“Why academics and researchers still prefer Google Scholar?”

I was asked this question by someone. Here’s my personal take on this:

We cannot deny the pervasiveness of Google / Google Scholar usage among academics and researchers. One of the enticements of Google Scholar is the simplicity of the search box.  However, if we take a look at Discovery Products such as Summon, EDS, Primo and OCLC’s discovery layers, most of them are intertwined with the library homepages. Most if not all libraries infuse the discovery layer into their search box on their homepage. Compare our library’s Summon Start page: http://koral.summon.serialssolutions.com and our library homepage. Both are using the same Summon ‘search engine’ but different interface. How libraries design their website could have an impact on the use of these discovery layers. Another factor: How well are they marketing their ‘product’? This may sway their preferences of using Google Scholar than Discovery layers.

Coming back to the question: why academics and researchers still prefer Google Scholar? Are we referring this on a general basis or specifically our university academic and research community? Also, we need to categorize them (acad and research into the various subjects: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences). There was a study by Ithaka that showed humanities group uses the library website more often compared to the Soc Sciences and Sciences. Turn the tables around, Humanities uses less search engine compared to soc sciences and sciences.

chart1

Source:  http://www.sr.ithaka.org/publications/us-library-survey-2016/

Based on my small focus group study on our university community, I noted that there was a mixture of feedback. Some were unaware of the search capability of KORAL (for example the search result facet etc). Some prefer to use to Google Scholar to search because its faster and many are accustomed to this. I had one who thought that KORAL only searches library information. It all depends on one’s preferences. When it’s ingrained in them, it will take an effort to make them move them out of their comfort zone.

Think about MP3 players. They do the same thing but Apple still has a big share.

I conclude that whether its discovery layer, Google Scholar or databases, libraries would need to cater to the various search nuances of our users. We can assist by providing complimentary tools to assist users in achieving their information need. At the end of the day, our users are mostly interested to get their hands on an article, ebook chapter, conference proc, books etc …. We can provide the various platforms.

To give another analogy: User need to get a choc bar at the grocery shop.  There are various options to get it: ask someone to buy for them;  go to the grocery shop either by taking a bus, walking or running or even cycling there and buy it.  The ultimate aim is to get that choc bar.  We cannot force them by using a certain pathway but we can provide them with viable alternatives.

Anyways here are some interesting articles:
http://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/16327/17773
Paths of Discovery: Comparing the Search Effectiveness of EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Google Scholar, and Conventional Library Resources
Excerpt from article:

Table1

Source:  http://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/16327/17773

Check out this report by Ithaka: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/publications/us-library-survey-2016/
US Library Survey 2016 – There’s a section on discovery somewhere near the middle of the article.

“Library directors are increasingly recognizing that discovery does not and should not always happen in the library. Compared to the 2013 survey results, fewer library directors believe that it is important that the library is seen by its users as the first place that they go to discover content, and fewer believe that the library is always the best place for researchers at their institution to start their research. The share of respondents who agree that it is important that the library guide users to a preferred version of a given source continues to decrease.”

Another one: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/wp-content/mig/files/SR_Briefing_Discovery_20140924_0.pdf
Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library? – Ithaka S+R

Your thoughts?

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