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preliminary assessment of Google Scholar as a source of EAP students' research materials"

Rena Helms-Park, Pavlina Radia, and Paul Stapleton "A preliminary 
assessment of Google Scholar as a source of EAP students' 
research materials" The Internet and Higher Education (2007) 
Article in Press, Corrected Proof Copyright 2006 Elsevier Inc 
Available online 22 January 2007.


While the use of a search engine to find secondary sources is now 
a commonplace practice among undergraduate writers, recent 
studies show that students' online searches often lead to 
materials that are wholly or partially unsuitable for academic 
purposes. Accordingly, this project set out to determine whether 
using a more specialized search engine, Google Scholar, would 
lead to qualitative differences in the sources selected by 
second-language (L2) students working on a research-based 
assignment in a first-year English for Academic Purposes (EAP) 
course. The participants in this study (N = 27) were required to 
submit an annotated bibliography consisting of ten sources, 
sought from print or electronic media, on their research topic. 
Students were required to indicate how these sources were located 
(e.g., Google, Google Scholar, the university library's catalogue 
of electronic resources, or a traditional search for print 

Three independent raters, who were not given any information on 
the search mechanisms used, evaluated each electronic source (N = 
72) using WATCH, an analytic website assessment scale, 
[Stapleton, P., & Helms-Park, R. (2006). Evaluating Web sources 
in an EAP course: Introducing a multi-trait instrument for 
feedback and assessment. English for specific Purposes, 25(4) 
438-455.]. Mann-Whitney comparisons revealed no significant 
differences between sources obtained through Google Scholar and 
the university library's catalogue of electronic resources (p set 
at 0.05). On the other hand, there were significant differences 
between Google Scholar and Google sources, as well as between 
electronic sources obtained through the library and Google, in 
key areas such as academic rigor and objectivity.

Chuck Hamaker
Associate University Librarian Collections and Technical Services
Atkins Library
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Charlotte, NC 28223