Perhaps at some point I'll write a thread on my deep concerns about our reliance on Google Scholar.

For now, though, why on earth does Google Scholar not let you sort your search results?

You have basically one choice: to see them in "relevance" order—and we're not even told the secret formula used to determine relevance.

You can also sort by date—for papers from the past year only.

It's really crazy that a mature tool supposedly designed to serve the community would be severely limited.

I would really love to hear an official explanation from the people at Google Scholar for why the product is kneecapped thusly.

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“Why don’t we, the academic community, just build our own citation database / academic search tool?”

It has been a decade since I have worked in this space, some of what I am about to write may be out of date if not outright misremembered. That said, access to the primary sources is a massive and perhaps insurmountable obstacle.

Back then, you couldn’t even get the citation graph. I think this may have improved. But if you want full academic search, you need full text of the documents.

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Publishers won’t necessarily share even the full abstracts, let alone full text. Obviously open access gets you part of the way, but only part of the way.

Google, on the other hand, has legacy agreements for access to the full text that is invaluable for scientific search. I don’t know who else has the leverage to obtain such, especially not now that Elsevier has entered that market with their own Scopus database.

It leaves us in a huge bind.

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Hopefully someone else can fill in the details but if I remember correctly, 20 or 25 years back there was a short-lived plan to create a federally-funded citation database along the lines of the Web of Science.

Under fierce lobbying pressure from ISI and other informatics providers, the project was scrapped. We are still presuming for that short-sightedness today.

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@ct_bergstrom do you know about #ConnectedPapers? It's not exactly a Google scholar or web of science replacement but it's a really helpful tool.tonfind new and old papers.

@NikaShilobod @Ruth_Mottram @ct_bergstrom The Internet Archive is in on the action these days too.

It's a new service, but their ambitions are big and they're off to a strong start.

@marekmcgann @Ruth_Mottram @ct_bergstrom

Gathering all of these. Good stuff. Excited about my incoming mini project. I gave away my record collection when I moved here. Organizing tools shall suffice. :)


@NikaShilobod @marekmcgann @Ruth_Mottram @ct_bergstrom

I’m following you to cheer you on!

Freshman year at MIT 50 years ago, I struggled (and failed) to index my small personal collection of papers. I’m retired now, but my interest hasn’t waned…

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