2004-11-21

Google puts new slant on scholarship

[T]he company behind the internet's leading search engine aims to change the academic world too, with a new search tool putting a treasure trove of scholarly writing within the reach of everyday users.

Following moves to make scientific research freely available, Google Scholar allows any internet user to search for keywords in theses, books, technical reports, university websites and even traditional academic publications.

The free system, which is being run initially in test form and can be seen at http://www.scholar.google.com/ spans the academic disciplines from medicine and physics to economics and computer science.

An interesting article. I wonder if the Google folks know how their machine is currently affecting research in syntax and semantics and pragmatics and the rest. It seems more and more papers are citing Google for grammaticality judgments--one pragmantician I know fondly refers to Google judgments as his "Google Research". Also, it seems a common story now for a researcher to show up with a printout of constructions that "aren't supposed to occur". That is, sentences that don't occur within the theory but seem to freely occur on pages searched by Google. It's interesting to wonder how the current state of syntactic theory might have been had Google judgments been around in the early 90s.

Anyway, I don't know how the scholar.google.com system will work out. But I suspect it will probably do well, as everything else those guys do seems to.

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