18.390 scholarship and Google

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 06:45:44 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 390.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Norman Hinton <hinton_at_springnet1.com> (12)
         Subject: Re: 18.386 scholarship and Google, and Alice

   [2] From: "Joseph Raben" <joeraben_at_cox.net> (33)
         Subject: Scholar.Google

         Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 06:32:29 +0000
         From: Norman Hinton <hinton_at_springnet1.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.386 scholarship and Google, and Alice

I do want to make it clear that I use Google every day: the Advanced Search
function is excellent. It's "Scholar" that I don't care to look at any
more. I can find more on-line in the MLA Bib on-line, and quicker, plus
many other specialist on-line bibs (on Chaucer, OE lang and lit, etc.
etc.) So far at least Google Scholar seems irrelevant and untrustworthy
compared to the other on-line things I use all the time.

Jim, one difference between wikis and our beloved books is that our books
don't get changed by persons unknown every day. And even the best blogs I
know of have an unchecked, 'no time for research' aspect that keeps me far
away from them. I can run off at the mouth all by myself -- I don't need to
own a computer to watch other folks do it. I'd much rather get a response
from one of the medievalists' Lists.

         Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 06:34:20 +0000
         From: "Joseph Raben" <joeraben_at_cox.net>
         Subject: Scholar.Google

Patrick Rourke writes:

>Which brings up, among other listings,
>"Afar All Seemed Compassed": Cosmopolitan Ethnicity in the Victorian
>Metropolis Monster soup: the microscope and Victorian fantasy
>Constructions of Childhood in Art and Media: Sexualized Innocence
>on the first page.
>Frankly, I think the problem is that those making the criticisms about this
>resource are forgetting three things:
>1. it is a Beta
>2. humanists are not its primary intended audience
>3. it is entirely dependent upon the resources it has access to. If you
>cannot find a particle article in Google scholar, chances are that is
>because the journal in which it was published is not available in an online
>resource to which Google has obtained rights to search.

Checking out those references, one finds, first, an article on child
psychology written for doctors and with only the slightest passing mentions
of Alice. The second citation requires a subscription. The third offers an
abstract that mentions only artitsts, and does not mention Alice. In fact,
the preponderance of articles in my earlier search seem to relate to
psychiatric or other medical concerns. Whether that generalization holds I
cannot determine, since almost all of the ones I clicked on either required
a fee or a subscription or were in a format that was not available. A gamble
of the requisite sums on the basis of a mere title is beyond the resources
of the typical humanities scholar. Rourke's points 2 and 3 emphasize the
limitations of this resource for serious academics. In the responses posted
so far to my request for evidence that Scholar.Google is a useful tool for
scholarly research, I have seen nothing yet that really responds.

Joe Raben
Received on Wed Dec 01 2004 - 02:04:45 EST

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