Bring back Google Scholar!

I realize that Larry Page is on a crusade to dumb down Google in order to compete more effectively with Facebook (exhibit 1: Google Search Plus Your World), but was it really necessary to remove Google Scholar, one of the company’s most useful services, from the search-options drop-down menu on search results pages? A couple of months ago, Google actually expanded the choices appearing on that menu, in a ham-fisted attempt to promote more of its services, but it deleted the Scholar option:

dropdown.jpg

The menu is now a confusing mishmash of options to refine searches (e.g., Books, Photos) and links that whisk you over to landing pages for Google services (e.g., Wallet, Offers). But to get to Scholar, you have to click on the Even More link, then scroll down through a dog’s breakfast of obscure Google products, click on the Google Scholar link, and then (since Google doesn’t bother to remember what you were searching for in the first place), retype your keywords into the Google Scholar search box. What a kludge.

In addition to the drop-down menu, Google also lards its search results pages with two other search-options menus – the one that runs across the top, in that funereal black band, and the one that runs down the left margin – but you won’t find a Scholar option in those places, either. (I’ll also point out, just to emphasize the dumbing-down point, that the Images option now appears in all three places, though in the drop-down menu it’s called Photos and instead of bringing you to the real Image results it brings you to some lame-ass Picasa Image results. This is exactly the kind of of self-serving bloat that Google used to make fun of Microsoft for. We become what we hate.)

Promote Google Offers, and demote Google Scholar: if you’re looking for a symbol of the way Google has changed, you couldn’t do better than that. And, for the record, I’m not the only one whining about this. It’s a doggone donnybrook.

Larry, I beg you, put Google Scholar in one of those freaking menus. I don’t care which one. If you’d like, you can even add a fourth options menu down at the bottom of the page and stick Scholar there – alongside, perhaps, “Picasa Cat Photos” and “Google+ Celebrity Posts” and “Google Offers Daily Deals.”

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Bring back Google Scholar!

  1. Damn straight, Nick. How hard would it be for Google to enable users to build their own menu? Isn’t mass customization one of the things that the Web gave us oh, 10 years ago? I use Scholar a lot — far more often that Offers. But Larry and Sergei don’t want to hear that, do they?

  2. I have a bit of a hack to get around this awfully annoying problem. It’s not perfect, but it works: I’ve changed the about:config file in Firefox so that the keyword:URL searches http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q= instead of just plain Google.

    That means that all of the searches that I run in my “awesome bar” are automatically done in Scholar instead of Google proper. It’s actually a bit better than what I used to do (type in the search, then hit “Scholar” on the top menu to run the search again through Scholar).

    When I’m not searching for scholarly stuff, I just use the built in Google search on the right end of my sidebar.

  3. Robincamilletoo

    Quick tip: if you’re using the Chrome browser (which, considering your feelings toward Google, you probably aren’t), you can add custom search engines.

    If you click command/control+L in Chrome’s URL bar, you can add Google Scholar as a search engine with the URL “http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%s” and define a shortcut, like “gscholar”, such that typing “gscholar information technology” will go straight to searching Google Scholar for that search string, instead of having to hunt for the link or click a bookmark.

  4. Mvdboomen

    Add to Search Bar is an extension for Firefox that allows you to add to your search menu bar *any search bar of any page* as an option (not only bog search engines but also the most obscure sites). Once Google Scholar is there you never ever have to see Google’s general page again, and you can switch your search (from say Google to Wikipedia to amazon to Pirate Bay) without having to retype your search words.

    Highly recommended!

    best

    Marianne

  5. Try duckduckgo.com and enter !gsc after your query…

    The return of Google Scholar :-)

  6. A Facebook User

    Scholar is back again as a “More” drop-down menu selection. I never realized that this was there. Thank you for pointing this out! I was getting sick of punching “scholar” into a Google search to access the service. I do seem to recall Google Scholar having some other link button that made it even easier than picking it from a drop-down menu but I’m not sure.

    In my opinion, the Google Scholar service could be improved by adding a citation feature. For example, at least two online universities I know of use a service called ProQuest which has an automatic citation feature. This produces a text citation in various APA/MLA formats which can be copy/pasted into my a paper. It helps me a great deal in organizing my references quickly. Getting references together is usually an ongoing process through the course of writing a paper. However, being able to leap quickly over the hurdles of properly annotating the references/bibliography portion has a notable impact on fluidity and incorporation of important references.

  7. A Facebook User

    Hi, same “A Facebook User” from above here. Well, Scholar “was” there in the “more” dropdown menu but has disappeared for me again. I tried reloading my web browser but that didn’t help. Okay… just looked at my laptop and the “Scholar” link is there in nice shiny blue text using the IE web browser. It is the fourth link down in the drop down “More” menu. Ahh, interesting: when I check it on Firefox from my desktop I can see the Scholar link in the dropdown menu just fine. There seems to be some display differences between browsers and it’s not exclusively missing from IE. Also can’t prove at this time that it will fail on Firefox. I assume it has something to do with various internet privacy/security/display settings. –Logan