December 8, 2004

Péter Jacsó on Google Scholar

Check here for Jacsó's very detailed (and highly critical) review of Google Scholar. His main points are:

Google, Inc. has the intellectual and financial resources (and the largest group of cheerleaders) to create a superb resource discovery tool of scholarly publications. It needs to:

  • exploit the highly structured and tagged Web pages with rich metadata readily available in the digital archives of most of the scholarly publishers
  • create field-specific indexes for many distinct data elements
  • offer an advanced menu with pull-down menus for limiting the search by publisher, journal, document type, publication year, etc.
  • consolidate cited references through the ever increasing DOI registry
  • collect information of all the relevant materials from the publishers' archive
  • develop utilities that enable libraries to launch a known-item federated search in the full-text aggregators' databases licensed by the library in order to check if any have the document from a journal that is not licensed digitally from the publisher.

All valid points, and I hope the fine folk at Google are paying attention to all the free R&D the library community is contributing to their cause. On the other hand, they're probably wishing they were a little less Beta and a bit more Alpha in terms of their content, interface and help files. I find it interesting that there's so much negative commentary, with an almost mean-spirited glee in the product's obvious short comings. It's not perfect, there are glaring shortcomings that will have to be fixed before it can compete with other, more polished, services. But, on the other hand, it is only Beta. The potential is enormous and I think we need to be realistic about what our patrons want to use. They want one search fits all with instant access to free full text. Google Scholar is going to be part of that mix. Services that can't add enough value to their data will find it hard to justify charging the big bucks to libraries and other clients. Publishers that are slow to collaborate with Google will find that they're journals aren't used as much. Is there a tremendous amount if information in the huge datafiles built lovingly over the decades by organizations like Biosis and INSPEC (to name two at random)? No question. That needs to be preserved. We should be especially concerned about the indexing of publications like conferences, defunct journals and mountains of grey literature. But, we also need to recognize that it won't be librarians that will spell the success or failure of Google Scholar. It will be our patrons: faculty, staff, students and the general public. (via OAN.)

1 comment:

Kimberley said...

you are my hero. I loved discovering this site. Librarians rock. Especially technical ones.