7 Feb 2013

Using Google Scholar and other Google resources for research and teaching

The 40-minute long tutorial below introduces and summarises quite well how to interact with, and get the most out of, various Google resources including Google Scholar (the first 20 minutes), Google News (+ archived newspapers), Google public data explorer, Google Videos (searches all of Youtube and other video sites) and Google Books. The tutorial also introduces the handy Google Alerts and highlights the Google Search Box, which enables you to add Google Scholar custom searches to your website.

I'm sure that most of you are in the know about Google's wee research helpers, but this video is particularly helpful in supporting teachers/librarians who want to introduce their students to these services. However, at this junction it is sensible to ask yourself whether it's actually a good idea to recommend Google Scholar to students in the first place (a judgement call of preference I suppose).

Subscription databases are generally preferred by librarians. And that is because Google Scholar is a search engine and not a bibliographic index of previously published, peer-reviewed works (the top publications list is helpful here). As with everything else on the Web, it's prudent to check whether the search results are accurate and authoritative. Google Scholar could be seen as an extra tool that supports a student's overall research effort. But, it goes without saying that search results ought to be critically appraised and then used accordingly. A sensible approach would be to be open minded here and include Google Scholar (and other services) in formal information literacy classes, which would empower students to use such extra resources sensibly and in a state of conscious awareness.

Ronan’s previous piece on how to become a Google Power Searcher fits neatly into this context.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Alex. Personally I find myself using Google Scholar more and more, because of the citations feature which you don't get on PubMed for one.

    However, I think you raise an interesting point about how we 'sell' GS as librarians. Personally I think it should be presented as a key resource - when students leave academic life and embark on a career, in many cases GS will be all they have as a research tool. Moreover, using GS in a sense 'forces' students to develop critical thinking and appraisal skills where they may just take all peer-reviewed journal articles from a scholarly database at face value (which they obviously shouldn't). Not to mention the additional content such as grey literature and book chapters... Retrieval efficiency however, is another issue and naturally you can't beat PubMed at al in this content.