Finding Chemistry Information Using Google Scholar: A Comparison with Chemical Abstracts Service

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University Libraries


Chemical Abstracts Service, Google Scholar, Literature searching


Since its introduction in November 2004, Google Scholar has been the subject of considerable discussion among librarians. Though there has been much concern about the lack of transparency of the product, there has been relatively little direct comparison between Google Scholar and traditional library resources. This study compares Google Scholar and Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) as resources for finding chemistry information. Of the 702 records found in six different searches, 65.1% were in Google Scholar and 45.1% were in CAS. Of these, 55.0% were unique to Google Scholar, 34.9% were unique to CAS, and 10.1% overlapped. When each record found was searched by title in the two databases, the figures change, with 79.5% in Google Scholar, 85.6% in CAS, and 65.1% overlapping. Based on this, researchers are more likely to find known published information through CAS than in Google Scholar. Results vary by type of search, type of resource, and date. For many types of searching, CAS performs significantly better than Google Scholar. This is especially true for searches on compounds or a personal name, both of which take advantage of advanced search features in CAS. For simple keyword searches, Google Scholar tends to perform better, most probably because Google Scholar searches through the full text of journal articles, while a keyword search through CAS only finds abstract and index terms.

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