Scholarship a la Google?

TAs can be very busy people, most are currently working on their MA or PhD theses and don’t always have the time to answer all of their students’ questions, particularly questions that might call for the TA to do a bit of research. Recently I asked for some references, papers or books etc., that argue against a particular position and I haven’t heard back yet; this is where google may come in handy. (This is not, however, a criticism of any TAs that I have or know.)

I am an avid reader of philosophy blogs and this morning I stumbled across a post by Jason Stanley over at Brian Leiter’s site The Leiter Reports: A Group Blog that mentions using google scholar as a tool for academics to ‘assess the relative merits of work in an area’. One way that Jason mentions doing this is to check a citation index and he uses the example of google scholar as an example of a dynamic database that does this and more. The reason for using a citation index is based upon the basic idea that if there are many different sources that cite a particular article, or book, then there must be something worth repeating or criticising in that particular text. While a citation index is certainly relative and cannot explain everything it does provide a cursory example of what work is popular.

Now the problem that I had is not related, particularly, to what work is popular or not but to what people think about certain papers etc. I thought that maybe I could use google scholar to see who is citing etc. the particular paper that I was looking for refutations of. To my delight I received over one thousand ‘hits’ and now have a small database of relevant papers that argue against the position taken in the paper my next essay is based upon.

I hope this small post can help some fellow students with their research and I’d like to thank Jason for pointing out this particular aspect of google.

Posted by Simon Ives.


1 Response to “Scholarship a la Google?”

  1. 1 waz April 4, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    fantastic tip Simon/Jason I will try to use it myself


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