Note: Figures can be viewed in the downloadable PDF of this article. See below.
Researchers and students use Google Scholar <http://scholar.google.com> to search for published sources of information that are peer-reviewed and reliable to cite in academic writing. Less well known is the role of automatic Google Scholar algorithms in a global system of publishing, connecting citations and other data with authors, and providing measures to evaluate the academic output of individual scholars and their institutions. There is a way for authors affiliated with higher educational or research institutions to curate and optimize the incomplete data that Google Scholar finds, by registering for a free online Profile. This article thus focuses on precisely how and why career scholars should set up and maintain a Google Scholar Profile.
Why Set Up a Google Scholar Profile?
Higher educational institutions are evaluated, relative to their peers, largely in terms of the aggregate accomplishments of individual faculty members. The controversial yet widely publicized global or national rankings of a university affect the quality of students and staff the institution can attract, as well as potential funding and resources. For example, foreign students often look up prospective universities on global ranking websites when deciding their priorities for studying abroad, so universities cannot rest on their regional laurels.
In the search for objective evaluation criteria, universities as well as global ranking organizations look to quantifiable measures of scholarly output. Google Scholar, with its limited database of reputable publications and academic websites, powered by the Google search engine, and interoperable with research repositories, is in the strongest position to provide data on publications and citations thereof. It handles languages other than English, listing papers in other languages and counting citations to them from other such papers. Citations per faculty member tend to be weighted heavily in the global rankings, as citations are considered the gold standard of peer review, or the best available measure of research influence and the impact of publications.
Japan’s MEXT provides incentives for Japanese universities to achieve higher global rankings through original research that is cited (Daigaku sekai ranku, 2013). McCarty (2015) provided an in-depth look at the connection between Google Scholar Profiles and university rankings. Some universities go so far as to evaluate individual academics for promotion or tenure based largely on the functions found in Google Scholar Profiles, which curate publications of individual authors and count citations to them from selected academic sources. Such universities urge all teachers and researchers to set up and maintain a Google Scholar Profile, which can serve as a lasting e-portfolio or online list of publications. Moreover, one’s Profile can be edited and optimized to correct the incomplete results of the Google Scholar algorithm, which may not count some citations because of typos or different spellings of one’s name. Without a Google Scholar Profile, much of the same data is scattered in the public domain. However, optimizing one’s Google Scholar Profile can make the information more effectively serve one’s purposes, such as increasing citations, academic recognition, networking and collaboration. One’s Profile becomes a node in a global system of interconnected publications and scholars.
How to Set Up a Google Scholar Profile
In order to create your own Google Scholar Profile, sign in to your Google account (or create a new account, if necessary), then go to: http://scholar.google.com (or in Japanese, http://scholar.google.co.jp). Click on My citations. Fill in Step 1. Profile with your information. (Tip: Keep your name consistent for all publications so the Google Scholar algorithm does not miss any.) Your e-mail address must end in .ac.jp or the like, as your affiliation must be confirmed by Google Scholar to be an academic or research institution. Fill in up to five areas of interest (more generic areas make it easier to link with others for research or collaboration).
Click Next step to go to Step 2. Articles. Click on See all articles and Google Scholar offers publications in its database that seem to be yours. Be sure to uncheck ones that are not yours, then click on Add articles. This generates a list including the total number of articles and citations to them. (Please note that Google Scholar draws from a limited database of publications, academic sites, and research repositories, so your publications and citations will probably be undercounted at this stage). Go to Step 3. Updates where you can choose automatic updates or to receive an e-mail to approve all additions of citations or publications to your Profile. Read the explanation of some available customization options, and then click on Go to my profile. The first draft of your Profile page appears on the web at a permanent URL, unless you choose to keep it private. Notice all the parts of the page, with actionable functions highlighted (please note that visitors will only be able to browse this information). The Profile page will probably need editing and customizing to be more effective, particularly in finding citations to your publications.
How to Optimize a Google Scholar Profile
Google Scholar automatically maintains and updates each Profile with publications and citations it finds from its limited sources, such as journals, academic book publishers, and university websites. Online campus research repositories in formats such as DSpace, and independent sites such as Academia.edu automatically feed new entries into the Google Scholar database. If permission can be gained by a university library to not only list abstracts and information about faculty publications, but also to make them wholly available as PDF files, then the writings tend to be more widely read and cited as well as to be curated by Google Scholar. Google Scholar’s algorithm is proprietary, but inferences can be made about how it works. In the experience of this author, adding items to repositories, or editing to make the Profile more complete or accurate has resulted in an uptick of citations found by the algorithm. Some possible customizations of a Profile are illustrated with Figure 1.
