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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Google Scholar versus Web of Science

Web of Science (WoS) is the de facto standard for citation information. It's citation counts are used for many purposes, among which to decide I am a good scientist. Web of Science, however, really expensive, and Joe the Plumber does not have access. No wonder, he doesn't know which scientist to trust (...).

Recently, Google made their Scholar product open to all, allowing you to list your publications (about my list), which Google with augment with citation counts. If you search the web, you'll find much being said about the two, in particular compared with each other. One aspect is the accurateness of the citation counts, as people are afraid gaming, and random noise found on the web. Others would (counter)argue that Google captures a wider range of literature.

So, I was wondering how this would reflect on my impact. I know that WoS is not errorless either, and I have been making various support requests over the years (my WoS records still have errors). So, do they complement overlap? Are citation counts comparable. In fact, this turns out to be true:

I would be drooling if I got this kind of regression in my nanoQSAR studies! :) There is a very strong regression, indeed. One of the advantages of Google Scholar is does not select an elite group of journals (of course, they have to, because there data analysis process involves much more human curation), while Scholar captures newer Open Access journals, like the J. Cheminformatics, too. While I may be a bit of a non-typical scientist (some even argue I am not even doing science...), the overall outcome is that Google Scholar is actually more accurate about my impact than Web of Science is right now.