Google and the scholar: The role of Google in scientists' information-seeking behaviour

Online Information Review (Impact Factor: 0.92). 04/2010; 34(2):282-294. DOI: 10.1108/14684521011036990
Source: DBLP


Purpose – This paper aims to demonstrate the role that the Google general search engine plays in the
information-seeking behaviour of scientists, particularly physicists and astronomers.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a mixed-methods study including 56
semi-structured interviews, a questionnaire survey of 114 respondents (47 per cent response rate) and
the use of information-event cards to collect critical incident data. The study was conducted at the
Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College, London.
Findings – The results show that Google is the tool most used for problem-specific information
seeking. The results also show the growing reliance of scientists on general search engines,
particularly Google, for finding scholarly articles. Initially, finding scholarly articles was a by-product
of general searching for information rather than focused searches for papers. However, a growing
number of articles read by scientists are identified through the Google general search engine and, as
scientists are becoming more aware of the quantity of scholarly papers searchable by Google, they are
increasingly relying on Google for finding scholarly literature.
Research limitations/implications – As the only fields covered in the study were physics and
astronomy, and the research participants were sourced from just one department of one institution,
caution should be taken in generalising the findings.
Originality/value – The data are based on a mixed-methods in-depth study of scientists’
information-seeking behaviour which sheds some light on a question raised in past studies relating to
the reason for the high number of articles identified through Google.

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Available from: Hamid R. Jamali,
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    • "The relatively quick take-up and popularity of Google among academics (Jamali and Asadi, 2009) can be put down to a number of factors: 1 Usage is a scholarly activity in which researchers have relatively more freedom to experiment and be more innovative because it is less regulated – much less so than citing, or where you publish. It is also the area where there has been the most change and innovation as a result of the digital transition, especially since the scope and use of commercial search engines has increased so markedly, incorporating a wider range of information sources and so providing even greater choices. 2 Citation data and indices (supplied by Google Scholar) are much more accessible and, as a consequence, it is much easier to determine quality and to establish trustworthiness in a disintermediated environment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Admit it, today, finding stuff is very easy, maybe too easy. The senior author of this chapter should know because he has spent half his working life teaching students how to find information using Boolean operators, word proximity, field markers, nesting and all the rest of the paraphernalia associated with conducting an online search in the 'old days', and then only to retrieve an abstract. No need any longer; now you simply bung a word or two into an empty box, which thoughtfully corrects your spelling, and low and behold, thanks to a kindly algorithm or two, you get a huge, ranked list of annotated hits – fortunately, with the most relevant at the top. And while you might get an abstract as part of the search you will also get the whole thing and a lot more than text (hence our use of the word 'stuff '), there and then, usually for free – but if not, there is always a digital friend from an online community who will give it to you. If that is the case, why then devote a whole chapter to finding stuff in the digital environment? The answer is that this revolutionary form of searching and finding has naturally enough led to a revolution in the way we seek information and consume it and commentators (and parents and teachers) are split as to whether this leads to better or worse outcomes as a consequence. Equally important for this book's core readership – information professionals, libraries and, to a certain extent, publishers, once the holders of the keys to the information hoard – they have become bit-part players in the digital searching and finding business. How
    Is digital different?, Edited by M. Moss, 01/2015: chapter Finding stuff: pages 19-34; Facet Publishing.
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    • "This has been evident in previous studies, such as Julien and Barker (2009) who have consistently demonstrated that information seekers rely heavily on the Internet to search for information. Reports by Connaway et al. (2008) and Jamali and Asadi (2010) have shown that Google in particular is the search engine of choice. Furthermore, Liu and Yang (2004) reported that graduate students have a strong preference for easy and fast information retrieval, with the highest percentage using Internet search engines as their primary information resource. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reports on the information seeking behaviour of computer science graduate students. The following research questions are put forward to address the main research objective on how graduate students seek for information: i) what type of information resource do computer science graduate students use?; ii) how do computer science graduate students seek and obtain information?; iii) what are the problems faced by computer science graduate students while seeking information?; iv) does any relationship exist between the use of different information resources and graduates’ demographic information (i.e., age and type of graduate program)?; v) does any relationship exist between the use of different information resources and problems in finding information?and vi) does any relationship exist between the use of different information resources and success in finding information?. A survey was conducted at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, at the University of Malaya, with a sample size of 217 graduate students. The data gathered was analysed quantitatively using SPSS statistical software. The findings show that even though the Internet Search Engine is the first information resource used by computer science graduate, they are however still in doubt with the trustworthiness of the information they retrieved. This has made the students dissatisfied with their initial findings that led them to use more reliable information resources, such as digital libraries and online databases. This study provides insights into how computer science graduate students seek information that offers improvement implications to the development of available information resources and library services.
    Malaysian Journal of Library and Information Science 08/2014; 19(2):1-15. · 0.38 Impact Factor
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    • "Scholar is a 'one stop shop' which offers access to a wider set of information sources (e-books, articles, pre-prints, reports, seminar discussions, teaching materials) than traditional academic retrieval systems. It can also be employed, on occasions, to bypass publishers and libraries making sources available to a wider public: 'democratising' content (Jamali and Asadi 2010). Scholar enables the user to check for interconnections between authors and content through a 'cited by' feature and can facilitate multidisciplinary work, compared to subject specific databases such as SciFinder Scholar or BIOSIS. "
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    ABSTRACT: The paper aims to contribute to the sociological analysis of power through the study of the structuration and retrieval of information on the internet. The main argument of the paper is that, paradoxically, in an age when the availability of information has increased exponentially, there is a risk that diversity in the use of sources for the construction of knowledge becomes more restricted than in the past and that information search moves towards greater objectification and centralisation. Knowledge management systems increasingly shape the ways in which we think about the questions we ask and how we try to answer them, which raises fundamental and largely neglected questions for education policy. The paper illustrates these trends with particular reference to the use of Google and Google Scholar
    Journal of Education Policy 07/2013; 28(4):481-500. DOI:10.1080/02680939.2013.775347 · 1.19 Impact Factor
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