Tuesday, 17th November 2009
Legal Info Now Part of Google Scholar Database; Federal and State Legal Opinions and Patents, Law Journals Also Part of the Mix
UPDATE: Here's the Official Blog Post from Google
Here's what ResoureShelf has to say.
Yes, something new at Google Scholar (GS) to share. Its been a long time (see below for more on our last GS posting) since we posted about something new from GS.
Let's do this one step at a time.
When you visit the Google Scholar Home Page you'll see three radio buttons/boxes directly below the search box.
The one on the left limits you search to only articles, directly next to it you can toggle on or off access to patents. So, we now know patent content is now part of the Google Scholar database. Of course, you could argue how "scholarly" patent material is (but we can save that discussion for another day). It's likely people want them included in with Google Scholar results so Google is listening. That said, it does seem a bit odd since Google has a separate patent search interface. But, it's important to put the content where people want it. Also, they've grouped patents with articles (e.g. scholarly articles, what you would expect from GS) and not with legal opinions and journals. I would have guessed they would have grouped all of the legal materials in one group.
Of course, if you don't want patent content in your results, it's very easy, just don't select the button.
At the top of a search results page you'll now see three drop down boxes. What do they offer?
++ An Option to Refine Your Results to:
+ Articles and Patents
+ Articles Excluding Patents
+ Legal Opinions and Journals
+ Only Federal Cases
+ Only California Cases
++ Drop Down Two
+ Limit by Date; From 1990-the Present (On the advance search page, you can select any date range)
++ Drop Down Three
+ Include Citations
+ At least summaries
Now, to the legal search options. It looks as if Google is a new source for material from the U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court and courts from all fifty states. You'll find published opinions. What we're going to try and find out is if the legal journals are new to Google Scholar or they now have a new way to limit to them. Here's a legal document/journal search for the phrase "Sony Music."
UPDATE: There is no way to search content from all 50 states (and DC) at one time without checking each "state" box on the advanced search page.
UPDATE: As of 11/17 most of the state material comes primarily from a state's Supreme Court (or High Court) and goes back to somewhere in the 1950 range. In other words, we had trouble finding material from state trial and appellate courts.
Result #1 is, "Snyder v. Sony Music." Click the title and read the opinion. Another feature either from the results page or via a tab above the court opinion allows you to see how the case has been cited.
Thee sections are on the page:
+ How this document has been cited
You'll see an quote next to where the actual site was found. When you click, you'll see the text highlighted directly next to the site.
+ Cited by
+ and Related documents (No word on what makes a document related or who/what makes the call. We're betting it's an algorithm.
In terms of legal journals, they're mixed in with the rest of the material. Check out result #1 on this results page. Click to read the article from the Journal of High Technology Law and you have to login to your LexisNexis account or pay $12.50. Here's another article and this time you need to have a HeinOnline subscription. The actual result lists two versions and they both are from HeinOnline. We browsed about 100 entries from five searches and only found one free article, in this case from a government organization. if free articles are in the database, it will take more test searches to find them. One thing that we did notice is that their is a lot of content from journals published by Sage.
Of course, the Google Scholar Advanced Search Interface Has Been Updated
1) The search by collection area has been expanded to include the patent option.
2) You can limit your search for opinions to one or more of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
3) You can search by date range (no limits)
4) To access state cases you have to use the advanced interface (except California, which has a drop down refinement on results pages)
Much More After a Click
Are They Competitors as of Today? What About Next Year?
So, look out LexisNexis, Westlaw, etc.? No, they still offer a LOT of search functionality Google doesn't provide (understatement) as of today and they update their databases with new opinions, head notes, etc. many times a day.
Plus, Justia (a free service) does a great job of providing free access and RSS alerts to court dockets and some filings for free. For example, here's a page linking to available documents Google Book Search case back to 2005. These pages have the same look and feel of Pacer but it's free. Features Google doesn't offer as of today. Justia also provides free access to U.S. District Court opinions and U.S. Federal Court Appeals Opinions. Another plus are Justia's clean, crisp, and easy to use interfaces.
+ We know Google has opinions from 50 states. Just how content do they have for each state? When does the collection start and stop. How often is the database updated? Having the info would save users time, something Google frequently says it wants to do for its users.
+ How often is the database updated? Hourly? Daily? Monthly? If an opinion is published and released on Tuesday morning will it be in GS database by the end of the week?
+ Who is providing all of this content or has Google built their own system to compile and get the documents online?
+ We've asked this Google Scholar started, how about a list of the partners you work with and a list of journals, with start and stop dates, for each title? We realize that some of Google Scholar's content comes via a web crawl but data feeds from publishers are provided. How about a list of them and each journal available. If you go to any of the big info vendors the're more than happy to provide this info. Again, it saves the searcher time and aggravation. They can look elsewhere instead of searching for something that'a quite possibly not in the database in the first place.
+ Finally, we were unable to find any documentation for these new features. However, this service is very new so we'll hope that Google has something online very soon.
Is this Google breaking out into a new area? Like most things Google, we will have to wait and see. We will be on the lookout for more new features.
Google Scholar continues not to show advertising.
Our most recent post about Google Scholar was this October, 2009 article by Peter Jacso from LJ titled, "Google Scholarís Ghost Authors, Lost Authors, and Other Problems."
We just went back through the ResourceShelf archives and its been some time since we posted about something new or updated regarding Google Scholar.
The last item we could find was an announcement that Google Scholar had just hit the 1,200 library mark with their Library Links program. Here's the post from Google Librarian Central from June 7, 2007 Unfortunately, a primary info point for changes, updates, interviews etc. about Google Scholar was the Google's Librarian Central blog but it has not been updated since the Summer of 2008.