Thursday, November 18, 2004

Google Scholar: Prepping for Open Access?

Another exciting introduction from Google today, Google Scholar provides a window into the world of scholarly publishing. Gary Price's ResourceShelf reviews the specialized search tool and adds some good context regarding how Google Scholar supplements resources that already exist to search for scholarly publications. In a nutshell, Google Scholar crawls Websites that it deems "scholarly" and also crawls some of the "invisible Web" through special arrangements with publishers and aggregators to deliver abstracts of premium content that was previously only available to registered users or paying subscribers. Results are ranked by number of citations. In most cases, when users click through on for-fee content, they find an abstract and offers for ordering the article or subscribing to the premium service.

At this early stage, Google Scholar's business model isn't apparent. However, Google does state in the FAQ that Google "does not receive compensation if you decide to buy a subscription to a journal or access a particular article." That leaves advertising as the source of revenue, which fits right in with Google's recent history and mission. The FAQ also humbly suggests that Google "recognize[s] the debt we owe to all those in academia whose work has made Google itself a reality...". Keep in mind, however, that there is a commercial goal, too. As more and more scholarly publications become available on an open access basis, Google is paving the way to include a huge collection of content in its network--content that can be monetized through search advertising and AdSense contextual advertising. With Google Scholar, Google has already done much of its homework in prepping for advances in open access.
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