Private Companies and Scholarly Infrastructure - Google Scholar and Academic Autonomy

10 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2020

See all articles by Jake Goldenfein

Jake Goldenfein

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne

Sebastian Benthall

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Daniel S. Griffin

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information

Eran Toch

Tel Aviv University - Department of Industrial Engineering

Date Written: October 28, 2019

Abstract

Google Scholar has become a critical piece of academic infrastructure. Not only is it used to search for academic publications, but its bibliometrics system has become central in the evaluation of scholars for hiring and funding. There have been numerous studies of Google Scholar that explore how the technology actually works (i.e. how it determines academic ‘relevance’ or ‘scholarliness’); what types of work, repositories, and authors it privileges or marginalizes; and how comprehensive its citations are. We take a different approach, however, and analyse the political and ethical dimensions of the shift in control over scholarly infrastructure from commercial academic publishers into "Big Tech" platforms. We discuss how this change, premised on Google Scholar's usability, implicates and potential undermines certain norms and conventions traditionally associated with academic work. In particular, we discuss how Google Scholar's centrality in evaluative bibliometrics is changing what academic knowledge looks like, further centralizes academic tools in Google service, undermines academic autonomy, and does so without transparency or accountability.

Keywords: Bibliometrics, Google Scholar, Surveillance, Citation Indexing, Academic Publishing

Suggested Citation

Goldenfein, Jake and Benthall, Sebastian and Griffin, Daniel S. and Toch, Eran, Private Companies and Scholarly Infrastructure - Google Scholar and Academic Autonomy (October 28, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3476911 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3476911

Jake Goldenfein (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Melbourne, VIC 3010
Australia

Sebastian Benthall

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Daniel S. Griffin

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States

Eran Toch

Tel Aviv University - Department of Industrial Engineering ( email )

Tel Aviv 6997801
Israel

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