In the six months since the launch of the beta version of Google Scholar, librarians have been pondering its impact and benefits for their users. Though widely perceived as a potentially helpful resource for academic research, Google Scholar still provokes questions about the scope of the content it includes and the lack of control over what version of a content item will be linked.
The latter issue, often called the “appropriate copy problem,” involves ensuring an information discovery resource leads users to the version of a resource to which they are entitled. For example, it’s not a good thing when a user is led to a copy a good thing when a user is led to a copy of an article from Publisher A, when the user’s library subscribes to the copy from Publisher B.
But there may be solution: An OpenURL-based framework--through the use of a link resolver programmed with data on a library’s subscriptions—works to direct a library’s users to proper versions.
The initial version of Google Scholar provided links to scholarly content without regard to this important version question. Subsequent improvements have been implemented; the upgrades take advantage of a local link resolver to improve the likelihood users will be directed to the appropriate copy of each resource. In the last month, both Ex Libris and Innovative Interfaces have announced capabilities to interface their link resolvers with Google Scholar.
Ex Libris now offers a tool that allows a library with an SFX link server to register with Google Scholar, so its users will see links customized to its subscriptions. Once registered, a list of the library’s holdings can be exported so its users will see links to view full text when it’s available.
Ex Libris also offers a free service, ScholarSFX, for libraries that are not SFX customers; it provides much of the some functionality without the use of a local link resolver.
Innovative Interfaces is also developing the capability for users of its Millennium automation system and WebBridge linking tool to view the appropriate copy of the full text of articles in Google Scholar. Through the combination of WebBridge linking and the export of holdings data out of the library’s Millennium system into Google Scholar, library users will see the WebBridge button that will take them to the full text when it’s available. Innovative has partnered with Michigan State University to develop this capability.
And as early as January 2005, Openly Informatics, the developer of the 1Cate link resolver, released a plug-in to the FireFox Web browser that adds OpenURL linking capability as users access resources through Google Scholar. Called the “OpenURL Referrer,” this Open Source FireFox extension is freely available and works with any OpenURL compliant link resolver.