Private Companies and Scholarly Infrastructure: The Question of Google Scholar
Google Scholar has become an important piece of academic infrastructure. Not only is it used in searching for academic publications, but its bibliometric system has become critical in the evaluation of scholars for hiring and funding. Its success stems from the fact that Google Scholar appears to organize scholarly information better than scholars have managed to so themselves, and its usability is dramatically better than other academic search and bibliometric services. 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; how comprehensive its citations are; and the different ways bibliometrics systems have been taken up by researchers and for the evaluation of publications, scholars, journals, and universities. However, we take a different approach and analyze the political and ethical dimensions of infrastructural shift into a corporate platform operating on the basis of different commercial logics, with limited transparency or accountability.