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.

Google – two indexes

This doesn’t sound good for the information professional working at a desktop – Google will have two indexes: one for mobile users for quick response, and a desktop version that will be less current.

Within months, Google to divide its index, giving mobile users better & fresher content Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Oct 13)

“Google is going to create a separate mobile index within months, one that will be the main or “primary” index that the search engine uses to respond to queries. A separate desktop index will be maintained, one that will not be as up-to-date as the mobile index.”

Maybe it would be a good idea to break the habit of searching Google all the time.

Google Ranking Algorithms

Although Google has denied that ranking of search results is influenced by a user’s social connections, Google is certainly extremely interested in the methods and the possibilities.

Exploring a newly-granted Google patent around social signals, Dave Davies, Search Engine Land (Oct 7)

After considerable analysis of the patent, Davies concludes, “In short, according to this patent, what people you’re connected to recommend, like and engage with could be used to impact your rankings.” If Google is doing, the source of information isn’t clear – yet.

Also of great interest:

Another aspect of Google search that we need to be constantly aware of is that RankBrain now applies to all queries. Essentially, this means that artificial intelligence (AI) is interpreting all queries to some degree. While at this time the AI implementation revolves more around using machine learning to understand the nature of the query (and likely type of content and format being sought), its rollout to all queries and the promotion of John Giannandrea to Head of Search at Google marks the push into AI control over larger portions of the Google algorithm.

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.

Boolean Strings for Searchers

Sharpen your search skills by following Boolean Strings, a blog on search strategies and tools by Irina Shamaeva. Her field is recruiting and sourcing: She is partner and chief sourcer at Brain Grain Recruiting; and she shares her search expertise through the blog and her book, 300 Best Boolean Strings. it’s not all about queries using AND, OR, NOT – she presents strategies and specific constructions at various sources for more exact searches. She shows how to use advanced search syntax effectively, and has developed a few Custom Search Engines at Google.

Boolean Strings was recently reviewed in the September 2016 issue of the BestBizWeb eNewsletter. Robert Berkman wrote, “In fact, it’s one of the most interesting and unusual blogs we’ve come across in a long time. It’s a great resource with lots of very smart research strategies, and is useful for beginners and advanced searchers alike.”

Lisa Louise Cooke Search Tip

Lisa Louise Cooke has a new tech-tip video for genealogists – Speak Google’s Language: Google Search Operator Basics. Many will know these two tips – using quotation marks and using OR – but Cooke’s explanations are elegantly simple and enjoyable. Where I would have been tempted to talk about building up concepts, she keeps it very simple by showing how to use OR to search on two formats for a person’s name.   The book she mentions (in her store) is one of the best guides to using Google I have ever come across.

Less well known Google features

Lots to try out in 21 {Awesome} Google Tips & Tricks Series by Daniel Futerman (ongoing)

This guide to features in Google tools is useful, but features do disappear – especially at Google. Has something on Youtube, Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Alerts;  Chrome; ads – Google Adsense, Adwords – plus more.

The first item is the very interesting — Google Search: Your personal search trends. It mentions that Google provides statistics on your Google searches – but I could find no trace. I did, however, find the new look to Google’s search history – now called Google My Activity – shows search terms and visited pages. Can filter by date and by Google product (images, video etc), and do a keyword search – very good.

Searching Chrome History

This might be handy – extension that enables searching the text of the web pages in Chrome’s browsing history.

How to search the full text of web pages in your Chrome browsing history with Falcon, Ian Paul, PCWorld (Sep 23)

Finding a website in your browsing history is easy if you know the title of the webpage or site. But if all you remember is the general topic, things get a little harder to find. There’s a new Chrome extension called Falcon that attempts to solve this problem.

VPN and the Opera Browser

People concerned about privacy online might want to  check this news that the  Opera browser has a built-in virtual private network (VPN).

Opera browser now has a built-in VPN, and it’s powered by this Toronto company, CanTech Letter (Sept 20)

Oslo-based browser company Opera Software has implemented a free VPN directly in Opera 40, allowing users to create secure connections to one of Opera’s five global servers, located in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands, to choose their location while using the Internet.

Not mentioned in this announcement is that a Chinese consortium bought the mobile and desktop versions of the browser in July. Chinese consortium buys Opera browser for $600 mn (July 18) – Hmm – something to watch.