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November 18, 2004

Have at it. Google Scholar. [09:20 AM]
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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Have at it.:

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 09:44 AM:

Childlike, no one understands.

I'm relatively new to the blog, so I was curious if the subtitle acts as Patrick's mood ring (changing often) or if I just happened to catch the annual update.

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:12 AM:

Looks OK for casual use. To do the kind of research a PhD student would need is something else entirely. There are better resources for that.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:14 AM:

Actually, neither. The default is the line from Peter Blegvad's "King Strut", now restored, thanks for the reminder.

Other, temporary subtitles appear at random, left there by elves. Damn elves.

Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:16 AM:

Woo! I'm number one! That is, I've got the top result for my last name, and all of my published papers appear in the top ten results.

Yeah, fine, I have an uncommon last name. What's your point?

And how long do you think it'll be until we start seeing GoogleScholarWhacks?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:19 AM:

Scholarship is for more than just PhD students. Casual use is what many of these Google utilities are all about, and that's what's good about them.

The idea that the needs and methods of PhD students are some kind of useful benchmark in regard to the life of the mind is, actually, kind of nuts when you think about it. It's as if we were to sniffily dismiss any and all outdoor gear that wasn't up to the needs of a Navy SEAL being night-dropped into North Korea.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:31 AM:

Anybody know where they got the content from?

I note that they have three different citations for books published by O'Reilly (and one misspelling.)

William S ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:47 AM:

what are these other PhD level resources? please do share.

tavella ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:58 AM:

Oooh, this is perfect. I have papers on Seamus Heaney and Tim O'Brien I'm writing, and it's very hard to find any useful academic info on them in the noise of regular Google. Thanks, Patrick!

Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:14 AM:

I did a search on my name -- who doesn't, right? -- and I was more than startled that the first listing was a citation from my father's doctoral dissertation. It's so easy to forget he's an educated man.

jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:30 AM:

Woo! American Philological Association papers without having to go to the University Library! Woo! I'm doing the happy research dance. It's been far too long.

For casual researchers and gnoscophiles like me, this is a great thing! Thanks, Patrick!

Ian York ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:36 AM:

Pretty impressive, actually. It found almost all my papers in the first couple pages, found a bunch of papers that cited me, and turned up (as far as I can see) no false positives at all. Trying a few other searches (e.g. "thimet", "ICP47") shows similar accuracy.

It misses a few. Searching PubMed directly gives much better coverage of published papers, and there are specialized resources for citations that are also much better than Google (Google found something like 20-30 citations of my papers, whereas the ISI Web of Knowledge finds over 1000 citations of my papers from 1994 to 1996 alone (which is where I got bored). Similarly, searching PubMEd for "thimet" turns up many more citations than did Google Scholar -- though GS did pull up most of the really significant ones.

Still, pretty impressive, as we've come to expect of Google.

Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:49 AM:

They look to have most of my papers, though not my thesis indexed. Now that I no longer have ready access to a top-flight university library, this is a nifty resource when I want to dig a little deeper into something.

Paul ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:54 AM:

That is pretty cool--as much for the game of unexpected connections as for anything else. I searched for "Samuel Delany" and found a cite from an Eserver.org article on George Clinton's theory of funkitivity.

Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:56 AM:

It looks like it'll be interesting to go through. I'm no more than a casual scholar of any particular field (although my new cube at work is making me say that I want to be a scholar of ergonomics; this is the single worse place I've ever had to sit).

Laurel Amberdine ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Oh, very cool. This is much easier than arxiv.org.

The FAQ is, of course, googlishly cute:

9. The description of my article is wrong and I am appropriately outraged. How do I have it corrected?
BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 01:51 PM:

And it's good, too. I was able to find the paper I attended a talk on last night in about 15 seconds (well, the abstract -- the paper's no out yet).

Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Nifty. Looks like I have some cousins doing what looks to be some pretty groovy research. That's cool.

Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 02:06 PM:

All this indicates to me is that people are researching the wrong stuff. I typed in "cat vacuum" and found nothing at all related to writing or procrastination. Just a bunch of papers about vacuums and cats.

(Although hit number eight, "Generating Schrodinger Cat-like states by means of conditional measurements on a beam-splitter," did keep me entertained for a brief while.)

Derek Lowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 03:11 PM:

No doubt they'll be adding more publishers to their list. In my field (chemistry), they pick up a couple of my recent papers, but not others. Looks like they don't have the American Chemical Society journals, and I don't see any Elsevier or Wiley titles listed, either. Those two are heavyweights in many disciplines, and I'd consider them essential.

