Science - November 19, 2011

Google provides service for scientists

Scientists can now also have their citation scores listed on Google. The listing is done automatically and is accessible to the public.

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The new service from this giant search engine is known as Google Scholar Citations. With it, scientists can easily place their academic studies side by side. Google also keeps tracks on how often the works are referred to and calculates the h-index, among others. This index is often used to gauge the impact of a scientist.
Overtake
This new service introduced by Google comes in the wake of similar services from Elsevier (Scopus) and Thomson Reuters (Web of Science). But Google Scholar can overtake both its rivals, says information specialist Wouter Gerritsma of the Forum library. 'Both these services are not accessible to the public and each account has to be manually maintained. Google Scholar does not have such setbacks. It will become the best of two breeds.'
Social sciences
In addition, Google searches not only in scientific journals, says Gerritsma, but also in books, reports and other publications from scientists. 'Social scientists will be especially pleased with this', thinks Gerritsma. In this corner of the academic world, a lot less is published in journals.
Ghost citations
This broader view of academic works means that the resulting h-index cannot be compared simply to those from Scopus and Web of Science. Gerritsma says Google has yet to prove that it is just as reliable as its rivals.  'You do come across ghost citations: citations which appear but do not exist in reality. But give Google time and it will overtake its rivals five years down the road.'
Google Scholar has been used since August by a restricted group of prominent academic bloggers. The service has been made available for everyone since Wednesday. The user group has to be built up from scratch. About ten Wageningen scientists are already active on it.

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