Library partners with Google Scholar

by Marina Agapakis | 10/20/05 5:00am

The Dartmouth College Library recently announced a partnership with Google Scholar, one of the newest Google innovations in web research.

The new division of Google provides a simple way to simultaneously search various sources for scholarly literature. In addition to searching the open web, Google Scholar searches the databases of various academic publishers, professional societies, universities and other collectors of scholarly material.

Searches yield a variety of materials including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, websites of researchers, abstracts and articles.

Unlike other article indexes and databases available to Dartmouth students, Google Scholar is multidisciplinary.

"Google Scholar is a one-stop shop," Jane Quigley, a librarian at the Kresge Physical Sciences Library, said.

As with a standard Google web search, Google Scholar offers a simple, clean and easy-to-use interface. Results are organized by their relevance to the query as determined by the full text of the article, the author's publication history, the publications in which the article appeared and how often the piece was cited in other scholarly literature.

Despite these positive aspects of Google Scholar, there are numerous weaknesses to the new search engine.

"Google Scholar is not exactly an improvement on the many article indexes and databases that the library makes available to students now," Barbara DeFelice, head of Kresge Physical Sciences Library said. "But it is an additional tool with its own strengths and weaknesses."

Google Scholar is still under development. As a result, searchers often run into broken links and dead ends while perusing the Google Scholar database.

While other article indexes, including Academic Search Premier or Web of Science, have lists of the journals and other materials they include, it is unclear what specific sources Google Scholar covers. Other library article indexes give students access to a lot of very specialized, scholarly information that is not available from a Google Scholar search, DeFelice said.

In addition, Google Scholar offers much less flexibility in terms of search parameters and display options for results than other article indexes available through the College's library system.

"Google Scholar offers an easy search system, relevance ranking of results and the ability to search some full text, but it should be used in addition to article indexes, not as a substitute," DeFelice said.

Because Google Scholar accesses such a wide variety of databases, public users may be asked to pay for the full text of some materials, much of which the College's libraries have already purchased for the Dartmouth community to use.

The College, however, has arranged that Dartmouth users accessing Google Scholar will be provided a link called "Resources @ Dartmouth" immediately after the article title in the Google Scholar citation. This link offers access to materials in the many indexes and databases of the Dartmouth library catalog.

Dartmouth entered into a partnership with Google Scholar because of its ability to access a wide-range of sources, Quigley said.

By adding Google Scholar to the library system, Dartmouth is trying to facilitate connection back to the library's resources, which, DeFelice said, should not be forgotten just because Google Scholar may be easier to use.

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