For the medical/biological/pharmacological area, the best publicly available resource is PubMed. A wider-ranging tool is Scirus, which isn't too bad, either (it did better picking at up my publication list than Google Scholar, and what better test could you ask for, right?)

The big problem with accessing scholarly publications is the high price for full text. In a corporate setting, though, all a medicinal chemist needs is SciFinder and something like Micropatent.

Michael Nielsen ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 05:11 PM:

Derek: If Google scholar is successful, I imagine that publishers like the American Chemical Society, Elsevier et al will be beating down Google's door to be included. So I doubt that'll be a problem for long.

I'll be pretty surprised if it isn't successful: I just replied to a referee report, and found that I used Google Scholar four or five times...

Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:02 PM:

My department was buzzing about Google Scholar all day. For fluid mechanics Ph.D.s it looks superb.

I'm not knocking Patrick's point that usefulness to Ph.D.s shouldn't be the sole measure of googly goodness. The genius of this is that it opens up real science to people who don't have university libraries next door. I can't wait to see the science fair projects devised by high school students with OpenCourseWare and Google Scholar educations. When I was younger, my public library had no good technical info and it was really frustrating.

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:28 PM:

Think you misunderstood me, Patrick. I meant to be approving of Google scholar. I just thought if you needed the kind of depth PhD students need, there might be better choices. When I'm not engaged in PhD research, I probably will use it quite a bit.

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:26 PM:

Look, mom, I'm famous!

- RL Wald

Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Chuck, two words that are important to every Ph.D. student: literature search.

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:48 AM:

I know those words very well, Andy. I am a PhD student.

Alejandro Rivero ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:22 AM:

Now I would enjoy a "Cited By" alert service (I am just trying a new one for ArXiV), something mailing me when a selected article gets a new cite.

JM Kagan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 04:54 PM:

Oh, WOW, Patrick---Thank you! I put in my dad's name to test it, thinking maybe I'd find some of his chemical abstracts or his patents. No luck on those (but I might be using initials when he didn't) but the single ref that popped up was something I never knew he wrote. They don't have the text on line but, armed with the knowledge that this exists, I can and will find a copy---and maybe a copy for my brother, too. Wonderful and surprising and amazing and all sorts of thanks all over again!

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 03:08 AM:

"gnoscophile" - jennie: I like it; I like it a lot. Think it may end up in a few of my places ;) Thank you.

[Or would this be preferred? 'jennie; I like it. I like it a lot' OR 'jennie, I like it. I like it a lot'? Ahem. Doubtful as it may be, a virgo with strong libran overtones seems to fit much of my personality.]

Will now have a look at the newgle google thing.

Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:55 AM:

Well, I checked for my brother's papers. "John F Bell". They don't get trapped into ignoring "JF Bell" so a few extra search terms can be useful, even something as simple as which academic institution somebody works for.

It looks good.

Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 03:48 PM:

I'm an MLS student and for librarians, this is like... well, I don't know what, it's that amazing, though. It quickly and effiecently does what we need it to do for helping people find scholarly research. Especially when those people are MLS students writing papers. And you can see who has cited what! Amazing stuff.

Imagine all those crappy search interfaces for all those spotty databases being scrapped and replaced with a google window! I'm giddy.

Now I would enjoy a "Cited By" alert service (I am just trying a new one for ArXiV), something mailing me when a selected article gets a new cite.

Do you mean like the Google News Alert? That wopuld be mighty useful.

Also, this is still in beta, folks. When the full version goes live, i expect it will have filled in a lot of those little holes mentioned here.

jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:33 PM:


So glad "gnoscophile" tickled you! Go forth! Use! Propagate. If enough people adopt my little coinage, it can grow up to become a lexical word.

As a self-declared member of SCAPS (the Semi-Colon Appreciation and Protection Society), I strongly prefer and endorse your first sentence; the second attempt is an unconventional usage, while the third leaves the poor punctuation mark out entirely.

And "newgle" got a grin out of me.

Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 06:54 PM:

It's missing a few of my papers, and most of the citations. They also have multiple versions of some papers. Looking under my full name, they're missing a lot (including one of the most-cited unpublished papers in the literature). Much more shows up under just my last name (even limiting it to the stuff that's actually me).

It's a neat idea, and I hope they bring it up to snuff.