Google Scholar, it’s a good thing

January 25th, 2006

Google Scholar, it’s a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

We recently added a feature to our ebiquity paper repository that ties papers to their Google Scholar entries. The main motivation was to allow us to track citations.

As I’ve worked through our papers to verify and add their Google Scholar keys, other benefits are becoming apparent. In several cases I’ve discovered errors or omissions in our own meta data. Sometimes our own entries have had the title wrong! In other cases, I’ve found several Google Scholar entries for the same paper. Sometimes this is due to an error by the author of a citing paper, which can propagate.

I suspect that some of the errors originate with us. Here’s one scenario. When a paper is accepted for publication, the author is happy and excited and adds an entry in our database, along with softcopy of the draft. People download and read the draft and, if it’s good, start citing it. Months later the ultimate copy, which may have a different title and even a different author list, is finalized. Ideally, our site is edited to reflect the final metadata and final softcopy. But, sometimes this doesn’t happen or the final softcopy is not uploaded for copyright reasons. In any case, the old, and possibly incorrect metadata and draft may have escaped to roam the Internet.

Lately I’ve started to add a header to draft copies of papers posted to our side that states that they are drafts and also where the final version will appear. I’ve found Acrobat’s ability to add a header to an existing pdf file to be very handy for this. I’ve also used Acrobat to extract the first page of an article for which we don’t hold the copyright, add a header pointing to it’s source, and post that on our site (as in this example.)

Finally, one of the ideas that underlies the current Semantic Web vision is that it’s very useful for things on the web to have good identifiers. The Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is the Semantic Web’s favorite identifier, but we all recognize that just using URIs is to simple for many objects (e.g., people). OWL’s contribution to this is the notion of an inverse functional property. If my ontology defines SSN as an inverse functional property, then two objects that share the same SSN must be the same. So, along these lines, the googleScholarKey property should be inverse-functional and have domain=publication and range=string.