Evaluating Google Scholar

“Scholarish: Google Scholar and its Value to the Sciences”
Jerry Grey & Others
Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2012

When it comes to searching online, Google dominates like no other. So when Google Scholar came along in 2004, many students and researchers flocked to it because of its ease of use and seemingly unlimited access to great information.  That’s not to say there aren’t detractors, specifically librarians and specialty databases serving scholarly users.

The article is an excellent assessment of the good, bad and sometimes ugly truth of using Google Scholar.  Problems of the service’s transparency and Google’s attitude about disclosure (“hey, it is a free service”) are unsettling when you realize there’s no quality control for determining what items are truly scholarly and what’s not. Sorting and ranking result items are also a problem with the service.

I use Google Scholar when I want to uncover open access or gray literature.  Remember the key to using Google Scholar is the same for any search tool – know what it does best and apply the right tool for the right job.

About Benjamin Toon

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