Some of the most well-known, comprehensive and respected reviews of reference books and databases reviews come from Dr. Pete Jacso, a library science professor at the University of Hawaii. I've been reading and learning from Peter's work since my very first days of library school. He currently writes for several sites and publications including two in-depth reviews posted on the Gale.com site each month.
I thought some of you might find his latest in-depth review of Google Scholar worth a look.
Here's a sample of what you'll read:
Google Scholar still does not reveal any of the essential facts about the content, composition, source coverage and time span of its database. Nor does it exploit the wealth offered by the hundred of millions of well-structured metadata-rich scholarly articles that publishers happily made available to its crawlers. Its search engine often returns inflated and strange hit numbers and citedness scores; does not offer elementary search options for scholarly research; and presents the search results in a discombobulating format, such as mistaking citing journal for cited journal, citing year for cited year and chapter titles for author names. Its biggest advantage is that it is free, and can find free versions of many scholarly papers. This is great for the have-nots or individuals not affiliated with an academic library. However, librarians and scholars should not ditch the competently designed academic databases that they have purchased.
Btw, Dr. Jacso notes that Google Scholar is, "great for the have-nots or individuals not affiliated with an academic library." True. However, even if you're not affiliated with an academic library, you likely have free access to some of the specialized databases he's talking about. Here's a recent look at what some public libraries around the world make available, 24x7x365, for their patrons without having to visit the library.
Also, I'm glad to see that Dr. Jacso includes a mention of the freely acessible of two focused databases that have been around for many years.
"Scholarly" business material from the open web
Computer science, telecommunications, and related material from the open web. Citeseer has been available for more than five years.
Finally, Dr. Jacso's second review this month sings the praises of the HighWire Press Archive (preview version), where almost one million full text scholarly articles (from over 200 publishers) are available for free. Jacso writes, "HighWire Press shows an awesome fusion of quality and quantity, enhanced by links to citing articles from within the HighWire archive. Maybe it should be called HighWire Scholar."