You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Google Scholar’ tag.

I was intrigued to see a couple of pieces of evidence that the number of words used in scholarly searches was showing a steady increase.  Firstly Anurag Acharya from Google Scholar in a presentation at ALPSP back in September entitled “What Happens When Your Library is Worldwide & All Articles Are Easy to Find” (on YouTube) mentions an increase in the average query length to 4-5 words, and continuing to grow.  He also reported that they were seeing multiple concepts and ideas in their search queries.  He also mentions that unlike general Google searches, Google Scholar searches are mostly unique queries.

So I was really interested to see the publication of a set of search data from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia up on Tableau Public.  https://public.tableau.com/profile/justin.kelly#!/vizhome/SwinburneLibrary-Homepagesearchanalysis/SwinburneLibrary-Homepagesearchanalysis The data covers search terms entered into their library website homepage search box at http://www.swinburne.edu.au/library/ which pushes searches to Primo, which is the same approach that we’ve taken.  Included amongst the searches and search volumes was a chart showing the number of words per search growing steadily from between 3 and 4 in 2007 to over 5 in 2015, exactly the same sort of growth being seen by Google Scholar.

Across that time period we’ve seen the rise of discovery systems and new relevancy ranking algorithms.  Maybe there is now an increasing expectation that systems can cope with more complex queries, or is it that users have learnt that systems need a more precise query?  I know from feedback from our own users that they dislike the huge number of results that modern discovery systems can give them, the product of the much larger underlying knowledge bases and perhaps also the result of more ‘sophisticated’ querying techniques.  Maybe the increased number of search terms is user reaction and an attempt to get a more refined set of results, or just a smaller set of results.

It’s also interesting for me to think that with discovery systems libraries have been trying to move towards ‘Google’-like search systems – single, simple search boxes, with relevancy ranking that surfaces the potentially most useful results at the top. Because this is what users were telling us that they wanted.  But Google have noticed that users didn’t like to get millions of results, so they increasingly seem to hide the ‘long-tail’ of results.  So libraries and discovery systems might be one step behind again?

So it’s area for us to look at our search queries to see if we have a similar pattern either in the searches that go through the search box on the homepage of the library website, or from the searches that go into our Discovery system.  We’ve just got access to Primo Analytics using Oracle Business Intelligence and one of the reports covers popular searches back to the start of 2015.  So looking at some of the data and excluding searches that seem to be ISBN searches or single letter searches and then restricting it down to queries that have been seen more than fifty times (which may well introduce its own bias) gives the following pattern of words in search queries:

Search query length - OU Primo Jan - Oct 2015 - queries seen more than 50 timesJust under 31,000 searches, with one word searches being the most common and then a relatively straightforward sequence reducing the longer the search query.  But with one spike around 8 words and with an overall average word length of 2.4 words per query.  A lot lower than the examples from Swinburne or Google Scholar.  Is it because it is a smaller set or incomplete, or because it concentrates on the queries seen more than 50 times?  Are less frequently seen queries likely to be longer by definition?  Some areas to investigate further

 

One of the different elements of working in an academic library as opposed to a public library is that writing an article to be published in a proper ‘academic’ journal becomes more likely.  It becomes something you might do whereas in the past it wouldn’t have been something I would have particularly considered.  Articles for ‘trade’ publications maybe, possibily in one of the library technology journals perhaps.  But not something that was particularly high up on the list of things to do.

As an aside I’ve felt that the importance of journals (or serials) is one of the biggest differences between public and academic libraries.  The whole journal infrastructure (both technical and publishing aspects) weren’t ever particularly prominent in the agenda of a public library.   It’s interesting though to find that there’s now a pilot to provide public walk-in access to academic journals through public libraries.   I will be fascinated to see how that pilot turns out as my experience in public libraries was that we rarely had any demand for widespread academic journal access over and above the odd inter-library loan article request.  So it will be interesting to see what demand they see and how it might be promoted to build up an audience for this material.  My suspicion has long been that the reason for the lack of demand was that library users simply didn’t have an expectation that it might be possible.

Going through the publication process for an article (even as a co-author) has been a useful experience in helping me understand more about the publishing process that academics have to go through as part of their professional life.  Faced with the practical decisions about whether to go open access and pay an article processing charge (APC), or publish in a subscription journal (a choice between author pays or customer pays) throws a sharp focus on the practical implications of Green or Gold and Open Access.  Getting a copy of an early version of the document into the institutional repository was another task that had to be included.

It’s been interesting to see how the focus on publication swiftly turns to a list of things to do to promote the article, such as setup your identity on Google Scholar and link your publication to it (fascinating for me in that it showed up a report for a project as well as a long forgotten dissertation listed in Worldcat).   But also things to do like establishing an Orcid ID (that put me in mind of LinkedIn for academics for some reason) and then linking your publication to it.  Although the importance of citations was something I’ve been aware of (and I work at one of a few UK academic libraries with a bibliometrician post), it certainly does make you realise how critical it is for an academic’s reputation and how their career depends on their papers being cited when you realise that there are a list of things to do to promote your article.

Twitter posts

Categories

Calendar

February 2020
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
242526272829  

Creative Commons License