Google Scholar, a free, centralized portal for searching for academic literature from a wide variety of publishers, added a new feature last month—Google Scholar Citations (GSC). GSC will allow researchers to track who cites their papers and how often they are cited over time. By creating a public profile, an author’s citation data will also appear in Google Scholar search results when a user searches for his or her name. In addition, the service promises to provide “h-index” values that reflect a researcher’s productivity and impact in their field, Nature reported yesterday (August 2).
Thomson Reuters' Web of Knowledge and Elsevier's Scopus database already offer such services, but for a fee, as does Microsoft, which launched its free-of-charge Academic Search (MAS) two years ago. MAS has more tools than GSC including citation network maps which show connections between different research specialties, but Google Scholar’s database is much larger, including citations not only from journals, but from books, theses, and conference presentations.
“It is clear that the commercial citation index producers will be more and more in competition with these free-access facilities," Ton Van Raan, a bibliometrics expert at Leiden University, the Netherlands, told Nature.