Lot of professors and lectures suggest students to use only databases for searching academic papers, because they are sure that databases are only reliable academic literature sources. They don’t accept overall web search engines, because information that can be found there is not scientific only, however, the most popular web search engine Google has special search section for academic literature – Google Scholar. Is it as good as any academic database or that is just narrower version of whole search engine?
By definition Google Scholar is a search engine of full text or abstract of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats, not an academic database. Despite that, in Google Scholar it is possible to find academic journals, articles, conference materials, technical reports etc. This search engine consists of more than 200 millions academic documents from witch at least 85% is in English language. So there is a pretty big possibility to find some good academic literature on any topic.
As it is not an academic database there is no charge for usage of it. Anyone can use Google Scholar for fee, which is a huge benefit comparing to real databases. If university doesn’t have subscription of many useful databases, than Google Scholar is a great option.
Google Scholar also has more developed ranking system. Most of the databases offer to rank by one criterion, for example key words, author, publication date etc., Google Scholar has combined ranking algorithm that allows finding the most suitable documents by many criteria. That means user of this search engine can save a lot of time on literature selection, because the first results are usually the most suitable.
So by all that we can say Google Scholar is at least as good as any academic database. Some searchers even claim that, in terms of amount of documents, it can be compared to the most popular databases such as Scopus, Web of Science, EBSCO etc. So if the Google Scholar has so many benefits, why professors and lectures don’t want students to use it?
The main reason it that this search engine can’t provide quality, only quantity. They try to get articles from as many journals as possible, so they don’t sort them. By using Google Scholar you might get some unscientific information. These pseudo-science journals prevent Google Scholar to become reliable academic database.
So in the conclusion we can say that Google Scholar is not fully fledged database, but it can be used for academic works. If you are able to evaluate all search results and distinguish reliable literature sources form unreliable, then there shouldn’t be any problems with search results.