Google Scholar

My brother has discovered that, if you call up Google Scholar, and type in “nominalization and abstract language”, two of our old articles come up very near the top:

The Deficit Hypothesis Revisited (1986) and

“Illuminating English”: how explicit language teaching improved public examination results in a comprehensive school (1992)

I was unaware of this and asked for help in understanding how Google Scholar works.

Tom Davis explained:

The way google scholar works is that it indexes as many sources of
academic discourse as it can. Journals, books, library collections,
all sorts. How it distinguishes between academic and non-academic is a
complex secret known only to google.

It presents relevant results to any searcher. They are sorted in order
of value, measured largely by how many other people have linked to or
cited them (the exact algorithm google uses for determining rank order
is a closely guarded secret).

What happens then all depends. For instance, searching for
“Illuminating English” (NB you put double quotes round the search
string to look for that exact string; otherwise it would return
results with any occurrences of individual words, eg ‘illuminating
manuscripts in English’ somewhere in the text) produces these results:

If you follow up the links, you see that google has indefatigably
picked up occurrences in journals, and in your website, as well as
citations of the article. The article can be downloaded by the
searcher, at a cost: one, for instance, asked for £23. All of which
goes to the publisher, of course.

And that’s how any article came to be there, and how it all works!



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