What if Google killed Scholar?

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How’s that for a dramatic title then?

A few weeks ago, I learned that Google will be indexing ScienceDirect. What that means is that if you are on-campus and search on Google, then you may be able to access our ScienceDirect holdings. Initially, the librarian in me reacted in horror: how dare Google do this?! Users must never, ever use Google, ever! I wondered if I was alone in this thought and put the question to electronic resources librarian colleagues at other institutions, who confirmed that they had reacted in exactly the same way, but had come to realise that as many users will go to Google as a default, then why stand in the way of getting hold of quality academic material. I’m still not entirely convinced, but I am a realist (and user of electronic resources myself) and I have come to appreciate that it’s not a terrible thing to be able to access ScienceDirect material via Google. After all, it’s all in the name of pointing you to the information that you need to complete your assignments, and if you’re getting to quality material, then the route you take is largely arbitrary. Moreover, if you conduct a Google search and end up in ScienceDirect, the chances are you might well stay there, gathering more material and improving your information retrieval skills.

Besides my initial “No, Google, get your hands off my database!” reaction, I also couldn’t quite see how this new initiative was any different to using Google Scholar. Surely Google Scholar does this anyway? Yes, it does. However, there’s a school of thought that suggests that Google Scholar may well be on its way out. I was recommended to read this blog post on the subject, and I would recommend you do the same. No-one has come outright and said that Google Scholar will be a thing of the past, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest this may well be the case one day. Who knows: perhaps ScienceDirect within Google is just the first step in that process.

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