Author Archives: Alex Verstak

Quickly flip through papers on your phone

Today, we are making it easier to use your phone to find and scan scholarly articles. Clicking a Scholar search result on your phone now opens a quick preview:

You can swipe left and right to quickly flip through the list of results. Where available, you can read abstracts. Or explore related and citing articles, which appear at the bottom of the preview along with other familiar Scholar features.

When you find an interesting article, you can click through to read it immediately, or you can tap the star icon to save it for later in your Scholar library. You'll need to sign in to the same Google account on both the phone and the laptop to use this feature. This lets you find and save papers on your phone wherever you are. Once you get home, you can grab a cup of coffee and click "My library" on your laptop to get to your reading list.

Quick previews are available in Chrome, Safari, Samsung, and other standard browsers on recent Android and Apple phones. Sorry, they won't work in Opera Mini or other special-purpose browsers; and they are not, at this time, available on tablets.

We would like to thank our partners in scholarly publishing that have worked with us on this. Working together, we hope to help make research more efficient everywhere.

Posted by: Alex Verstak, Software Engineer

Better ways of getting around

If you thought Google Scholar had about twenty different screens, you'd be half right. We have just made it easier to find your way around them.

Settings, advanced search, case law, and "my library" moved into the side drawer, which is now present on all screen sizes and all devices. If you're wondering how to get to a Scholar feature that you don't immediately see, it's probably in the drawer; click the menu icon in the upper left of the screen to open it.

"Cite" and "save" options under each search result moved to the left and became icons.  The quote icon shows formatted citations in a variety of styles - MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver, - and links to export the citation to EndNote and other bibliography managers.  The star icon saves the search result to your personal library, so you can read or cite it later.  To review your saved articles, open the drawer and click "my library".

Author profile pages got a cleaner look, especially on mobile devices.  Rest assured, we did not change your citation counts - at least, not intentionally.  It is, however, a good time to review your photo - it's now a circle - and to update your affiliation and research interests.  Please visit your profile to review and update it.

Posted by: Alex Verstak, Software Engineer

On the Shoulders of Giants: The Growing Impact of Older Articles

Next in the 10th anniversary series, we look at the impact of older articles, and at how it had changed over the last several decades. A significant increase in the rate of publication over this time period might lead one to expect a corresponding decrease in the fraction of citations to older articles. However, this trend is counteracted by increasingly broad availability of archival content, and by universal availability of comprehensive relevance-ranked search. Overall, we found that the impact of older articles had grown over 1990-2013, and that the growth had accelerated over the second half of this time period.  -- Alex Verstak


On the Shoulders of Giants: The Growing Impact of Older Articles


Alex Verstak, Anurag Acharya, Helder Suzuki, Sean Henderson, Mikhail Iakhiaev, Cliff Chiung Yu Lin, Namit Shetty

In this paper, we examine the evolution of the impact of older scholarly articles. We attempt to answer four questions. First, how often are older articles cited and how has this changed over time. Second, how does the impact of older articles vary across different research fields. Third, is the change in the impact of older articles accelerating or slowing down. Fourth, are these trends different for much older articles.

To answer these questions, we studied citations from articles published in 1990-2013. We computed the fraction of citations to older articles from articles published each year as the measure of impact. We considered articles that were published at least 10 years before the citing article as older articles. We computed these numbers for 261 subject categories and 9 broad areas of research. Finally, we repeated the computation for two other definitions of older articles, 15 years and older and 20 years and older.

There are three conclusions from our study. First, the impact of older articles has grown substantially over 1990-2013. In 2013, 36% of citations were to articles that are at least 10 years old; this fraction has grown 28% since 1990. The fraction of older citations increased over 1990-2013 for 7 out of 9 broad areas and 231 out of 261 subject categories. Second, the increase over the second half (2002-2013) was double the increase in the first half (1990-2001). Third, the trend of a growing impact of older articles also holds for even older articles. In 2013, 21% of citations were to articles >= 15 years old with an increase of 30% since 1990 and 13% of citations were to articles >= 20 years old with an increase of 36%.

