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About Web Resources

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Evaluating Web Pages

  1. Is the page a personal page or site? (Hint: in the URL, look for ~  or  %, or users, members, or people -- these elements may indicate that it's a personal page)
  2. What type of domain is it? (.edu, .com, .gov, .org, .mil, etc.) Is the domain type appropriate for the content?
  3. Who wrote the page? What are their credentials on this subject? (look up the author's name in Google if the site doesn't provide enough information)
  4. Is there an "About" page on the site so you can find out more about the sponsoring person or organization?
  5. Is the page current? Is the information current enough for your purpose?
  6. Why was the page put on the Web? To inform, persuade, sell products, as a satire or parody, or for another reason?
  7. Bottom line: Is this page appropriate for your purpose?

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About Google Scholar

Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) is a subset of Google Web Search; it focuses on scholarly content found on the Internet (including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles). These materials are found on the websites of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.

Most, but not all, content retrieved by a Google Scholar search will be scholarly, and many, but not all, articles in your Google Scholar search results will be peer-reviewed. Google Scholar is not recommended for comprehensive searches of a topic, but is most useful for locating the full text of an article when you already have the article citation.

Connect from off-campus to articles found through Google Scholar.

Note: Google Scholar does not cover all scientific publishers, and many journals indexed by Google Scholar have partial coverage only (some years/volumes missing). Also, not all articles found through Google Scholar will be available online.

Learn more about accessing the full text of an article after you find it through Google Scholar.

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Google/Google Scholar and BIOSIS

Differences in Content

A common misconception about Google Scholar is that all search results from Google Scholar are peer-reviewed. Some are; some are not. Many of the articles found through a Google Scholar search are from peer-reviewed journals; however, other types of material found through a Google Scholar search (book reviews, theses, unpublished preprints of articles) are not.

BIOSIS, on the other hand, includes only peer-reviewed journals.

Google Scholar also does not cover the same universe of published material as BIOSIS. Google Scholar works in the same way as a "normal" Google search; Google's web crawlers collect text from websites to create the Google Scholar database. When you do a search, your terms are matched with the text in that database. Matching results are ranked according to a complex relevance algorithm, and then the ranked results are displayed.

Web crawlers can only collect information from places they're allowed to go. Many fee-based electronic journals and article databases don't allow web crawlers access to their products.

This means that when you're searching Google or Google Scholar for scientific information, you're missing many fee-based peer-reviewed journals that Google Scholar can't search. UC Berkeley pays fees so that you can search these journals using article databases like BIOSIS.

Differences in Searching

Google and Google Scholar's search engines rely exclusively on data harvested by web crawlers. Google adds no human-created content to its databases to make web pages more findable.

BIOSIS employees look at each record and add information to make it more findable. They add subject terms to describe what the article is about, taxonomic terms to indicate what study species are used in the article, and more.

A BIOSIS search doesn't just match your search terms with words in the article; it also matches them with the human-added terms in each record, to help you retrieve more relevant results.

Google and Google Scholar are easy to use, but BIOSIS offers more powerful and precise search options.

Search strategy: Google & Google Scholar BIOSIS
Boolean searching (AND/OR/NOT)? use +/-, Advanced Search Yes
Exact phrase searching? Yes; use quotes Yes; use quotes
Truncation/wildcards (*)? No (but searches for variants automatically) Yes
Indicate order of terms with parentheses? No Yes
Limit search by date range? Yes (inconsistent results) Yes
Limit search by document type? No Yes
Re-sort/analyze results? No Yes

 

Differences in Sorting and Refining Results

Google and BIOSIS share some search features, such as using quotes to search for phrases. However, BIOSIS has more versatility in two important ways: options for sorting your results, and options for refining your results.

Sort by: Google & Google Scholar BIOSIS
Relevance Yes Yes
Publication Date No Yes
Author name No Yes

 

Refine results by: Google & Google Scholar BIOSIS
Date Yes (advanced search) Yes
Language Yes (advanced search) Yes
Author No Yes
Subject No Yes
Journal No Yes
Article Type No Yes
Taxonomic Data No Yes

 

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About Google Books

Google Book Search (books.google.com) searches the full text of millions of books scanned from libraries and publishers worldwide, including some from the University of California libraries. The full text of a book can be displayed only if the book is out of copyright (generally, published before 1923) or if the copyright holder has given permission; otherwise, Google Books will show selected pages or "snippets" where your search terms appear.

Google Books is an excellent tool for searching within the full text of books, which makes it easier to find books on your topic; follow the Find in a library link (on the left sidebar) to find out if the UC Berkeley libraries own the book, and where to find it on campus.

google books screenshot

Not finding what you need? Contact a librarian!
Please visit us at the Reference Desk between 10-12 and 1-5 Monday-Friday, or call us at (510) 642-0456. Or, send us an email. We're here to help!

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Copyright © 2014 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Comment Form. Last update: 11/12/13

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