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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Google vs. the Library

A Paper in Three Parts on the Topic: Google vs. the Library

Helen Gorgas

Part I: Google vs. the Library: Student Preferences and Perceptions When Doing Research Using Google and a Federated Search Tool

[Abstract: Federated searching was once touted as the library world’s answer to Google, but ten years since federated searching technology’s inception, how does it actually compare? This study focuses on undergraduate student preferences and perceptions when doing research using both Google and a federated search tool. Students were asked about their preferences using each search tool and the perceived relevance of the sources they found using each search tool. Students were also asked to self-assess their online searching skills. The findings show that students believe they possess strong searching skills, are able to find relevant sources using both search tools, but actually prefer the federated search tool to Google for doing research. Thus, despite federated searching’s limitations, students see the need for it, libraries should continue to offer federated search (especially if a discovery search tool is not available), and librarians should focus on teaching students how to use federated search and Google more effectively.] Source:

Part II: Google vs. the Library. Student Search Patterns and Behaviors when Using Google and a Federated Search Tool
[AbstractThis study examines the information-seeking behavior of undergraduate students within a research context. Student searches were recorded while the participants used Google and a library (federated) search tool to find sources (one book, two articles, and one other source of their choosing) for a selected topic. The undergraduates in this study believed themselves to be skilled researchers, but their search queries and behaviors did not support this belief. Students did not examine their topics to identify keywords and related terms. They relied heavily on the language presented to them via the list of research topics and performed natural language or simple keyword or phrase queries. They did not reformulate or refine their research questions or search queries, did not move beyond the first page of results, and did not examine metadata to improve searches. When using Google, students frequently visited commercial sites such as Amazon; content farms such as; and subscription databases such as JSTOR. This study concludes by offering suggestions for search interface improvement and pedagogical opportunities on which librarians may wish to focus or refocus. This article is the second in a series that examines student use of Google and a library (federated) search tool.] Source:

Part III: Google vs. the Library. Assessing the Quality of Sources Found by Undergraduates
[Abstract: This study assesses and compares the quality of sources found by undergraduate students when doing research using both Google and a library (federated) search tool. Thirty undergraduates were asked to find four sources (one book, two articles, and one additional source of their choosing) related to a selected research topic. Students used both Google and a federated search (resource discovery) tool to find material they believed to be relevant. Each source was evaluated for topic relevance, authority, appropriateness, and date, and assigned a total quality score. Results showed that the books found via Google were slightly higher quality than those uncovered via the federated search tool. The articles and additional sources students found via the federated search tool were slightly to moderately higher quality, respectively, than those discovered via Google.] Source:

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