November 18, 2004

References Reversed

by Andrew Stern · , 12:20 pm

Wow, this is great! Google has released a beta of Google Scholar, which offers search on topics, authors, etc. and returns links and beaucoup info on academic papers. Ooh, this is going to enable us to so easily dig up all kinds of papers that we didn’t know about yet. I feel like I just got a major scholarly power up.

Here’s their heuristic for ranking links:

Just as with Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders your search results by how relevant they are to your query, so the most useful references should appear at the top of the page. This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article’s author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature. Google Scholar also automatically analyzes and extracts citations and presents them as separate results, even if the documents they refer to are not online. This means your search results may include citations of older works and seminal articles that appear only in books or other offline publications.

Thanks to for the link, who got it from T.L. Taylor of Terra Nova.

Now, off to ego surf the Ivory Tower. (Hey, when are they going to include scholary blogs in the search results? It could be a feature you could turn on or off, kind of like dirty pictures in Google Images.)

11 Responses to “References Reversed”

  1. Malcolm Ryan Says:

    This seems to be just an impoverished version of CiteSeer, which has been an invaluable research tool for many years. The only advantage I see is that it is backed by the Google web-crawler, which is probably more extensive than CiteSeer’s. This could prove to be significant, but CiteSeer is still more featureful, including abstracts, bibtex entries, backwards and forwards linkage of citations and a host of other things.


  2. andrew Says:

    I’ve played with CiteSeer, not recently enough to compare it to Google Scholar, but I agree that the reach of Google’s web crawlers are what make this exciting. Plus I’m guessing there’s some unique search features / info that Google Scholar gives you, link ranking, ease of use, etc.

    Google Scholar claims they include “scholarly articles available across the web” in their search. When the web crawlers find a paper on a non-academic site, I wonder if it recognizes it as “scholarly” somehow. Or, when it finds a random paper on the web, maybe it’s just matching up the official academic listing of it with the actual document itself, where it happens to live on the web.

    Here’s some additional enthusiam for it.

  3. Mark Reid Says:

    I agree with Malcolm’s comment about Google Scholar being an impoverished version of CiteSeer, but there are two reasons why it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

    The first is that it seems Google Scholar searches and indexes articles outside the field of computer science. This gives it wider audience which may or may not be such a great thing for you if you are a computer scientist.

    Secondly, CiteSeer has been plagued with trouble recently due to it not being able to handle heavy loads. Google, in contrast, has a proven track record of being able to handle huge numbers of queries on massive databases. Mind you, at the moment you sometimes have to hit refresh a few times before Google Scholar will return a page of hits. That’s Beta software for you though.

  4. Craig Reynolds Says:

    I am a fan and a frequent user of CiteSeer. I agree that, as of today, CiteSeer is more useful than Google Scholar Beta. We will see how that changes as Google Scholar matures.

    However it is worth noting that one of CiteSeer’s developers, Steve Lawrence left NEC Research (where CiteSeer was born) a few years ago to take a position at Google. One could imagine that his work there lead to the development of Google Scholar.

  5. noah Says:

    Google Scholar also has clearly benefited from having all of Ingenta’s material to work through. Ingenta offers their own search service.

  6. andrew Says:

    I don’t know guys, I just did two comparison searches on the term “interactive story”, and the results of Google Scholar vs. CiteSeer are pretty different — including Citeseer’s complete omission of a 2000 paper of mine and Michael’s, that Google includes at the top of its first page of results… (in fact continued searching in CiteSeer for that paper turned up nothing!)

    Now, perhaps there’s papers missing all over the place on both services, and ways in each to correct omissions, but still… How reliable have you all found Citeseer over the years? (Sorry if I’m committing a bit of heresy by questioning Citeseer’s thoroughness.)

  7. michael Says:

    I’ve found citeseer to be highly effective when doing searches within “traditional” areas of computer science, with it’s effectiveness tailing off as you move into more interdisciplinary areas (like interactive drama, AI-based art).

  8. Aaron Says:

    I just tried Google scholar for the first time yesterday, and I’ve already started using it routinely for finding papers (I found myself doing this today). Even before today, I rarely used CiteSeer very much because it is very, very slow. Also, the search pages are somewhat hard to read, and it’s hard to make very specific searches unless you know what you’re doing (and I don’t).

    Moreover, the citation indexing already seems to be much more accurate at Google Scholar. For grant proposals (and ego-surfing) I need to say how many papers cite my papers, and Google scholar gives much higher numbers — sounds much better on a proposal. It found a lot of papers that cite my papers that I didn’t previously know about.

    Additionally, Google Scholar is meant to archive all scholarly articles, not just computer science.

  9. Jesper Says:

    If I understand the CiteSeer submission guidelines correctly, it only accepts documents in PDF and PS format – not HTML.
    Not very web-friendly, and this certainly limits the scope of searches. Hence a market for Google scholar.

  10. Dennis G. Jerz Says:

    I posted a long review of Google Scholar the other day… if you’re interested, the URL is
    (or click on my name).

  11. noah Says:

    I was amused by this entry in Google Scholar:

    grandtextauto. org
    B Up, B Down, AN Awards, WH Is – Cached
    Continuing the theme of AI systems that use language: here’s a new paper by Rob
    Zubek at Northwestern, who has been thinking hard about how to make robust, …

Powered by WordPress