Internet searches might become faster and more fruitful for students, scholars, and other academics as early as this year, thanks to a pilot program being developed as a free service spearheaded by Google, the world’s leading internet search engine.

The initiative, called CrossRef Search, combines Google’s popular search technology with the archives of up to 300 leading scholarly publications, allowing researchers to separate Google’s typical search results from high-quality, peer-reviewed, scholarly content.

“Everybody is using Google, even scientists,” said Ed Pentz, executive director of CrossRef, an association for scholarly publishers. “For a lot of people, Google is the first place they check.”

Google’s general search results can produce an overwhelming amount of links, many of which are unreliable or unrelated to the desired topic. If a science student types “Dolly” into a Google query, for example, he or she will spend valuable time sorting through disparate links about the singer Dolly Parton and the musical Hello Dolly before finding information about the first cloned sheep. Using the terms “Dolly” and “sheep” narrows the search to a still-overwhelming 116,000 links.

The CrossRef Search, however, would provide access to full-text articles about Dolly the cloned sheep only from trusted sources, Pentz said.

The service aims to help students find authoritative, scientific information faster. “There’s so much information and so much being indexed by search engines like Google,” Pentz said, but “students [often] don’t look at the quality of the search results.”

Nine publishers–the American Physical Society, Annual Reviews, the Association for Computing Machinery, Blackwell Publishing, the Institute of Physics Publishing, the International Union of Crystallography, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press, and John Wiley & Sons Inc.–have made their archives available for the pilot so far.

Using the tool, which is located on each participating publisher’s search page, students can search the current and past issues of multiple journals, as well as conference proceeding articles. The CrossRef Search performs like a typical Google search, except that it searches only the participating publishers’ archives.

More than 3,000 searches have been done since CrossRef Search launched April 28. To refine the search process, CrossRef will gather feedback from those who have used it over the next several months.

Once the pilot is complete in December, CrossRef expects to make the search tool available to the general public. At that time, school libraries could add the CrossRef Search box, which includes a Google logo, to their web page for students to use.

In the meantime, CrossRef plans to add 20 more publishers to the pilot. Ultimately, the group hopes to add all of its 300 members’ publications.



American Physical Society

Annual Reviews

Association for Computing Machinery

Blackwell Publishing

Institute of Physics Publishing

International Union of Crystallography

Nature Publishing Group

Oxford University Press

John Wiley & Sons Inc.