Google Scholar and the gray literature: A reply to Bonato’s review
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EC3: Evaluación de la Ciencia y de la Comunicación Científica
Google ScholarGray literatureConference proceedingsGuidelinesAcademic search enginesBibliographic search
Orduña-Malea, E.; Martín-Martín, A.; Delgado López-Cózar, E. Google Scholar and the gray literature: A reply to Bonato’s review. Granada: EC3, 2017. (EC3 Working Papers; 23). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/45069]
Recently, a review concluded that Google Scholar (GS) is not a suitable source of information “for identifying recent conference papers or other gray literature publications”. The goal of this letter is to demonstrate that GS can be an effective tool to search and find gray literature, as long as appropriate search strategies are used. To do this, we took as examples the same two case studies used by the original review, describing first how GS processes original’s search strategies, then proposing alternative search strategies, and finally generalizing each case study to compose a general search procedure aimed at finding gray literature in Google Scholar for two wide selected case studies: a) all contributions belonging to a congress (the ASCO Annual Meeting); and b) indexed guidelines as well as gray literature within medical institutions (National Institutes of Health) and governmental agencies (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). The results confirm that original search strategies were undertrained offering misleading results and erroneous conclusions. Google Scholar lacks many of the advanced search features available in other bibliographic databases (such as Pubmed), however, it is one thing to have a friendly search experience, and quite another to find gray literature. We finally conclude that Google Scholar is a powerful tool for searching gray literature, as long as the users are familiar with all the possibilities it offers as a search engine. Poorly formulated searches will undoubtedly return misleading results.