Google in the World of Academic Research

April 5, 2012

Librarians, teachers, and college professors all press their students not to use Google to research their projects, papers, and homework, but it is a dying battle. All students have to do is type in a few key terms and millions of results are displayed. The average student or person, for that matter, is not going to scour through every single result. If they do not find what they need, they simply rethink their initial key words and hit the search button again.

The Hindu recently wrote about, “Of Google and Scholarly Search,” the troubles researchers face when they only use Google and makes several suggestions for alternate search engines and databases.

Google has tried to combat their “low academic quality” results with Google Scholar and Annotum. Google Scholar is the equivalent of a regular academic database, except they don’t always return full text articles. Annotum takes a different approach by changing the search configuration all together. It is a scholarly blog platform, where experts can share their knowledge without being bogged down by personal opinion, rants, and other social networking content (Annotum was preceded by Knol, but Google is eliminating that service).

There are other tools to help the wayward researcher. The search engines Hakia, Kngine, Sensebot, and DuckDuckGo use semantic search technology instead of the usual Google formula. While they are not strictly research search engines, they do provide you with a more logical approach to search than returning every web site where the key term pops up. One semantic search engine that eliminates the usual everyman search is Deepdyve. You won’t be able to look for pop culture references with it, but it will give you more authoritative sources than Google.

If one needs information specifically on the sciences, Web of Science and SciVerce ScienceDirect are university -approved databases that host millions of articles from scientific journals, abstracts, track research data, and connect with other researchers. Another topic that is of current interest in the IT world is patents. Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all racing to create the next big technological craze, but they research patents to make sure their competitors haven’t gotten there first. Micropatent, SumoBrain, and Relecura are the top patent databases on the web used by industry and business heads.

While Google may provide the easiest way to access information, it is hardly the best for research. Use the above search engines and web sites to improve research quality and not just receive quantity from Google.

Whitney Grace, April 5, 2012

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2 Responses to “Google in the World of Academic Research”

  1. Marydee Ojala on April 5th, 2012 10:42 am

    Interesting that the Hindu article didn’t mention Microsoft’s Academic website (, which would be more of a direct competitor to Google Scholar that the ones the article does mention. We’ll be talking about this ab WebSearch University ( in September.

  2. Google in the World of Academic Research (Lead by Example?) « Another Word For It on April 5th, 2012 4:38 pm

    […] Google in the World of Academic Research by Whitney Grace. […]

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