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The Benefits and Pitfalls of Google Scholar

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2018

Francesca R. Jensenius
Affiliation:
University of Oslo
Mala Htun
Affiliation:
University of New Mexico
David J. Samuels
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota
David A. Singer
Affiliation:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Adria Lawrence
Affiliation:
Johns Hopkins University
Michael Chwe
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract

Google Scholar (GS) is an important tool that faculty, administrators, and external reviewers use to evaluate the scholarly impact of candidates for jobs, tenure, and promotion. This article highlights both the benefits of GS—including the reliability and consistency of its citation counts and its platform for disseminating scholarship and facilitating networking—and its pitfalls. GS has biases because citation is a social and political process that disadvantages certain groups, including women, younger scholars, scholars in smaller research communities, and scholars opting for risky and innovative work. GS counts also reflect practices of strategic citation that exacerbate existing hierarchies and inequalities. As a result, it is imperative that political scientists incorporate other data sources, especially independent scholarly judgment, when making decisions that are crucial for careers. External reviewers have a unique obligation to offer a reasoned, rigorous, and qualitative assessment of a scholar’s contributions and therefore should not use GS.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2018 

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Footnotes

The † symbol indicates that the authors’ names are in certified random order, as described in Ray and Robson (2018).

References

REFERENCES

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