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October 30, 2006

Google not just bigger, but better?

An interesting little experiment by Andy Powell shows that Google can be just as good for finding particular academic papers as specialized repository searches.

We frequently here assertions like:

It is well known that a simple full-text search of the whole web will turn up thousands upon thousands of junk results, with the valuable nuggets of information often being lost in the sheer number of results.

So its nice to see an example here testing that assertion - and breaking it: Google pushed the academic papers to the top of the results stack (further up, in some cases, than a specialized restricted search service) rather than burying them in trash.

The implication I think is obvious - if you want to find a paper, use Google. If you want someone to find your paper, make sure wherever you put it (website, blog, ePrints archive, repository...) can be crawled by Google AS THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION. As Andy puts it "full text indexing clearly works".

So what does that mean for educational resources, as opposed to academic papers? And what does it mean for our rapidly expanding array of specialized repositories in the education sector?

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