Big Changes at Google Scholar

Perennial LPM authors Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch are responsible for this week’s guest post about Google Scholar. Together, Carole and Mark operate Internet For Lawyers, which provides customized Internet research training to legal professionals. They are the authors of Google for Lawyers; Find Info Like a Pro, Volume 1; Find Info Like a Pro, Volume 2; and the forthcoming Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet, 12th Edition.  

Google is known for constantly working to upgrade and improve its services – and Google Scholar is no exception. Often these improvements are introduced with little or no announcement or documentation. Some of these “improvements” are for the better and some are not.

The first change at Google Scholar that is NOT for the better is that it’s now harder to find because it’s no longer located on the “More” drop-down menu. Instead, to navigate to Google Scholar you’ll need to click the “More” tab and then “Even More” (see Illustration 1).

Illustration 1

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You can avoid all of these additional clicks by going directly to http://scholar.google.com, but beware…you will be looking at Google Scholar’s “new modern look,” which is the second change that is NOT for the better. This change took away the Advanced Scholar Search link that used to be displayed to the right of the search box. The Advanced Scholar Search menu is now hidden behind the down arrow on the right-hand side of the search box. It will display if you hover over the arrow (see Illustration 2).

Illustration 2

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The third change that is NOT for the better is that Google eliminated the “Select specific courts” tab (found after you chose the Advanced Scholar Search tab) that allowed you to select one or multiple state and federal courts from a list (see Illustration 3) to search simultaneously.

Illustration 3

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Illustration 4

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Now, a truncated Advanced Google Scholar page is displayed (see Illustration 4), minus the list of courts that used to be displayed. Using Google’s truncated Advanced Scholar menu, you are forced into a time consuming two-step process if you want to search specific courts. First, you must run a search through every state and federal court. Then, after viewing the results that include courts you are not interested in, you are finally allowed to narrow your search to the specific court or courts you wanted to search in the first place by clicking the “Select courts” link in the left-hand side bar (see Illustration 5).

Illustration 5

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Luckily, there are still two ways to access the old (better) “venerable look” version of the Google Scholar Advanced Search page, which includes the list of specific courts to choose from, but it’s also a two step process because Google will not let you go directly to the Advanced Scholar Search page. The first way is via this URL: http://linkon.in/LUWhjK and then click “Advanced Scholar Search,” enter your keywords, scroll down to the “Select specific courts to search” tab, and click it to reveal all the state and federal court choices. The second is to look for the link at the lower-left bottom of the homepage labeled “Revert to old venerable look” and click it (see Illustration 2). This will display the old version of the Google Scholar search page, complete with a link to the “Advanced Scholar Search” link that then offers you the “Select specific courts to search” tab which you click to reveal all the state and federal court choices.

The fourth change is the only one we like and that is the ability to sort results by date. However, it only works with the “new modern look” and we don’t like that. Choosing “Sort by date” from the left-hand side bar (see Illustration 5) displays cases in reverse chronological order (with the most recent cases first).

Google, stop messing with a good thing. Leave the “old venerable look” of Google Scholar as is and add the “Sort by date” feature to it.

About Lindsay Dawson

Lindsay Dawson (@lawpracticetips) is Marketing Manager for Book Publishing at the ABA Law Practice Management Section. A full list of books published by the ABA Law Practice Management section can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/uHTFmO.
  • james

    Why is the sort by date feature now available, but limited to the current year only!!!

    I honestly can’t understand why basic, straightforward features like this are so hard to implement or deliberately withheld by Google.