1. After setup, the author’s introduction can be edited any time by clicking Edit, but the space is limited. Up to five research interests link to authors with the most citations in those areas. Add a homepage URL and upload a photo to enhance the Profile as an e-portfolio. The Follow button is to receive e-mail notifications if desired whenever new citations or publications are found. 2. Total citations are listed, with indexes for productive years, and a bar graph of the trend over roughly the past decade. 3. Any publications or presentations that Google Scholar has not found among its approved sources can be added manually, so the Profile can serve as an online list of publications. In that case click on Add, then Add article manually (see Figure 3 below). 4. By clicking on Year, the sorting changes from most cited items to reverse chronological order. 5. Limited details are listed under the title of each publication, including all authors, and if some information is missing (like in this example), click on the title and Edit to complete the information, as in Figure 2 (below). Clicking boxes to the left of items makes it possible to delete entries by other authors with the same name, and all mistakes should be corrected. Clicking two boxes makes it possible to merge more than one version of a publication, as each citation found by Google Scholar accrues to only one item. 6. Co-authors who also have Google Scholar Profiles can be easily added, and found by the search box under number 2 in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Some points to notice in the author’s Google Scholar Profile as of July 1, 2016.
Figure 2. Example of information in a Google Scholar Profile entry that the author can edit.
1. Clicking on a publication title in anyone’s Profile page shows more detailed information, which only the author can edit. Figure 2 shows the top part of the screen and the actions available. 2. If the whole article is available online from a research repository that feeds into Google Scholar, links to the file automatically appear in the author’s Profile. Clicking on the Edit button by number 1, the next screen appears. 3. Select the genre of the publication, or check that the automatic entry is categorized correctly. The fields to fill in or correct will be different depending on whether the item was published in a journal or periodical, conference proceedings or presentation, book chapter, authored book, or graduate school thesis. Note the correct format for names of authors and the publication date, which affects the reverse chronological listing. 4. The Scholar articles section is produced automatically by Google Scholar. The title of a publication in this section links to one version, while there is another link at the bottom that opens to a page with all versions (in this case Google Books, a campus research repository, and Academia.edu). Clicking on Cited by leads to the Google Scholar entries for the articles that cited one’s publication, while Related articles are entries that the algorithm finds with similar content. In such ways authors can find related research or authors researching similar areas to follow or seek out for collaboration.
When D. J. Mills set up a Profile, some items were incomplete or missing. His editing to add the article manually is shown below in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Example of D. J. Mills manually adding a co-authored article to his Google Scholar Profile.
The article was evidently among Google Scholar’s sources, but not readily matched to his name among the multiple authors. After editing, Mills’ Profile reflected the changes from the original automatically generated Profile in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Google Scholar Profile of D. J. Mills as of July 1, 2016 reflecting the newly added article.
1. The JALT CALL Journal article now appears in the Profile, and Google Scholar tentatively found a citation to it. 2. The bottom two items were edited to add details including the year of the last item, but the venue of two items could still be added where nothing appears below the author’s name. Co-authors who have a Google Scholar Profile may also be added.
This article has shown briefly how to create an effective Google Scholar Profile that curates one’s publications, maximizes the number of citations credited to one’s works, and facilitates academic networking.
Daigaku sekai ranku iri shien, 10-ko 100-oku-en hojo [10 billion yen to support the inclusion of 10 universities in world rankings] (2013, July 29). Yomiuri Shimbun.
McCarty, S. (2015). University website optimization and Google Scholar for academic recognition. Osaka Jogakuin College Journal, 44, 17–29. Retrieved from http://www.waoe.org/steve/2015_kiyo_rombun.pdf
Editor’s Note: As many people take the time to polish their resume during the spring vacation, you may want to consider adding a Google Scholar Profile to your professional portfolio. In addition to his up-to-date Google Scholar Profile, you can check out Steve McCarty’s publications—including his recent book, Implementing Mobile Language Learning Technologies in Japan—at http://steve.waoe.org. As preparations for PanSIG 2017 and JALTCALL 2017 continue, I hope that all of our readers have a great spring vacation and recharge your batteries so that, in the coming school year, your classes will be even more Wired!