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Suitability of Google Scholar as a source of scientific information and as a source of data for scientific evaluation—Review of the Literature

Gali Halevi, Henk Moed and Judit Bar-Ilan

Journal of Informetrics, 2017, vol. 11, issue 3, 823-834

Abstract: As Google Scholar (GS) gains more ground as free scholarly literature retrieval source it’s becoming important to understand its quality and reliability in terms of scope and content. Studies comparing GS to controlled databases such as Scopus, Web of Science (WOS) and others have been published almost since GS inception. These studies focus on its coverage, quality and ability to replace controlled databases as a source of reliable scientific literature. In addition, GS introduction of citations tracking and journal metrics have spurred a body of literature focusing on its ability to produce reliable metrics. In this article we aimed to review some studies in these areas in an effort to provide insights into GS ability to replace controlled databases in various subject areas. We reviewed 91 comparative articles from 2005 until 2016 which compared GS to various databases and especially Web of Science (WOS) and Scopus in an effort to determine whether GS can be used as a suitable source of scientific information and as a source of data for scientific evaluation. Our results show that GS has significantly expanded its coverage through the years which makes it a powerful database of scholarly literature. However, the quality of resources indexed and overall policy still remains known. Caution should be exercised when relying on GS for citations and metrics mainly because it can be easily manipulated and its indexing quality still remains a challenge.

Date: 2017
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