Academic Search

Academic researchers need to know about citation research. This article in Online Searcher will shed some light on how Google Scholar really works.

Set Your Cites High: The Value of Quality Citation Information by Amy Affelt and David Pauwels (Sept/Oct 2016)

In Google Scholar, “Dates and citation counts are estimated and are determined automatically by a computer program.” Really!

This poses problems for the information profession who needs the exact number of cited references.

Article describes and examines: Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, HeinOnline, Ebsco databases, Scopus, and Web of Science. Identifying and tracking down the cited references will take more than one approach or one tool.

Digitizing orphan works

Orphan works are books and articles that are still under copyright but for whom copyright holder can’t be found. The Harvard Library is looking for ways to “solve the legal complexities of the orphan works problem by identifying no-risk or low-risk ways to digitize and distribute orphan works under U.S. copyright law”. It recently released David Hansen’s study “Digitizing Orphan Works: Legal Strategies to Reduce Risks for Open Access to Copyrighted Orphan Works”

Libraries, Orphan Works, and the Future of Copyright by Nancy K Herther, Information Today (Oct 4)

Article provides background to the current state of copyright law with some comparison of the US to Canada and the UK a 2013 law ““allows the government to grant firms or organisations the right to use orphaned material, providing ‘a diligent search’ for the copyright owner is first carried out. It also allows for the creation of an organisation that might levy licensing fees on behalf of absent content creators—and which would pay out to rights holders who subsequently discover their work has been sold.”

Hopefully the Harvard Library will succeed in its goal to “to help clear the way for U.S. universities, libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions to digitize their orphan works and make the digital copies open access.””

LLRX for information professionals

LLRX – Law and Technology Resources for Legal Professionals – an important web journal for legal researchers – has been redesigned into a fresh and contemporary WordPress site. Sabrina Pacifici, the founder and publisher, wrote, “Your support is appreciated, and I will continue to maintain LLRX as a community of best practice and knowledge sharing for a wide range of professionals who are critical members of organizations in all sectors.” offers a monthly edition of new articles, guides and topical resources comprised of comprehensive, reliable and wide ranging topical content to support actionable projects, research, teaching/training/learning components for professionals and students in law, academia, the public, private, and advocacy sectors. [Source]

Pacifici also blogs her own findings and observations on a variety of legal topics and information resources in beSpacific.

Dealing with null results

Love this line from Greg Notess’ article Tips for Avoiding, or Celebrating, Zero Search Results in Information Today — “Only librarians like to search; everyone else likes to find”.

Notess examines the reasons for and the significance of a null set of results. Mostly, searchers need to know the structure and scope of the database; literary and academic databases are much different than Google; specialty searches such as for patents take special skills.

Digital Archiving

Digital archiving has reached an urgency as more records begin in digital format, and older ones are digitized. Jan Zastrow in Information Today introduces Top 10 Digital Archives Blogs (July 5)  There is much for the archivist or records manager to investigate here and some for the individual interested in personal archives and genealogy..

Here’s a list of bests to help you sift through the noise—online journals, blogs, and RSS and Twitter feeds—to keep you abreast of what’s happening in the quickly evolving world of digital archives, electronic records, digital preservation and curation, personal archiving, digital humanities, and more. Some are sponsored by august institutions, while others are more informal, idiosyncratic offerings from thought leaders in the industry. A caveat: These are all U.S.-centric, English-language sources, which do not span the universe of ideas about digital cultural heritage globally (for that, get started at the World Digital Library;


It’s not often that we come across an article that compares Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar, and Microsoft Academic for citation analysis. Google Scholar Digest posted this study by Anne-Wil Harzing of Middlesex University, UK (June 13, 2016) Microsoft Academic versus Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science: Anne-Wil Harzing’s case.

This article assesses Microsoft Academic coverage through a detailed comparison of the publication and citation record of a single academic for each the four main citation databases: Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, the Web of Science, and Scopus. Overall, this first small-scale case study suggests that the new incarnation of Microsoft Academic presents us with an excellent alternative for citation analysis. If our findings can be confirmed by larger-scale studies, Microsoft Academic might well turn out to combine the advantages of broader coverage, as displayed by Google Scholar, with the advantage of a more structured approach to data presentation, typical of Scopus and the Web of Science. If so, the new Microsoft Academic service would truly be a Phoenix arisen from the ashes.

Spoiler alert: Microsoft Academic was found to be stronger than Web of Science for publication and citation coverage, and at least equal to Scopus. “Only Google Scholar outperforms Microsoft Academic interms of both publications and citations.”

Jurn for academic research

When searching for academic materials consider a search engine developed by David Haden in the UK. It is powered by Google Custom Search of freely available academic articles and theses in the disciplines of Arts, Humanities, Business, Law, Nature, Science, and Medical.

“Established in 2009 to comprehensively cover the arts and humanities, in 2014 JURN expanded in scope. JURN now also covers selected university fulltext repositories and many additional ejournals in science, biomedical, business and law. In 2015/6 JURN expanded again, adding over 600 ejournals on aspects of the natural world.”

The site has good instructions on syntax and strategies to use. Sources have been classified so that you can browse topics to identify the classification of 3000 of the 4000 e-journals.

The curator also provides a guide to academic search that contains excellent advice and examples.

Jurn was recently recommended in the May 2016 edition of The BestBizWeb Enewsletter.

“… one of the features that makes JURN special is that it also incorporates curation, so the materials in the database are carefully selected to include the most substantive and relevant free academic and scholarly resources. “

Subscribe to BestBizWeb to benefit from its selections every month.

Google Scholar – journals and citations

Google, to my amazement, produces Google Scholar Metrics (GSM) for authors to use to ” gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications” (From FAQ). It shows for a journal its five-year h-index and h-median metrics. These are measure of journal impact. The h-index ” reflects both the number of publications and the number of citations per publication” (Wikipedia). Searchers may use these lists to identify journals that Google Scholar has indexed, the articles and number of times cited. Current data is for 2015.

But GSM shows only a small portion of the journals. Enter Journal Scholar Metrics from EC3 Research Group: Evaluación de la Ciencia y la Comunicación Científica. Universidad de Granada. It displays data for Social Sciences and Humanities (SS&H) journals included in Google Scholar Metrics (GSM). Journals are classified by subject and country. For Canada, as an example, there are 210 jounrals listed showing the h-index and with links to Google Scholar content.