Thursday, 6 June 2013

Search Engine for Research

Google is great for our everyday life's search query. However, when it comes to searching for research related papers, it is probably not the first tool you would like to use. In this post, I am going to introduce you to 3 search tools that is great for searching paper.

The 3 search tools that I recommend are listed from my most preferred to the least preferred as follows:
  1. Google Scholar - Although Google is not good when it comes to searching for research related paper, Google Scholar is absolutely great at "understanding what you want". It shows the number of citations of a paper, making a valuable information for new researchers (like grad students) to quickly determine how important the paper is. Furthermore, Google Scholar has a large collections of paper that no other research search engine can compete against. Even better, Google Scholar can be linked to your university library (at least University of Toronto has it). This means that you can search papers on Google Scholar and, if your university has it, it has link that redirects to the URL of the paper. The downside is sometimes topics from other area will show up in the search but you have no way of specifying your research area.
  2. IEEE Xplore - Xplore search engine focuses on the relevance of the keyword. Furthermore, it also shows the number of citations of a paper. However, those citations are all located in IEEE Xplore and it will not count any citations outside of Xplore. Xplore is unique due to the ability to search within certain topics, journals or conferences. This is the fastest way to filter out irrelevant papers. The downside is only IEEE-related paper can be found in Xplore. It turns out that there are many important papers that are not published in Xplore.
  3. University Library Search Engine (ULSE) - ULSE typically have a good amount of papers. Also, some ULSE, like UofT's, allows people to filter the papers based on the area of their interest. Unfortunately, the search algorithm that is used by ULSE are relatively naive and there is no way to see how important a particular paper is.
Therefore, my final conclusion is Google Scholar is still the top choice. Nonetheless, Google Scholar still has much room for improvement. If you know of any other research paper search engine, please let me know.

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