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John Wilkin writes:

Metasearch vs. Google Scholar

What the world needs now is not another metasearch engine. Mind you, having more and better and even free metasearch engines is a good thing, but there are already many metasearch engines, each with different strengths and weaknesses, and even some that are free and open source (e.g., see Oregon State's LibraryFind). Metasearch isn't an effective solution for the problem at hand.


Google Scholar (GS) is absolutely not a replacement for the vast array of resources we license for our users. Criticisms of Google Scholar abound. Perhaps most troubling to an academic audience, GS is secretive about its coverage: no information exists either inside GS or by any watchdog group analyzing the extent of its coverage in any area or for any publisher. Moreover, it will probably always be the case that some enterprises in our sphere fund the work of finding and indexing the literature of a discipline, online and offline, by charging for subscriptions, thus putting them in direct opposition to GS and keeping their indexes out of GS. (Consider, for example, the Association of Asian Studies with its Bibliography of Asian Studies or the Modern Language Association and the MLA Bibliography, each funding its bibliographic sleuthing by selling access to the resulting indexes. To give their information to GS is to destroy the same funding that makes it possible for them to collect the information.) And yet, as we learned in the recent article “Metalib and Google Scholar: a User Study,” undergraduates are more effective in finding needed information through Google Scholar than through our metasearch tools.[2]

If metasearch is an ineffective tool for comprehensive “discovery” and Google Scholar has its own shortcomings, the need and the opportunity in this space is not creating a more effective metasearch tool; rather, the challenge is to bring these two strategies together in a way that best serves the interests of an insatiable academic audience, whether undergraduate, graduate or faculty. ...

This is a rich and complicated essay. Please check it out. I can't do it justice here.


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A book in progress by

Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan

This blog, the result of a collaboration between myself and the Institute for the Future of the Book, is dedicated to exploring the process of writing a critical interpretation of the actions and intentions behind the cultural behemoth that is Google, Inc. The book will answer three key questions: What does the world look like through the lens of Google?; How is Google's ubiquity affecting the production and dissemination of knowledge?; and how has the corporation altered the rules and practices that govern other companies, institutions, and states? [more]

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» Visit my main blog: SIVACRACY.NET

» More about me


Like the Mind of God (22 posts)

All the World's Information (26 posts)

What If Big Ads Don't Work (10 posts)

Don't Be Evil (9 posts)

Is Google a Library? (43 posts)

Challenging Big Media (18 posts)

The Dossier (19 posts)

Global Google (3 posts)

Google Earth (3 posts)

A Public Utility? (19 posts)

About this Book (16 posts)

Other books by Siva:


Rewiring the Nation: The Place of Technology in American Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007)

The Anarchist in the Library (Basic Books, 2004)

Copyrights and copywrongs cover

Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001)


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