Category Archives: google_scholar

google scholar

Google announced a new change to Google Scholar to improve the results of a search. The results can now be ordered by a confluence of citations, date of publication, and keyword relevance, instead of just the latter. From the Official Google Blog:

It’s not just a plain sort by date, but rather we try to rank recent papers the way researchers do, by looking at the prominence of the author’s and journal’s previous papers, how many citations it already has, when it was written, and so on. Look for the new link on the upper right for “Recent articles” — or switch to “All articles” for the full list.

Another feature, which I wasn’t aware of, is the “group of X”, located just at the end of the line. It points to papers that are very similar in topic. Researchers can use this feature to delve deeper into a topic, as opposed to skipping across the surface of a topic. This reflects the deep user-centered thinking that went into the design of the results, which is broken down in more detail here.
Though many professors lament the use of Google as students first and last research resource, the continual improvements of Google Scholar and the Google Book project (when combined with access rights afforded by a university library) provide an increasingly potent research environment. Google Scholar, by displaying the citation count, provides a significant piece of secondary data that improves decision making dramatically compared to unguided topic searches in the library. By selecting uncredited quotations and searching for them in Google Book project, students can get information on the primary text, read a little of the additional context, and decide whether or not to procure the book from the library. I feel like I’m overselling Google, but my real point has nothing to do with any specific corporation. The real point is: in the future, all the value is in the network.

books behind bars – the Google library project

How useful will this service be for in-depth research when copyrighted books (which will account for a huge percentage of searchable texts) cannot be fully accessed? In such cases, a person will be able to view only a selection of pages (depending on agreements with publishers), and will find themselves bombarded with a variety of retail options. On a positive note, the search will be able to refer the user to any local libraries where the desired book is available, but still, the focus here remains squarely on digital texts as simply a means of getting to print texts.
Absent a major paradigm shift with regard to the accessibility and inherent virtue of electronic texts, this ambitious project will never achieve its full potential. For someone searching outside the public domain, the Google library project may amount to nothing more than a guided tour through a prison of incarcerated texts. I’ve found this to be true so far with Google Scholar – it turned up a lot of interesting stuff, but much of it was password protected or required purchase.
article in Filter: Google — 21st Century Dewey Decimal System (