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06.08.2022 | Member News & Releases

Types of Errors Hiding in Google Scholar Data

May 31, 2022 – Google Scholar (GS) is a free tool that may be used by researchers to analyze citations; find appropriate literature; or evaluate the quality of an author or a contender for tenure, promotion, a faculty position, funding, or research grants. GS has become a major bibliographic and citation database. For assessing the literature, databases, such as PubMed, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Web of Science, can be used in place of GS because they are more reliable. The aim of this study was to examine the accuracy of citation data collected from GS and provide a comprehensive description of the errors and miscounts identified. For this purpose, 281 documents that cited 2 specific works were retrieved via Publish or Perish software (PoP) and were examined. This work studied the false-positive issue inherent in the analysis of neuroimaging data. The results revealed an unprecedented error rate, with 279 of 281 (99.3%) examined references containing at least one error. Nonacademic documents tended to contain more errors than academic publications (U=5117.0; P<.001). This viewpoint article, based on a case study examining GS data accuracy, shows that GS data not only fail to be accurate but also potentially expose researchers, who would use these data without verification, to substantial biases in their analyses and results. Further work must be conducted to assess the consequences of using GS data extracted by PoP.


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