it helps to understand how discovery tools work. Libraries make large investments in different kinds of content, such as their subscriptions to databases of scholarly articles, or the books that fill their local catalogs. The new breed of search software hinges on building "a very large, consolidated index that represents all of those things," says Marshall Breeding, a consultant who specializes in library technology. Vendors of discovery tools will make deals with providers that sell content to libraries, he says, so that content can be represented in the discovery tools’ indexes and made available for search. (Beyond products from Ebsco and ProQuest, other major tools in this genre, known as "web scale" or "index based" discovery, include Primo, from Ex Libris, and WorldCat Discovery Services, from OCLC.)
Bias toward a content provider, he says, "would be commercial suicide for any discovery vendor."
Mr. Brooks points out, however, that Ebsco makes design choices about article relevance that may seem like bias, yet actually have nothing to do with content providers. For example, a university that uses Ebsco’s search tool, he says, will find that "a two-sentence news blurb will lose to a four-page, peer-reviewed article.
Mr. Asher’s experiment discovered that default settings of the tools had a major effect on what resources students chose. Working with Google Scholar, which is integrated with Google Books, students used more books. With Summon, they used a lot of shorter newspaper and magazine articles. With Ebsco Discovery Service, they used more journals, which meant they scored highest under the study’s rating rubric. (In a blog post responding to Mr. Asher’s study, ProQuest said the methodology "inadvertently penalized" Summon, its product.)
Only about 20 percent of faculty members begin research at their libraries’ online catalogs, according to a 2012 survey by Ithaka S+R. And while undergraduates, in particular, enjoy the new one-stop discovery tools, others emphasize that specialized databases remain important for serious scholarship.
Mr. Asher is familiar with the criticisms of Google Scholar. After all, his own study listed them: "limited advanced search functionality, incomplete or inaccurate metadata, inflated citation counts, lack of usage statistics, and inconsistent coverage across disciplines." Perhaps for this reason, he sounded a bit sheepish admitting his preference.
"I kind of hate to say it, since I am a librarian," he says. "We pay a lot of money for discovery tools. And then I go off and just use Google Scholar."
Alain Marois's Public Lists (18)
- Bibliothèques sur Facebook : guidelines, analyses et outils
- Community Management, non, vraiment ?
- Defrosting Bibliographic Management : tools to parse, convert, aggregate, manage and share bibliographic citations
- Digitallibrary tools - Outils pour bibliothèques numériques
- Higher education and social media - exemples
- Higher education, Libraries and use of social media : news, howto, guidelines
- Identité numérique du chercheur et doctorant
- Lecture numérique et services sur terminaux mobiles en BU
- Libraries web sites : structure, ergonomy
- Libraries2.0 and social media : Twitter et Facebook - exemples
- Maker librarian : Makerspaces, hacking, DIY numérique en bibliothèques
- Médiation et valorisation des ressources des BU
- Penser, du moins essayer
- Photothèques et gestion d'image : exemples, outils, méthodes
- Science, research and SocialMedia : exemples, tools, from e-science to science2.0
- Services aux chercheurs - Researchers and librairies
- Valorsation des thèses et de mémoires d'élèves : numérisation de thèses, dépôts de travaux d'élèves
- Veille technologique et IST pour l'ingénieur