Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Searching for scientific articles on Google Scholar works especially well when I can find the search terms that are specific enough to narrow down to the subject I'm interested in and yet general enough to not miss relevant articles. When authors use different terminology to refer to the same thing --- which often happens when a field is very young -- this can be less effective. In fact, I've found cases where the seminal paper for a topic does not even use the key terms that are later used to describe it. For example, John Nash's papers that helped define the area of game theory don't refer to the area as game theory.
Now there's an additional way to find related work in Google Scholar, which should be helpful in such situations. For every Google Scholar search result, we try to automatically determine which articles in our repository are most closely related to it. You can see a list of these articles by clicking the "Related Articles" link that appears next to each result. The list of related articles is ranked primarily by how similar these articles are to the original result, but also takes into account the relevance of each paper. To go back to the game theory example, clicking on the Related Articles link for the first result for game theory enables users to discover several of Nash's seminal articles.
Finding sets of related papers and books is often a great way for novices to get acquainted with a topic. However, we've found that even experts can sometimes be surprised to discover related work in their area of expertise.
Think of it as a way to hop from one giant's shoulder to the next!