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Google Scholar adds scholarly dimension to Internet searches

Published: Sunday, October 2, 2005

Updated: Friday, December 26, 2008 15:12

Google--an Internet destination so huge it has become a common verb in the English language (as in "Google it").

It can also be a librarian's worst nightmare.

The Internet search engine has made even obscure knowledge easily accessible from the comfort of one's own home, making it virtually unnecessary for students to venture out to the library.

Citing "lack of authority" or students tendency not to question what they read online, professors are often hesitant to encourage students to use Google for research purposes. But that all may be changing soon.

"The Google Scholar (or "Schoogle") is a new search engine that has some advantages as well as some disadvantages," said Brian Sacolic, University Librarian.

Schoogle allows anyone to search a database of scholarly journals and articles and find out if the full text is available online or in local libraries. Gone are the days of sorting through files on EBSCOhost. Now students can simply "schoogle it."

But, Sacolic warned, "One-stop shopping isn't helpful when you have specialized needs." This is just one of the disadvantages of Google Scholar.

According to the Google Scholar website, http://scholar.google.com, "Google Scholar can boost the worldwide visibility and accessibility of your content."

However, Sacolic argues that it is not a perfect program. "Coverage appears to be strongest in sciences and technology, and weakest in the humanities," said Sacolic.

But the Google Scholar website claims that one can "find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web."

Sacolic added, "unless an academic library has linked its resources to Schoogle (Farley Library has not yet), users often follow links to publishers' web sites, where access requires a subscriber's login or a purchase fee ($30-45).

Sacolic also notes that students at Wilkes are already paying for these services and "by sidestepping to Schoogle, students will be wasting their tuition dollars."

While Schoogle has some pros and cons, it is important to keep in mind that it is only available in a beta version. This means that the Google team is still trying to work out some of the bugs.

While students may be eager to use Schoogle, Sacolic said, "It is an okay place to start, but you could miss the best resources available in the library by using only Schoogle."

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