Google Scholar (GS) is a freely-accessible Web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. Released in beta in November 2004, the GS index includes most peer-reviewed online journals of the world's largest scientific publishers. It is similar in function to the freely available Scirus from Elsevier, CiteSeer, and getCITED. It is also similar to the subscription-based tools, Elsevier's Scopus and Thomson ISI's Web of Science. GS nonetheless claims to cover more websites, journal sources and languages. Its advertising slogan — "Stand on the shoulders of giants" (paraphrasing a quotation from Isaac Newton) — is a nod to the scholars who have contributed to their fields over the centuries, providing the foundation for new intellectual achievements.
In terms of features, GS allows users to search for digital or physical copies of articles, whether they be online or in libraries.
Using its "group of" feature, it shows the various available links to the journal article. In the 2005 version, this feature provided a link both to subscription-access versions of the article and to free full text versions of articles; for most of 2006, it provided links to only the official versions. As of December 2006, it provides access to both published versions and on major open access repositories, but does still not cover individual university pages; access to such self-archived non-subscription versions is now provided by a link to Google, where one can find such open access articles.)
Through its "cited by" feature, GS provides access to abstracts of articles that have cited the article being viewed (see ). It is this feature in particular that provides the citation indexing previously only found in Scopus and Web of Knowledge. Through its "Related articles" feature, GS presents a list of closely related articles, ranked primarily by how similar these articles are to the original result, but also taking into account the relevance of each paper.
In 2006, in response to release of Microsoft's Windows Live Academic Search, a potential competitor for GS, a citation importing feature was implemented using bibliography managers (such as RefWorks, RefMan, EndNote, and BibTeX). Similar features are also part of other search engines, such as CiteSeer and Scirus.
In 2007, Acharya announced that Google Scholar had started a program to digitize and host journal articles in agreement with their publishers; an effort separate from Google Book Search, whose scans of older journals do not include the metadata required for identifying specific articles in specific issues.
Some searchers consider GS of comparable quality and utility to commercial databases, even though its user-interface (UI) is still in beta. The reviews recognize that its "cited by" feature in particular poses serious competition to Scopus and ISI Web of Knowledge, although it generally returns fewer results than subscription services. Many search experts suggest that its functionality is severely hampered by poor database design. For example, when searching articles based on publication dates, GS results, like Google results, are unreliable, even inaccurate. The number of articles found in some searches, for example, increases when limiting to a range of years (e.g. 2000-2006) instead of decreasing. Some librarian critics have said that GS's counterintuitive and illogical presentation of results hinders its usefulness in academia.
A significant problem with GS is the secrecy about its coverage. Some publishers do not allow it to crawl their journals. Elsevier journals were not included before mid-2007, when Elsevier began to make most of its ScienceDirect content available to Google Scholar and Google's web search. As of February 2008 the absentees still include the most recent years of the American Chemical Society journals. GS refuses to publish a list of scientific journals crawled, and the frequency of its updates is unknown. It is therefore impossible to know how current and/or exhaustive searches are in GS. Nonetheless, it allows easy access to published articles without the difficulties that are encountered in some of the most expensive commercial databases.
- Google Scholar Library Links
- Official Google Blog: Exploring the scholarly neighborhood
- Hughes, Tracey (December 2006) "An interview with Anurag Acharya, Google Scholar lead engineer" Google Librarian Central
- Assisi, Francis C. (3 January 2005) "Anurag Acharya Helped Google’s Scholarly Leap" INDOlink
- Barbara Quint : Changes at Google Scholar: A Conversation With Anurag Acharya Information Today, August 27, 2007
- Bauer, Kathleen, Bakkalbasi, Nisa (September 2005) "An Examination of Citation Counts in a New Scholarly Communication Environment" D-Lib Magazine, Volume 11, No. 9
- Peter Brantley: Science Direct-ly into Google O'Reilly Radar, 3 July 2007
- Academic databases and search engines
- Citation index
- Institute for Scientific Information's Web of Science
- Libra (Academic Search)
- Live Search Academic
- Google Scholar website
- Interview with Google Scholar lead engineer/creator from December 2006
- Google Scholar: The New Generation of Citation Indexes. Libri 55(4): 170-180.
- Google Scholar Versus Metasearch Systems (March, 2006).
- Butler, Declan (2004). "Science searches shift up a gear as Google starts Scholar engine". Nature. 432: 423. doi:10.1038/432423a. Unknown parameter
- Giles, Jim (2005). "Science in the web age: Start your engines". Nature. 438: 554–555. doi:10.1038/438554a. Unknown parameter
- Critical review by Peter Jacso, librarian, at his digital reference shelf. (Nov., 2004)
- AutoScholar, an automated interface to Google Scholar for grabbing papers written in perl.