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Google Scholar
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Google Scholar debuted on Thursday. Here's the buzz, followed by my experience using it "to stand on the shoulders of giants."

Google Graduates to Vertical Search
Motley Fool
By Rich Duprey
November 19, 2004

Google Scholar is a free service that searches peer-reviewed papers, books, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature. It accesses information from universities, professional societies, and academic publishers, then orders the results based on the relevance to the query and even lists how many times that particularly reference has been cited. Users can then click on the citations for further research. Many of the search hits lead users to sites that require password access. While that means you might not be able to read the entire text of the documents (unless you have access), it does bring to the fore areas that were previously hidden to searchers.

Scholar was a project dreamed up during "20% time," that is, the time Google allows its employees to sit around dreaming up cool stuff. Other Google features created during such free-thinking hours include Froogle, Local Search, spell-checking, and "define" -- getting the definition of words simply by typing in "define" and the word you want the meaning of in the search box.
The world of online "scholarly" research is changing today as Google introduces Google Scholar. This specialized new interface -- which will NOT be linked from Google's main search page -- will allow users to search a treasure chest of "scholarly material."
Search Engine Watch:

"The goal is to allow and enable users to search over scholarly content," said Anurag Acharya, a Google engineer leading the project.

Much of this material has been added to Google over the past few months. However, the new service allows searchers to specifically search against just the academic material.

Google has worked with publishers to gain access to some material that wouldn't ordinarily be accessible to search spiders, because it is locked behind subscription barriers.

For example, in a search for search engines, the current fifth site listed is for a paper called "ProFusion: Intelligent fusion from multiple, distributed search engines." That paper is only available to those with password access to material within the Journal Of Universal Computer Science, which comes with a subscription.

Normally, such material would never get spidered by search engines such as Google, so the material would be "invisible" to web searchers. But Google's made arrangements with publishers to get into these password areas.

Test Drive

    Input: Brian Arthur (top of mind; I was reading him last night)
    Output: Many pages of abstracts, citations, and full-text articles. Sometimes, pre-publication submissions of research papers. Some password-protected dead ends; other cite "No abstract available." Complete citations on abstract pages are great; downloadable source material is so marked.

    Input: Tom Clancy (who is obviously not academic)
    Output: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, The Cardinal of the Kremlin, and Circulating T-cell response to Helicobacter pylori infection in chronic gastritis. Whoops. That last one is by another Clancy.

    Input: Stephen Downes
    Output: The economics of online learning; Kierkegaard, a Kiss, and Schumann's Fantasie; Agents and Norms in the New Economics of Science. Clearly, there are a lot of people named Stephen Downes. The Canadian researcher and blogger doesn't use his middle initial, so you must eyeball each entry to find the Stephen you are looking for.

    Input: Multiple Intelligences
    Output: Many, many links to Howard Gardner's books and articles, as well as derivative works by others. Here's a great feature: Click a book. The WorldCat service has a box on the book's page titled "Find this item in a library." I entered my zip code and found that JFK University and University of Santa Clara have the book I was checking. Another click pops me into their card catalogs: both universities list the book as CHECK SHELF.

Will I use this service? Only occasionally. That's because I'm fortunate to have a library card at a major research university within walking distance of my house. Cal has oodles of libraries. However, when I visit in person, I'll arrive better prepared. And I expect I'll spend significantly less time hunched over a green-screen monitor on a shelf in the bowels of the library.

Speaking of school, click this:


Blogger Downes said...

I was on the internet first. They can use their middle initials. ;)

7:51 AM  

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