Google Scholar Juice

There is a somewhat cryptic note about how Google Scholar is now ranking results over on the Official Google Blog. It says the search engine is now ranking results in a different way, noting that:

It’s not just a plain sort by date, but rather we try to rank recent papers the way researchers do, by looking at the prominence of the author’s and journal’s previous papers, how many citations it already has, when it was written, and so on.

This strikes me as a good thing but I wish they would share that ranking algorithm. I recognize that they are probably looking to patent it (ugh!), but there’s a tradition in the academic community about being a bit transparent about such things, so I hope that if not now, at least eventually they will share more details about how, exactly they are doing their ranking.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted 4/20/2006 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like they might be using something similar to the original PageRank algorithm, which borrowed heavily from the concept of academic citations:

    http://dbpubs.stanford.edu:8090/pub/1999-66

  2. Posted 4/20/2006 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Esoos: I suspect you are right, but as with the version of PageRank used on “regular” Google, the devil is in the details. That is, PageRank took impact factors of impact factors. If that is what they are doing here, cool, but that should be easy to say, no?

  3. Posted 4/20/2006 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    True, it’s probably a bit more complicated than I first assumed.

    I’m guessing that this could be a test case for rolling out this feature in other areas of Google Search. Letting people in on the algo for Google Scholar wouldn’t be a big risk, but if they’re planning on adding a similar feature to the main search results, then they’d open themselves up to a heavy spam onslaught if they revealed too much.

  4. Gary
    Posted 4/22/2006 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Well, if they do patent it, then it will certainly be transparent and published to the world; that’s how patents work.

  5. Posted 4/22/2006 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Yes, if they eventually (what’s the average time to process patent these days? 6 months? a year?) do patent it, it will be open to the world. But in the meantime, it is to their advantage to keep it closed. As with the implementation of PageRank, the particulars will remain secret in order to keep one step ahead of the SEO crowd. Though for academic search, that seems a bit superfluous.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By affordance.info on 4/20/2006 at 2:34 pm

    L’académie contre-attaque…

    Comme le veut l’usage dans le (tout) petit monde des outils de recherche, chaque nouvelle incursion d’un concurrent en des terres réservées à l’autre déclenche inévitablement une riposte en termes de services. Ainsi, le lancement récent de WLA…

  2. By at Imaginary magnitude on 4/21/2006 at 6:44 pm

    […] Alex Halavais writes. How very true; science ought to be about openness, many times it is not. […]

  3. By SIVACRACY.NET on 4/24/2006 at 7:12 am

    More Google Mysteries (or, why librarians are still essential)…

    Alex Halavais reports: There is a somewhat cryptic note about how Google Scholar is now ranking results over on the Official Google Blog. It says the search engine is now ranking results in a different way, noting that: It’s not just a plain sort by …

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