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Google Scholar: strenghts and weaknesses

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The recent changes (see previous post) is a good news, regarding bad impressions that Google Scholar gave us over the last years.
Here below a reminder of major benefits and flaws.


  • Free!!
  • Ease of use, Google-like, Google reputation (?)
  • Access to full-text article on 1 click
  • GS is the largest search tool ever conceived for searching the web for scholarly information: Millions of documents are ful-text indexed
  • Various content: ebooks, magazines, journals and grey literature, patents, legal documents (US)
  • Cited by »
  • “Related articles” feature, GS presents a list of closely related articles, ranked primarily by how similar these articles are to the original result


  • Secrecy on: Science sources coverage, Updating policies, Search Algorythm, confidentiality
  • Interface is in beta version for 5 years (means a low investment of Google?)
  • « Noise » due to full-text search: time wasted to sort results
  • No possibility to change results display (only by relevance): recent results don’t appear on first results
  • Lack of data for some sources (Wiley-Blackwell journals for instance): no dates, no titles, titles are cut, etc.
  • Lists cannot be exported
  • Inconsistency of results, redundant results
  • Poor indexing: doesn’t handle with meta-data provided by Publishers. when searching articles based on publication dates, GS results are unreliable, even inaccurate. The number of articles found in some searches, for example, increases when limiting to a range of years (ie. 2000-2006) instead of decreases
  • Implausible hits and citedness score in the confusing results display.
  • Thousands of false ‘hits’ for some journals
  • Fatal mistake in the simplest Boolean operation (protein OR proteins)


Giustini, Dean. Google Scholar. UBC Health library wiki, online:

Jacsó P. As we may search – comparison of major features of the Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar citation-based and citation-enhanced databases. Current Science, 2005 Nov 10;89(9), pp. 1537-47.


Written by hbasset

May 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Science 2.0

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