Why does Google Scholar's "Sort by Date" feature give you a completely different number of papers? I'm not speaking about approximation, like here, I'm speaking of real numbers being 1000 times different.

If I search "genome sequence homomorphic encryption" (any time, sort by relevance, all the words,) I obtain about 5,030 papers. If I change to sort by date I obtain... 3 papers. Literally 3. Google Scholar changes my query to "genome sequence "homomorphic encryption" " (I mean, it puts "" before and after homomorphic encryption, searching for the whole expression instead of separate words). I can manually change the query to be the same as before, by either changing it directly or crafting the URL, but the number of papers remains 3.

I can change to "Everything" instead of "Only abstract" (I don't get why this option appears only when I set "sort by date", but whatever) and I get 724 results (or 596 if I use the modified query it automatically does).

I mean, it is not an approximation, it is simply a different set. Completely. As far as I can tell it simply takes the papers from the last 364 days, but I don't know for sure.

Moreover, the results aren't accurate. With sort by relevance, by adding the constraint "Since 2021", I get 281 results. Among the 724 results I obtain using the "sort by date" search, around 215 (and surely less than 220) are from less than 112 days ago, meaning that I have lost about 60 results in this way (it is more than 25%, it is huge).

Why? Like, it is completely idiotic. It should be very simple, the normal research contains the date, it is a very easy sorting to do. It is not like it does not know the date or it is unable to find it. And, more importantly is there a way to change it/use a workaround?


1 Answer 1


This is probably related to SEO associated with the .pdf file or webpage. These are basically "hidden metadata" used by Google to index its pages and know in which research by the user it should appear. If it has a date, Google will index it on "sort by date" by ascending order. If not, it will be excluded from this filter, as he cannot rank lack of information.

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