Friday, 21 September 2018

GoogleScholar: we need a DOI numbers

GoogleScholar is such a great service. I use it all the time for finding academic literature, mainly because is is so much easier to use than academic databases. It is more comprehensive than the databases: I only need to search in one place, rather than in 20. And it's free. And because it's free, it's accessible to everyone who wants - or needs - to search for research papers.

I also like the fact that GoogleScholar shows me what access I've got to articles, providing I have linked GoogleScholar to my libraries (see how to do that here). It is also useful that Google scholar lists what is known as "grey" literature, such as government reports or white papers. It means that we researchers are able to access different information to that we can access if we were solely using academic databases.

However, we shouldn't assume that GoogleScholar gives us everything we need. In research done by Haddaway, Collins, and Kirk (2015), it was found that GoogleScholar often missed key papers. It remains very useful to trawl the key databases and the key journals in our fields.

Further, while GoogleScholar provides APA references, academic author profiles, and lists of author publications, we have to double-check all of these for accuracy. Often APA references are incorrect. Authors can manipulate their own profile information, and the citation value of their articles (Dingemanse, 27 June 2016).

In addition, GoogleScholar doesn't provide DOI numbers. This is becoming more and more of a pain, as it leaves 6th edition APA references incomplete. All APA references, if sourced electronically, need a live link DOI at the end of the entry. As GoogleScholar doesn't provide DOIs, gathering reference information often requires an extra step of having to head off to CrossRef to find our DOI number to backfill our APA references for electronic articles.

While I realise it is probably quite complicated to link DOI numbers with existing article references, it would be terribly useful if Google were able to do this. They would once more become a one stop shop.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found anywhere online where I can give GoogleScholar this helpful hint. If any of you know where I could post feedback about GoogleScholar, I would be most grateful.

However, despite the drawbacks mentioned above, I still feel that GoogleScholar is still the best research database on the planet.


  • Dingemanse, M. (27 June 2016). Some things you need to know about Google Scholar.
  • Haddaway, N. R., Collins, A. M., Coughlin, D., & Kirk, S. (2015). The role of Google Scholar in evidence reviews and its applicability to grey literature searching. PloS One, 10(9), e0138237.

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