What’s the best place for scholars to quickly find accessible articles relevant to their research on the web? Based on the title of this post you likely guessed Google Scholar — and you’re right!
A 2015 survey on 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication found that 92% of academics are on Google Scholar, and for good reason. Google Scholar stands apart as one of the most sophisticated research indexes on the web. As part of Google’s search engine, Google Scholar has access to more content than its competitors’ databases, with the ability to crawl entire publisher and journal websites to pull in new content as well as the ability to use the citations in trusted, indexed articles to find and index new research.
However, despite the seemingly magical ability of Google to answer any search query with countless results, the search engine can only include content that its crawlers know to find. Journals must take steps to ensure that their articles are being crawled by Google Scholar if they want them to be indexed.
Are all of your journal’s articles being indexed by Google Scholar? If you don’t know the answer, now is the time to find out and to take steps to ensure your articles get added to the index.
We talked about the broad research benefits of Google Scholar, but you may be wondering: what’s in it for your journal? A primary benefit of Google Scholar is that unlike other databases its search functionality focuses on individual articles, not entire journals, and today’s scholars are typing in keywords and phrases to find the right article, rather than journal, for their research.
Getting your articles indexed on Google Scholar will:
- Give scholars an easy way to find specific articles from your journal and gauge how relevant they are to their research based on the article title and search snippet
- Increase the impact of individual articles and your journal as a whole because more scholars will be likely to find your content via targeted Google searches
- Help resurface old articles from your journal — Google Scholar takes citations into account and shows more frequently cited works earlier in a search
For open access journals the importance of Google Scholar indexing is even greater. If you want your content to be accessible, making it freely available isn’t enough - you have to be sure people can find it on the web and that it isn’t only available to scholars who know to search for your journal website or who have access to subscription databases.
Now that you’ve seen the many benefits of being included in Google Scholar you’re likely wondering if all of your articles can presently be found by the index. But, how can you tell?
You’ll need to first figure out if your journal is a part of a trusted website. Unlike Google, Google Scholar doesn’t just index everything it can access on the web. Rather, it seeks to index content from legitimized research websites. While in a random search, you may find that some of your articles are already on Google Scholar that doesn’t guarantee that all of your content will be there. If other articles from trusted websites cited your articles Google Scholar will know to bring them in, but any content that has not been cited will have no links to trusted content and will take longer to be added to the index.
Google Scholar will only deem a website trustworthy if it follows all of the indexes’ technical guidelines and if the publisher contacts Google Scholar to request inclusion. If you’re not sure whether your journal is being indexed check in with your webmaster to see where you stand.
If you find that your journal website is not yet setup to be indexed by Google Scholar you’ll need to take some steps to get started.
Google Scholar has thorough Inclusion Guidelines for Webmasters that detail how to update your website so that it can be recognized by the index.
Among steps you may need to take are:
- Checking your HTML and PDF file formats to make sure the text is searchable
- Configuring your website to export bibliographic data in HTML meta tags
- Making sure you have a browse interface that can be crawled by Google’s robots
Google Scholar’s indexing guidelines can get pretty technical. If your journal is currently on a standalone website that you had custom-built or that you’re hosting via an outside provider like WordPress, you’ll need to either pay a web developer to make these updates or work with someone at your journal who can.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting indexed by Google Scholar on your own, you may also want to consider moving your journal to a website hosted on a journal management platform that can handle Google Scholar indexing for you, like Scholastica. Scholastica is already considered a trusted site by Google Scholar, so all journals that publish via Scholastica journal websites are automatically indexed with no extra work on the part of the editors.
However you decide to go about getting indexed on Google Scholar, now’s the time to start!