Google Scholar and Questia

Written in response to a post by my professor…

I, too, have been using and enjoying Google Scholar. When I initially discovered it, I had an interesting exchange with the Walden Librarians (which I will try to locate and post for the class, though I have since changed machines and did not back up that email where I thought I did). In any case, they were predictably skeptical, conservative, and cautionary in their response… they had only discovered it days before me and had just begun playing with it. At the time they sent me a very thoughtful critique of the tool (which I’ll look for… or see if they can send me again to share with you), in which their greatest concern was Google’s lack of openness about the criteria used to determine whether or not a source is “scholarly” and worthy of being included in the database. Experience seems to show that while some chaff gets through, it is far more efficient that digging through an ordinary google search for academic sources.

Eventually, the Walden Librarians embraced the tool with a simple (and apt) warning about articles which might cost money to access in their entirety.

Also, as with gopher in the early 90s, I am dissapointed in the low number of full text articles available on Google Scholar.

I often share with my fellow students that I have been using very successfully. The Walden Librarians also cautioned that the quality and selection might not be comparable to what we already have access to at Walden, but at least in the case of Educational Technology I have found the selection plentiful and extremely current. Early on they cautioned that it was “an undergraduate resource” but have since backed off of that stance as well and accepted it as another resources students can choose to have access to. I have found the cost ($119/year when I signed up) to be a reasonable trade off for access to tens of thousands of relevant volumes, all searchable and cut-and-paste-able, from my desk.