Thursday, November 18, 2004

Ooh, Google's done it again

I was just wishing the other day for a search engine that would turn up academic papers and theses and look what Google just unveiled: Google Scholar [via]. NYT article here [reg req'd].

Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

I just tried it out. It's pretty good. The only syntax that they talk about in the About section is the author: syntax, it would be nice if there were a few others like year of publication or journal. That would be particularly useful for people without access to an academic library (like me) - you would still be able to see what new articles are coming out and then try to scout around for them online. But if you know what you're looking for, you're pretty much guaranteed to find what you're looking for anyway (if it's online). This is how they rank results:

This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article's author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature.

Tried it with a few papers from Language and other papers that popped into my mind. Out of five of the articles in the latest volume from Language, I found three that had preprints online. The other two gave no useful results.

Example: Searching for "author:walker typology consonant agreement" gave me this as the first link:

[PDF] A typology of consonant agreement as correspondence
S Rose, R Walker - View as HTML - Cited by 10
Page 1. 1. A Typology of Consonant Agreement as Correspondence. Sharon Rose. ... 6. 2.
A typology of long-distance consonant agreement. 2.1 Cross-linguistic overview ...
Ms, University of California, San Diego and University of …, 2001 - - - -

You can see that several links will be given and clustered under the same paper - wonderful!

I tried a few other papers that I knew were online and Google returned all of them as first link. Great resource. I know I'll be using this a lot.

Update: this article from Resourceshelf is well worth a read:
+ In a nutshell, Google has built an algorithm that makes a calculated guess at to *what it thinks* is a scholarly content mined from the OPEN WEB, and then makes it accessible via the Google Scholar interface.
+ Precisely what makes something "scholarly" enough to be included in Google Scholar, Google will not say. And this is not an insignificant omission.


Post a Comment

<< Home