18.375 Google Scholar

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 07:51:41 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 375.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 07:44:44 +0000
         From: Hope Greenberg <Hope.Greenberg_at_uvm.edu>
         Subject: Re: 18.369 Google Scholar, scholars and googles

Norman Hinton, quoted Janice Bogstad who said, about Google Scholar:
> Please don't advertise it to colleagues or students
> as a legitimate research tool. We've only done
> spot-checks at our library and found many
> cases of under- or mis-reporting."

and Willard added:
> To my mind, the emergence of Google Scholar raises the question of why we
> need such things, or at least why scholars need to pay these developments
> so much attention. Where the attention should really be, I think, is on
> teaching students and colleagues how to find things online with Google, A9
> etc., and how to go about discovering what sort of knowledge any given Web
> page has to offer.

Yes, absolutely, good online searching skills need to be learned, and thus
should probably be taught. But why should scholars pay attention to Google and
why, despite its evident shortcomings, should students? Because:

   - students will use it, regardless,so there might as well be some
guidance from
skilled researchers on how best to use it;
   - Google, simply by throwing its considerable weight into academic
will have an impact on how searching is defined, structured and done;
   - Google has evidenced no little skill in deciphering how people conduct
searches, so, for those interested in exploring how people search, and how best
to address the limitations of those kinds of searches, it is useful to pay
attention to their model;
   - but mostly, and this crops up again and again in the adoption of new
technologies and applications: Willard also mentioned "thinking in terms of the
authoritative source." If humanities scholars want to shape the tools that will
shape our scholarship, we need to use the tools that are provided, understand
their limitations, and point those out to their creators before those tools
become entrenched. We can't assume that the "authoritative source," in this
case Google, will get things "right" at the outset. We can assume that
something like Google Scholar may have enough of an impact to shape the way
research gets done, that the way they define "right" is the way "right" will

- Hope

hope.greenberg_at_uvm.edu, University of Vermont
Received on Wed Nov 24 2004 - 03:06:43 EST

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