Google Scholar helps …. for non-specialist information!
There is plenty of enthusiasm for search engines like Google from researchers and the general public alike.
Google and Google Scholar are well-known for the wide breadth of the information they search. Google brings in news, factual and opinion-related information, and Google Scholar also emphasises scientific content across many disciplines.
But do these search tools give as comprehensive a picture of a particular research field as a specialist database?
This is the question that the team behind the specialised scientific database on energy-related information, ETDEWEB (the Energy Technology Data Exchange – World Energy Base) set out to answer by studying user search results.
The ETDE team compared the results of 15 energy-related queries performed on all three systems – ETDEWEB, Google and Google Scholar – using identical words/phrases.
More than 40,000 search result records from the three sources were evaluated. The study concluded that ETDEWEB is a significant resource to energy experts for discovering relevant energy information. In the 15 searches, nearly 90 per cent of the results in ETDEWEB were not shown by Google or Google Scholar.
Google is certainly a highly-used and valuable tool to find significant ‘non-specialist’ information, and Google Scholar does focus on scientific disciplines.
If a user’s interest is scientific and energy-specific, ETDEWEB continues to hold a strong position in the energy research, technology and development (RTD) information field and adds considerable value in knowledge discovery
Cutler, Debbie (ETDE). Database versus search engine. Research Information, Dec. 2010 / Jan. 2011. online: