Monthly Archives: October 2015

To What Extend Is Google Scholar Contributing to Enriching Society?

Introduction of a special targeted search engine “Google Scholar” for academicians, scholars are assisting in bringing content upfront more relevant to their requirement.

It will continue to be more beneficial to scholar community, authors and users of open access and society at large provided it develops a strong collaboration between users and providers of academic information.

Popularity of specialized search services, such as Google Scholar, is an inevitable and welcome approach in the academic community for the simple logic that Google Scholar enables you to search content specifically for scholarly literature, including research results, review papers, thesis, books and abstracts from all areas of research and technology.

Students and researchers are using Google Scholar to find articles from a wide range of academic publishers, professional societies, repositories and universities, as well as research articles available across the web.

Google Scholar has a potential edge over some other existing search engines because it serves as a specialist with its existing advantages. It is like going to a specialist doctor for your ailment rather than going to a general physician. It makes your search more targeted and results more accurate.

Unavailability of concrete answers about the search results, lack of source description and ranking criteria is creating concerns about comprehensiveness of Google Scholar search results and is creating more doubts in minds of already sceptical academic audience which fears the possibility of results manipulation.

Some latest results have shown that Google Scholar has widened its coverage and enhanced its functionality over the years, as a result many from the academic fraternity has started trusting Google scholar more over. There are many different ways to search content across Google Scholar and other resources and the number results retrieved varies significantly between different resources, thus making data from these studies difficult to interpret as to which is better.

Though we cannot neglect the fact that in order to succeed further Google scholar will have to be updated and keep pace with expectation of its users and latest technological developments in order to be more useful to society.

The Hook or Crook of Open Access

In recent years there has been much discussion between publishing community, librarians and the research fraternity about the potential benefits of free access to research information. Like two sides of a coin, open access also has two sides to it. Let us discuss some pros and cons of the open access model here.

Let’s Discuss the Advantages First –

  1. Most positive aspect of open access model is – it is free for reader community. People in favour of open access state that free availability of research articles will ensure wider dissemination and thus benefiting science and research fraternity.
  2. Another advantage deriving community is libraries. The open access model is beneficial for libraries in a situation where they are forced to cut down on subscriptions due to increased charges.
  3. Increased readership – Under this model authors are able to share their research to wider audience available online, thus increasing readership because it is freely available to readers.
  4. Advantage for developing countries- Open access is a boon for researchers from developing countries where access to subscription based journals is an issue. Open access helps such researchers and scientists to have access to international research community with either waived or free publication fee.

Now Let’s Have a Look on Disadvantages Also – 

  1. Not free for author- though it is free for readers, authors have to pay for publishing. Thus proving there are no free lunches. This causes researchers and authors to discourage open access.
  2. Compromise on quality- it is argued that since open access benefits journals by publishing more articles, as majority of profit is coming from publication. Thus they encourage more articles, in turn destroying the quality of the article.
  3. Sustainability – It is argued whether an open access model can support research publication infrastructure over the long term, thus raising question over its sustainability.

The Cutting – Throat Competition of Journal Indexes

Indexation of a journal is a reflection of its quality. Indexed journals are measured higher in quality as compared to non-indexed journals, thus forming the basis of competition in journal indexing. And it is not spared from the debate.

Many popular indexation services have developed over the years. But credibility and ranking of each is a topic of discussion amongst the author community.

It has become a matter of concern as to how to decide which indexation service is most acceptable and valid globally. Also, what are the parameters for comparing the quality of papers/research published in a journal indexed by different indexation services.

The reason indexing has become an important parameter and thus a matter of contest is because academic institutions are emphasizing a lot on the importance of indexed publication, thus raising a contest among authors also for selecting the right kind of indexed journal for publishing their research.

Publishers and journals are found bragging about the number of indexing services that cover their journals. And this contention is because publishers want to attract more author fees by pretending to be the most sought after publication by way of number of indexing services that cover them.

This has lead to a lot of confusion amongst the author community as selection of a high quality journal has become a difficult decision. Absence of correct guidelines on this topic is another reason for this confusion. As a result, many publications are claiming that their journals are indexed in “X” number of indexing services, which in fact are not indexing services. Either projecting a false claim or they are ignorant about journal indexing.

Moreover, with so many indexation services in the market, there are questions and doubts which warrant a discussion. There are questions which need to be answered, like which indexation service is most relevant and universally acceptable. Associations of editors and other organization from the same fraternity can play a pivotal role in clearing these doubts.