Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Google Scholar

Google recently introduced Google Scholar, a search engine designed to find articles, preprints, books, chapters, gray literature, and other scholarly sources while filtering out those sites we often associate with the dark side of the web: Mrs. Carbunkle’s eighth-grade classroom, photos of your in-laws 2001 Alaskan vacation, a live web-cam of someone named Candee…

We have been reading a lot of spin about Google Scholar—both the pros and the cons—and have concluded that it is OK for rudimentary research but inappropriate for higher-level scholarship.

Here is a quick rundown of the pros and cons of Google Scholar as well as a few pointers on how to use it effectively.

What’s good:

• It’s easy and convenient. Google has applied its famous search mechanism that sorts results based on relevance as opposed to date. This means that the first articles in any search may be seminal.
• It includes prepubs and gray literature. (Students will need guidance on how to read citations and how to determine when such material is acceptable.)
• One of the best features is citation searching: there is a simple link to articles that cite the original! See this entry on Jim Costa (WCU Biology professor) for an example.

What’s not so good:

• It’s Beta. This means that, while not quite ready for prime time, the public is encouraged to use it and make comments in order to improve it. There are contact links on their information pages, so tell them what you think!
• It is not comprehensive.
• The results can include non-scholarly items such as books by Stephen King.
• There are lots of broken links.
• Google won’t say what journals, topics, or publication dates are covered.
• It is geared to expert searchers who can tell a book citation from an article citation from a gray literature citation. However, students will turn in whatever they find because they found it on Google Scholar.
• The basic web search mechanism is unsophisticated: there is no field searching, no date limiters, no controlled vocabularies—in short, none of those features that make library databases so great.

• Keep looking. SPORT Discus, the preeminent database for all aspects of sports, has 1224 citations specifically about soccer injuries. Google Scholar has 3380 citations that mention both “soccer” and “injuries.” Many are outstanding and many are irrelevant. The same is true in other academic fields.
• Don’t pay for anything! WCU students, faculty, and staff can use Hunter Library to obtain research materials. We’re fast, free, and friendly.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Live Webcast: Libraries and Digital Mapping in the 21st Century

Thursday, January 27, 3:00 p.m., Hunter Library Conference Room

Learn how research libraries are incorporating GIS and geospatial data into their service offerings in a special Webcast cosponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and ESRI on Thursday, January 27, 2005.

The Webcast, Libraries and Digital Mapping in the 21st Century, features speakers from three research libraries who will discuss topics such as library service models for GIS and working with GIS metadata to help users find appropriate spatial data.

The intended audience for this Webcast is librarians who want to stay current with developments in digital mapping services (particularly those who work with faculty and researchers) and library administrators interested in developing or growing GIS library services.

Audience members can participate through a live Q&A session during the Webcast.

Contact Anita Oser for further details.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Reception for Faculty & Staff Exhibition

Reception for the WCU Faculty & Staff Exhibition of Publications & Creative Works from 2004

Hunter Library
Tuesday, January 25
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Please join us!

2004 Tax Forms Available

Federal and North Carolina tax forms for 2004 are now available to download.


North Carolina: