Evidence Summary: Google Scholar Could Be Used as a Stand-Alone Resource for Systematic Reviews
Evidence Based Library and Information Practice
A Review of: Gehanno, J. F., Rollin, L., & Darmoni, S. (2013). Is the coverage of Google Scholar enough to be used alone for systematic reviews. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 13(1): 7. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-7
Objective – To determine if Google Scholar (GS) is sensitive enough to be used as the sole search tool for systematic reviews.
Design – Citation analysis.
Setting – Biomedical literature.
Subjects – Original studies included in 29 systematic reviews published in the Cochrane Library or JAMA.
Methods – The authors searched MEDLINE for any systematic reviews published in the 2008 and 2009 issues of JAMA or in the July 8, 2009 issue of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. They chose 29 systematic reviews for the study and included these reviews in a gold standard database created specifically for this project. The authors searched GS for the title of each of the original references for the 29 reviews. They computed and noted the recall of GS for each reference.
Main Results – The authors searched GS for 738 original studies with a 100% recall rate. They also made a side discovery of a number of major errors in the bibliographic references.
Conclusion – Researchers could use GS as a stand-alone database for systematic reviews or meta-analyses. With a couple improvements to the rate of positive predictive values and advanced search features, GS could become the leading medical bibliographic database.
School of Medicine