I am attempting to identify how Google Scholar chooses which publications to rank highly in search results.

I'm aware that Google Scholar uses metadata from academic websites, but therein my understanding of the process ends.

My query: What parts of Google Scholar's process for indexing and ranking search results is public, and where can that information be found?

2 Answers 2


Here is what the about page says:

Google Scholar aims to rank documents the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature.

Here is an academic article that attempted to deconstruct the ranking algorithm: Beel et al 2009, PDF

They suggest that two key factors were the citation count (more citations pushes the article higher up the search list) and the search term appearing in the title. They review a wide range of features. Note that the article is 10 years old and the algorithm has presumably been updated over the years.


  • Beel, J., & Gipp, B. (2009, July). Google Scholar’s ranking algorithm: an introductory overview. In Proceedings of the 12th international conference on scientometrics and informetrics (ISSI’09) (Vol. 1, pp. 230-241).

I think it is part of Googles business model to keep that information secret. If they specified how the rank is calculated people would try to game the system and it would become less useful.

  • The algorithm, which is what they keep confidential, is just one component in a process. Looking at how they do search rankings on their traditional search engine, you can find other factors including the popularity of sites and the money spent on promotion. I'm just unclear on what, if anything, they have likewise disclosed about the process for google scholar. I don't want to extend those details revealed on their main service without evidence they also apply.
    – Stephen R
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 13:32

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