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Google  Scholar  is  an  internet-based  search  engine  designed  to  locate scholarly information,  including peer-reviewed articles, theses, books, preprints, abstracts,  and court  opinions from  academic publishers,  professional societies, online repositories, universities, and other Web sites. This review looks at  the strengths and weaknesses of this search engine to assist librarians in making informed decisions about the use of this tool 




Technology has aided in the improvement of the modern educational system at all levels of learning, including school, college, and university education. Not only has the use of technology increased in the classroom to make teaching and learning more efficient, learner-centered, and outcome-oriented, but it has also provided teachers an incentive to use it as a tool to bridge the gap between traditional learning and modern educational criteria for the learner’s overall growth.

A look at how quickly various information and communication technologies are being implemented as a catalyst to improve learning (Gupta (Gupta and Fisher 2012)) reveals how quickly they are being adopted at various levels and in different settings.

The World Wide Web (www) has provided new possibilities for the distribution of instructional materials as the fastest growing distance and versatile education mediator (Kerrey and Isakson 2000). While many people remain enthusiastic about the introduction of the internet (www) into education in general, others have become disillusioned (Cuban 2001; Oppenheimer 2003).

Whatever one’s point of view, it should be clear that merely putting content online does not offer viable solutions to teaching and learning issues. Higher learning results cannot be achieved unless effective theories and instructional techniques are used in conjunction with the specific features of the internet.(Wind-chill 1998).

Educators must try to stimulate and maintain student motivation through the design of effective experiences in a Web-Based Learning Environment to adequately involve students in active learning and facilitate adequate mental effort (Reeves and Reeves 1997).

Some interactive programs available via the Internet which initially pique students’ interest due to unique screen designs or the inclusion of features such as animation and sounds, but unless the experiences are designed to be cognitively stimulating, students will become dissatisfied and unmotivated (Louie 2000).

Google is  an  internet-based  search  engine  designed  to  locate scholarly information,( including peer-reviewed articles, theses, books, preprints, abstracts,  and court  opinions from  academic publishers,  professional societies, online repositories, universities, and other Web sites.  Results are returned in a relevance-ranked format. Google Scholar is free on the Web; institutions whose holdings are available via a link resolver and/or WorldCat can opt to link patrons to those resources as part of their Google Scholar search results

Since its launch in 2004, Google has firmly established itself as a critical resource for those conducting academic research. Bolstered by its hard-to-beat pricing (free) and its broad, interdisciplinary coverage, Google is now included as a resource on many library Web sites and taught to students. Certainly, Google is a solid entrant into the world of scholarly research and offers both students and serious researchers alike a highly accessible, easy-to-use research tool. However, this promising tool is not without significant flaws. As William Badke noted in a June 2009 article, “Google is, in essence, a large, academic metasearch tool. As such, it carries all the promise and frustrations of metasearch––with additional frustrations” (Badke 2009, 48).

Google initial launch was met with a mixture of skepticism and support, and since then it has been the subject of numerous articles, studies, and reviews. More than five years later, the product still wears a “beta” label and evidence indicates that programmers continue to make changes to Google behind the scenes.

Today it has been estimated that Google participates with approximately,900 scholarly publishers and includes more than 10 million items from Google  Book Search (Jascó 2010, 176–177), although there  is no  authoritative  information  on potential  overlap  between  Google Scholar, Google Books, and  regular Google. Google’s ongoing refusal to provide discrete information about the size and scope of its database makes exact quantitative analysis next to impossible.

The extent to which the use of the Google search engine has permeated academic culture is illustrated by a single statistic from a recent survey of academic authors: 72% of students are using the Google search engine to search for scholarly articles.(Alma Swan and Sheridan Brown may 2005), we can easily believe that students would take to Google like ducks to water. It is easy to use, saves them time in writing essays, and links to a vast amount of information.

That student would use Google fits with our prejudice about young people always wanting an easy solution without too much work, and using their familiarity with the new technology to achieve that result. And students use Google for these reasons: ease of use, saving time, and access to a wide range of resources.

Valuable though the main Google search engine is, its limitations for anybody searching for academic content are readily observable. A search may show up many references of no academic value at all, not necessarily because the quality of the content to which a link is provided is poor, but because the content is not of relevance to learning or research.

Words used in searching often have different connotations, and a search may reveal content related to a different meaning of a word, although in practice such situations are rare. More common will be inadequate search results due to the failure of the search engine’s inability to recognise the context of the words used for searching, the classic example of which is “lead,” which is both a verb and a noun, and has different connotations when talking about pencils and about chemistry. Also common are human errors in searching, particularly a failure to be precise in listing search terms.

Google and other search engines are very sophisticated and the more we use their sophistication, the better the results we achieve. As an illustration of this point, a Google search under the words “open access” revealed 598,000,000 entries, nine of the first ten of which would have been useful to anybody investigating open access to research outputs, but beyond the first ten results the reader would be looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Using the “Advanced Search” facility on Google did reduce the size of the haystack in this search, providing many more than the nine immediate links in the general search, particularly through the use of the “all in title” facility and restricting the search to Web pages updated in the past six months.


An important limitation on use of a general search engine in learning is the growth of content on the World Wide Web. A Google search at the time of this writing did not reveal any recent estimate of the number of Web sites worldwide, but the estimate of the total number of domain names is over 45 million (, and while some domains do not have Web sites, many others (such as those at universities) have numerous different sites under their domain.

That creates real problems for users seeking the information most relevant to their needs. A reader with very little knowledge of a subject is easily led down paths into irrelevant information when so many Web sites are available. So the development of specialist search services, such as Google Scholar, is an inevitable and welcome development. The scope of Google Scholar is defined on its Web site as:

“Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research.

Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.” Where Google Scholar potentially has an edge over some others, Google is the supermarket or shopping mall of information; Google Scholar is the specialist shop.

It is based on the foregoing that this researcher has decided to embark on this academic journey to proffer possible solutions to the issues raised.


The researcher seeks to answer the following questions which can be categorized under general questions and a set of specific questions.


The general question is what is how important is Google in the educational development of student’s in the department of journalism and mass communication?


  • What is Google?
  • How can it be used to facilitate learning for students in the department of journalism and mass communication in the University of Buea?
  • How effective is the use of Google in students’ academic development?


The objectives are divided into general and specific objectives


The research is carried out to understand the influence of Google on the educational advancement of students. 


  • To discuss the concept of Google?
  • To examine its role in facilitating learning for students in the department of journalism and mass communication in the University of Buea.
  • To assess the effectiveness of the use of Google in students’ academic advancement.




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