December 15th, 2009

My Troubles with Google Scholar

I’ll admit it – I’m a total Google Scholar addict. I can’t tell you how often I open up that search page and type in a title or topic. It’s really useful, especially when I get a call from a learner who has only half a citation.

But Google Scholar isn’t without its problem. Professor Peter Jasco has developed quite a reputation in the library world as a cataloger of Google Scholar’s many issues. Very recently many of the Capella Librarians read his November 2009 Library Journal article “Google Scholar’s Ghost Authors.”

It’s an interesting read. Apparently Google Scholar frequently picks random words and indexes them as author names. Password and Subscribe are busy authors in the world of Google Scholar. I thought it would never be more than one of those “good to know” tidbits about information retrival.

But then it happened to ME!

Right there in Google Scholar is the handout from a MN Library Association presentation three Capella Librarians created last spring. Only it gives LA Form as the author, instead of us. LA Form is not that prolific an author, with only one other document to his/her name. And that’s just an application for a graduate program. P Form, on the other hand, is much busier, especially with coauthor R Illustrations.

Example of incorrect author attribution in Google Scholar

Of course, it’s a bit fishy that our handout is even in Google Scholar to begin with, since it’s not actually scholarly.

It just goes to show you that you have to be careful whenever you are doing research. Mistakes are everywhere. You can’t let a computer algorithm replace the evaluative powers of your own brain.

– Erin

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