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I have been talking to a few people in the academy how and why they use Google Scholar.

Anybody unaffiliated with academia have experience with the service? Does it serve you well? Have you found anything useful? How often to you use it? What sorts of searches send you to Google Scholar?

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Comments (5)

Karen Coyle on February 22, 2008 11:34 AM:

My main experience in using Google Scholar (which I now do very infrequently) is that I find interesting citations for articles for which I do not have access. I WAS in academia and had full access to the university's subscribed databases. The moment I left I lost that access. We have this myth of information equality, but if you are outside of academe your access to research materials is greatly limited. If this is my experience sitting within a mile of a major university, what must information access be for those in developing countries? This is why open access is so very important.

I don't use it that often, but it has proven very useful to me when I'm looking for articles outside my main academic field. I'm a law librarian, but one time a student was looking for articles from archaeological or related journals. I wasn't sure what type of field-specific database would have articles from those types of journals (social science? history?), and my usual fallback, Infotrac, wasn't returning many useful results, but Google Scholar pointed out a very promising article almost directly on point.

Sorry. Misread "unaffiliated" as "affiliated". I blame Monday morning.

Karen's first sentence exactly captures my experience. I work in the nonprofit field. At least a half-dozen times per week, when I am writing a report, proposal, op-ed, or other document, I want to be able to draw on research data. I start with Google, then sometimes move on to Google Scholar. At least 85% of the time, the interesting links I find on GS are unavailable to me. It's extremely frustrating.

Depending on the journal, I do a quick regular-Google search to see if the article has been reprinted somewhere else. If I'm really desperate for the paper, I e-mail the author and throw myself on his/her mercy. (Occasionally the paper is already on the author's personal website, but this rarely happens.) But most of the time I just give up on finding it.

Dynamic Librarian on March 3, 2008 5:32 PM:

I'm at a community college, and use this infrequently for the reasons already mentioned. Namely it does not result in full text anything, unless you want to pay for it.
I use a mix of our subscription resources and Worldcat, and use Google Scholar little to none.

Hope that helps.

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