Google Scholar Takes a Bite out of ResearchGate.net and Academia.edu

On March 23, the Google Scholar team announced on their blog a new contribution to the OA self-archiving scholarly ecosystem. Google has released new functionality to help authors identify which articles are deposited OA in compliance with funder (whether gov or NGO) OA mandates all the while leveraging Google Drive–connected to a Google Scholar author’s profile–into an article self-archiving solution.

A SWOT-styled analysis follows under the fold:

Strengths: This will certainly increase author compliance with grant funder self-archiving mandates. The workflow is intuitive and easy to use. The built-in connection between Google Scholar and Google Drive allows for reliable, public identity management and verification.

Weaknesses: There is no indication yet that Google Scholar will give authors the ability to mint new DOIs for green versions of self-archived articles. This is a step backwards in terms of Linked Open Data and permanent iD standards that grant funders and universities want. There is also apparently no version checking or rights clearance, putting Google Scholar’s self-archiving at a distinct disadvantage to ShareYourPaper.org as a non-commercial article self-archiving solution. It also suggests that article self-archiving could be impermanent, allowing authors to delete (purposefully or accidentally) their content. It also means more academic articles will have incomplete or problematic article metadata available for readers to access, since Google Scholar’s metadata schema for articles and its exposed metadata are meager by information science standards.

Opportunities: It remains to be seen whether and how institutional and open science repositories will be able to find and harvest author content saved in Google Drive, or if the Google Scholar team will partner with universities to build institutional management dashboards allowing them to follow authors, encourage self-deposit, and harvest metadata records and items automatically and in bulk into our institutional repositories.

Threats: This puts Google Scholar directly into competition with ResearchGate.net and Academia.edu as the current major commercial players in academic self-archiving. It remains to be seen whether and how these companies might be able to find and harvest author content deposited via Google Drive.

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