Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Google Scholar: An accessible resource

It is the philosophy of AccessAbility that a truly good and useful resource is one that is readily accessible to all users. It is this aspect that makes
Google Scholar
A good and useful resource for students with disabilities.

Of course, the name Google tells you the power behind the technology that is providing the service. Now, the Google folks have taken their search capabilities and web savvy, applying them to scholarly literature.

One more aspect of accessibility that this database offers is that any computer can access it. Users are not restricted to only using the computers in the campus library nor do they have to be using a computer that is part of the campus network, as is required by many subscription databases that some schools use. Being that Google Scholar is web-based, they can search scholarly research from any computer with internet access. This gives users of assistive technology the ability to do independent searches of the wide compendium of archived work this powerful database offers. There is no longer the need to find somebody to assist in using the restricted campus computers that do not have assistive technology.

As a former university student who often experienced access difficulty when researching scholarly literature at the college libraries, I applaud this move by the 800-pound gorilla of the information age. I wish this technology had been around when I was working on those many research papers that were required for my classes.

The Google Scholar web site offers the following description of the services it provides:

What is Google Scholar?
“Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant research across the world of scholarly research.”

Features of Google Scholar
“• Search diverse sources from one convenient place
• Find papers, abstracts and citations
• Locate the complete paper through your library or on the web
• Learn about key papers in any area of research”

How are articles ranked?
“Google Scholar aims to sort articles the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each article, the author, the publication in which the article appears, and how often the piece has been cited in other scholarly literature. The most relevant results will always appear on the first page.”

Now, as with any other resource, don’t keep Google Scholar to yourself. Share it with others who need it as well.

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