There has started a great buzz in my group today with Google Scholar.  I am
including a copy of the email I sent around with my response.  I was hoping
to get feedback from the group.  I have to admit I am SO EXCITED that these
conversations are happening but again I will have to write a letter  LOL  (I
feel like Abe Simpson. Oh god I have just seen a vision of my future!)
I am going to write this in conjunction with the other article on how Google
is completely superior to that old fuddy duddy Medline.
My overall concern again is the "it's all on the Internet" and people doing
their own searches without understanding all the ramifications. I feel like
a broken record.

(my email)
Wow!  So glad to have a "library type" discussion with non librarians!!!

I have been looking at this Scholar and overall am quite interested.  I
would say there are many issues however one should think about.

There is great interest and need to get into the "deep" or "invisible" web.
There is a need to capture the "grey literature" as well as organized and
published content.  One needs to be aware of what exactly is being searched
and how.  There is not a mention that I could find of what exactly was being
crawled.  Of course one can't see how the search was constructed so there is
no way to verify what was searched, what years, what databases, were key
words or controlled vocabulary terms employed, what publication limits.   I
can't verify in my mind the parameters I know that constitute a good search
were actually used in the search.  I could not assure myself or anyone else
that I honestly covered everything.

In looking at your searches, what were you looking for?  Were you looking to
answer a specific clinical question?  Did you want a general review?  Did
want to see how often articles were cited?  Did you want to know latest
treatments?  Without knowing the purpose of the search, it is hard to
quantify the accuracy and relevancy of your results.

Beyond those initial questions, what about access to the material?  If you
or your institution does not have an agreement with full-text you aren't
much better off than searching MedLine or any other free database.  The
advantage of searching Medline or other paid databases is that the
information can be linked seamlessly and make it easier.  As you can see
from the comments included, this is not a trivial matter.

There is not an open disclosure of the agreements between Google and what
providers they are using or partnering with.  I understand that there are
links between OCLC (a huge library service) and Google. Not all sources may
be listed with OCLC cooperatives.  OCLC is huge but even though they utilize
librarians, they are a corporate entity.  If there is money changing hands,
it affects results.  Nothing is completely objective and what is needed in
an information provision situation is to provide complete objectivity as
much as possible.

Here are a couple of links that actually say things probably better than me

Below are synoptic comments from the medical librarian listserv I subscribe
to.  Names have been removed to protect the innocent.

"I have been vainly searching for information on the bilateral symmetry of
the human brain as to degenerative disease artifacts (like Hirano bodies or
neurofibrillary tangles) (and thanks to Grace Gmeindl and her new Ph.D. son
for the book suggestion).

I just tried the new Google Scholar search engine and found a perfect
abstract from _Archives of Neurology_ on the JAMA site.  I had already
looked at and discounted the citation in PubMed, but the citation (including
authors and abstract contents) are totally different on the JAMA site.

I had already done a search in Google (and Clusty a great new search engine
like the old Northern Light) and found nothing useful (having given up after
looking at over 10 pages of links).  I'm sure the JAMA link was in there
some where, but it was buried under a flood of extraneous sites."

"I gave a couple of talks at conferences recently (over here in Israel)
whose starting-point was the increasing commercialization and
pay-for-placement of the material returned by search engines, and whose
end-point was that search engines are likely to evolve into gateways to the
Invisible Web, with specialist indexes  for e.g. academic searchers (perhaps
for-fee) versus the general web index which would return mainly "popular"
information and pages from firms that want to sell us something and are
prepared to pay for placement. Google's "scholar" is a large step in this
direction; I'm surprised they put US patents (another database they've
started to index) in their general web results, not in a separate index; I
wouldn't be at all surprised to see an "" address
indexing all the free-on-the-web patent databases out there."

One of the implications of this is that users will be taken to a list
of citations where there is no indication of whether their institution
licenses the materials.

I took a look at the FAQ Google wrote for Scholar and saw:
"For books, click on "Library Search" next to the title to find a library
near you that has a copy of the work in question (this service is provided
courtesy of OCLC). "
Perhaps the LMS vendors will work with Google and come up with a way to
check journal titles from Google Scholar search results against the holdings
of "a library near you" or of the institution your IP number comes from?"

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.

Soraya Assar, MLS
Documentation Editor
Eclipsys Corporation
1550 Soldiers Field Rd
Boston MA 02135
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