How Google Scholar Citations passes the competition left and right

Google Scholar logoLast Thursday Google Scholar Citations went public. It was to be expected. Since August the product has been tested by a few (blogging) scientists. We only had to wait patiently for it to be released to all scientists. Last Thursday the moment was there.

Was it worth the wait? Yes it certainly was. Google Scholar Citations really excels at finding publications you completely forgot about. But even then, there are still –obscure- publications that even Google Scholar doesn’t know about. You simply log in and deselect those few publications that don’t belong to you. You can make searches to find publications that Google has overlooked. You get a comprehensive publication list quite quickly. Well when your name is not too common, that is. How it works for very common names, Korean scientists jump to my mind as well as John Smith, I don’t know yet. But so far nothing new, Ann-Will Harzing’s excellent Publish or Perish software already did this. What is new is the fact that Google Scholar Citations keeps the citations and publications automatically up to data and allows you to publish your own publication list on the Web with the citations and some crude citations metrics.

The two major competitors in this arena are Thomson Reuters with their ResearcherID and Elsevier’s Scopus which has their Scopus ID. With both services you can identify your own publications and assign them to a unique number. IN this way you can create your unique publications list with citation metrics as well. The main disadvantage compared to Google Scholar is their rather limited resource set. Thomson Reuters WoS “only” covers some 10,000 scholarly journals a set of selected proceedings and of recent only 30,000 books. Scopus has nearly double the number of journals but stays behind in proceedings and covers hardly any books. Google Scholar certainly covers more, but we still don’t understand what is included and what not and sometimes have our doubts about currentness of Google Scholar. The larger resource base, including books and book chapters, of Google Scholar makes will make this service more attractive for social scientist and scholars in arts and humanities studies.

On top of the smaller publication base on which these services are based, these two competitors each have their own particular disadvantage as well. You have to maintain you publications list in Thomson Reuters Researcher ID yourself manually. Each time you publish a new article, you have to add it to your profile yourself. Looking around, I see that most researchers are a bit sloppy in this respect. You can however, make your publication list and the citation impact publically available. see for example my meagre list. Scopus on the other hand, maintains your publication list automatically (albeit it made some serious mistakes in this area in the past, but they seem to have improved this service). But, and this is a big but, you can’t publish you properly curated publication list with citations publically on the Web. They used to have 2Collab for this, but since they stopped 2Collab they haven’t come up with an alternative mechanism to publish your publications list with citation impact on a public website. A real pity.

So Google Scholar easily beats ResearcherID since it updates automatically and Scopus ID because you can make your list with citations publically available. To make your publication list openly available is really recommended to all scientists, it helps your personal branding.

Certainly there are disadvantages to Google Scholar aswell. The most serious at this moment all kind of ghost citations. If you look at the citations to our bibliometrics analysis on top of repositories paper, Google counts three citations. But checking the Leydesdorff citations, a reference to our article is not to be found (of course it should have been there, but it isn’t). 0xDE reported a spam account in the name of Peter Taylor, where they collected various Taylors in a single profile boasting an h-index of 94. That Google Scholar can be fooled has been reported Beel & Grip (2010).

When I was interviewed for our university paper on Google Scholar Citations (in Dutch) I told them: Google Scholar is only about five years old. Give them another five years and they will have changed the market for abstracting and indexing database totally. If only 20 percent of all scientists make their publication lists correct (also editing of the references which can be done to improve the mistakes Google has made) even without making them publically available, Google sits on a treasure trove of high quality metadata. Really interesting to see how this story will develop.

Joeran Beel and Bela Gipp. Academic search engine spam and google scholar’s resilience against it. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 13(3), December 2010.

Journals changing publisher, but can the rights change as well?

Journal cover Animal ConservationFrom a perspective as a repository manager I do like the Cambridge University Press journals a lot. Albeit no immediate OA, after a year the author is allowed to post the publisher’s version/PDF of his article in an institutional repository. We adhere to this policy on behalf of our authors. So we post all the publications in Cambridge journal articles to our repository after this 12 month embargo period. Sounds simple and it actually is that simple.

Recently I ran a check on this policy using the DOI’s, rather than the ISSN’s we normally use, on the metadata we collect of all our researcher’s publications. The DOI string of Cambridge journal articles all start with the prefix 10.1017. I came across an article published in the journal Animal Conservation from 2004 which was not OA on our repository. Further checking this article I found out that the DOI of the article resolved to the Wiley Online library, where the article came online only in 2006, instead of the Cambridge website. Rather odd. Checking the copyright and archiving policy of this journal at the Sherpa Romeo site, they referred to the rather limited Wiley copyrights and self archiving possibilities for this journal. Sherpa Romeo implies that this is applicable for all content of this journal. I was rather disappointed.

However, that Cambridge DOI bothered me, so I checked the Cambridge site for the journal and could find the article there as well. The DOI however, resolves to the Wiley online journals site. Clearly the journal changed from publisher, that happens all the time. But on changing from publisher it appears that the authors’ copyrights changed as well. Especially since the Wiley site also hosts the complete backfile going back to Volume 1, issue 1. That the authors self archiving rights changed on change of publisher for the journal can’t be the case because they’re based on the original publishing agreement, but the Wiley site and Sherpa Romeo do imply that the Wiley copyright and self archiving policies apply to all content of the journal. That can’t be true, can it? But here I have an article hosted at two publishers websites with two very different self archiving policies.

Of course we adhere to the Cambridge self archiving policy for this article. There is therefore now a third copy copy of this article available on the Web, proudly presented in Wageningen Yield.

These are strange ways of publishers and copyrights.