Now that finding and reading relevant older articles is about as easy as finding and reading recently published articles, significant advances aren't getting lost on the shelves and are influencing work worldwide for years after.

Fresh Look of Scholar Profiles

Summer's at an end… while the predictions of the much needed (in California) El Niño may or may not prove accurate, the season's ripe to put a fresh coat of paint on the Scholar Citations profiles.

We're rolling out a complete visual refresh, along with several usability improvements. Your publications are taking the center stage, while their aggregate citation metrics are moving to the sidebar. The "Follow" button is graduating to a more prominent spot, to make it easier for your fellow researchers to keep up with your latest articles. Working with a long list of publications is becoming more straightforward — you can load up to a thousand articles onto a page; and the "Merge", "Delete", and "Export" buttons always stay within easy reach on top of the screen.



The new modern profiles are easy to read on just about any device: 3-inch phones, 10-inch tablets, 24-inch desktops, and everything in-between. Really, everything. I gave it a spin on eight desktop browsers, two laptops, six phones, and three tablets. The new layout is more compact, especially on the smaller screens, and the controls are now larger and more finger-friendly. Just like in Scholar search.



We've also made it easier to print a nice, clean version of your profile. Your browser's "print" button now removes the sidebar and the controls, and prints just the list of articles with a brief summary header. Pro tip: to print more than twenty articles, click "Show more" at the bottom of the profile. If you wish to repeat the table header on top of every page, you'll need to use Firefox or Internet Explorer to print your profile; current versions of Chrome and Safari only print the header on the first page.



Needless to say, this is an excellent time to review your Scholar Citations profile, and make sure your information is up to date. Perhaps you have moved to another university? Or made a new homepage? Or maybe you've configured manual updates of your publications, and haven't had a chance to review the update emails for months? We haven't changed any entries as part of this visual refresh — nor did we change your metrics, I hope, — but if you haven't updated your Scholar profile for some time, it'd be great to give it a quick look.Three quarters of Scholar search results pages currently show links to the authors' public profiles. Chances are that someone's looking at yours too.

Posted by: Alex Verstak, Software Engineer

Our New Modern Look

We've recently been experimenting with a new modern look for Scholar search results. Many of you have already tried the new look and have offered valuable suggestions, which we've done our best to incorporate. Thank you for your time and patience!

It is time - gulp! - to launch the new modern look of our search pages and retire the old venerable look that has served researchers worldwide since our first release in 2004. Tried and true as the old look might be, it's time for a refresh.

The new modern look brings you improved aesthetics and easier access to frequently used search features. You can now search for recent papers with a single click in the sidebar. You can access advanced search features (for example: search by author) without leaving the search results page by clicking the arrow in the right of the search box.

Here's a quick overview of the changes:

We've made several adjustments based on feedback from the legal search user survey earlier this year. You can limit your search to specific jurisdictions by clicking in the sidebar of the search results page instead of navigating through advanced search. You can print legal cases in a cleaner, more streamlined format using the "Print" option in your browser.

We've also clarified the preferences, err, settings page by organizing it into sections, performed a minor facelift on pages that deal with configuration of email alerts, and next we'll be working on updating the author profile pages and help pages.

As announced last summer, we're unable to continue supporting older and infrequently used versions of Firefox (<3.6) and Internet Explorer (<7). If you're using an unsupported browser, we recommend updating your browser.

If you don't like our new modern look, or simply prefer to wait a little longer before switching, you can temporarily revert to the old venerable look. Please take a moment to let us know why the new modern look didn't work for you. We appreciate your time and value your feedback.

If you're wondering why you're still seeing the old look, that's probably because we're gradually rolling out the new look to all users. But you don't have to wait. You can beat the crowds and upgrade right away.

Posted by: Alex Verstak, Software Engineer