books available in print when they need to develop sufficient background in their project areas before using Google Scholar. We want them not to carried away by Google Scholar so much that they ignore other important resources. Especially for design projects, scholarly interature is just a component of their research; not the only component.
  2. Conference papers indexed in Ei Village (Engineering Village) appear to be not yet available in Google Scholar. I did a search for 'Biomaterials', limiting to only conference articles in Engineering Village2. I found 507 articles in Engineering Village. I tried a few in Google Scholar but could not find any.
  3. We may not be able to download citations to Refworks to create your bibliography. Students will need to add them manually if they want to add them in Refworks. This will be time consuming.
  4. Advanced features such as searching within just Abstract rather than Full Text may not be available. Limiting search using advanced features avilable tends to increase relevancy of articles.
  5. Google Scholar does not provide what is being covered, what journals are indexed, what other databases are covered, so just relying on Google Scholar may not be helpful.
  6. Searching online codes (MAD CAD) is not available in Google Scholar. MAD CAD is very heavily used by our Senior Design students. "Subscription based MAD-CAD contains the building codes and knowledge based solutions and guidelines to meet the codes. MAD-CAD provides access to a comprehensive cross-referenced collection of building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire, maintenance codes from BOCA, SBCCI, ICBO, ICC, and NFPA; and state and local codes. This comprehensive set of codes in conjunction with the search engine and organizational tools provide an intelligent and efficient system for architectural, engineering and educational solutions.".
  7. Computer Science/IST - Books24x7, Safari, Lecture Notes in Computer Science - are important not yet available in Google Scholar. As the name implies ('Scholar'), they will not be available in future, too.
  8. One can not browse among different volumes/issues of a particular journal.

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