I enjoy that Google finds things I've written that I would never bother to link on my own web page, just because it's nice to have all my writing collected somewhere given I've made the effort. But given that academics often assess each other from Google Scholar, I'm worried that my "year" index is getting cluttered and makes it look like no one cites my recent work. Of course, some people allow Google to automatically list discovered works and have their indices full of articles that aren't even theirs, but that's obviously unimpressive.

If you are the kind of person that clicks "year" on Google Scholar to see what an academic does lately, and you were checking the Scholar page of someone you were thinking of hiring, funding, or working with, would you be put off by fluffy articles like book reviews, conference abstracts, and popular science mixed with good ones?

  • hardly anyone knows to click year and it is perfectly usual for recent pubs to not have cites yet. I think people are more likely to look at the bar chart as you have no choice but to see this item. – If you do not know- just GIS Dec 22 '15 at 18:35

Personally, I think that it is important to let one's Google Scholar index all of one's work.

When I am assessing a colleague, I will often exclusively use their Google Scholar page, since every other search method I am currently aware of is either a) badly cluttered with not-their-work or b) tends to leave out significant "non-traditional" works such as white-papers, standards documents, workshops, and books. I use both the "Cited By" and "Year" orderings, the first to see if they have made an impact and the second to see how active they currently are.

When I see a lot of recent publications, I do not expect them to be much cited, particularly given potentially long publication delays and the fact that most scientific work draws little citation, even if it is good. Many publications, after all, are "bridging steps" that are important for building the foundations of high-impact publications but which may not be of interest outside of a very narrow group indeed.

What I would expect to see in a highly active researcher, then, is a couple of recent "hits" and a lot of recent publications with minimal citation. If, in fact, I saw a person who seemed to only have "hits" in their Google Scholar record, then I would find it very curious and think they might be engaging in strategic non-publication.

Obviously, I apply these standards to myself as well. Even if somebody can't be bothered to scroll down far enough to get to last year, they're at least likely to notice the recent citation statistics bar chart. Bottom line: I think that it is a good tradeoff to risk giving a mis-impression those few excessively careless readers in favor of giving a better impression to the more careful ones who are likely to actually be interested in the full list.

  • That's an interesting take that presumes all academics want google nosing about their lives. I know several that only selectively allow google to index. – Jim B Dec 23 '15 at 18:36
  • @JimB Personal life, sure, but openly published scientific works should be indexed and easily findable. – jakebeal Dec 23 '15 at 19:08
  • No, conference papers, etc (same stuff mentioned n Stuart Golodetz's answer) should not necessarily be found but published works, I agree should be findable in Google and Bing. – Jim B Dec 25 '15 at 3:44
  • @JimB Why do you think conference papers aren't significant published works? – jakebeal Dec 25 '15 at 4:50
  • Most of the time its something that ends up published later. – Jim B Dec 25 '15 at 5:41

Caveat: This is necessarily quite subjective.

Personally, I wouldn't necessarily downgrade my opinion of someone who had produced some really good work simply because they had also produced some other work that was comparatively less exciting. However:

  • I would be slightly concerned if their other work was actively wrong, rather than just unexciting -- it would make me wonder if there were also mistakes in their exciting work that just hadn't been spotted yet.

  • I might well view the person's Google Scholar page as less useful when it came to finding out what they'd been doing lately, and start searching for their research page instead.

I'm currently too junior to be assessing people for academic jobs, but if I were assessing someone, I wouldn't change a hire decision to a do not hire decision (or vice versa) based purely on the look of their Google Scholar page (or web page). I'd base any decision far more on things like the quality of their research (I'd read their publications), their ability to teach (I'd potentially get them to give a mock tutorial), their commitment to both research and teaching, and their overall attitude to other people and to learning.

On a separate note, it wouldn't surprise me much if very recent work hadn't received many citations (due to the inevitable lag time between when you publish something and when it gets cited -- people have to read your paper, do their own work and get it published before they can cite you).


I use GS in a couple of different ways but neither is really about assessment.

I am in one of those interdisciplinary areas where people who are more discipline focussed may have a couple of papers that are relevant to my work, but most of their research is not. So if I am using a reference that is say 5 years old, I will often use GS to have a look at everything that person has written to (1) identify whether they have a relevant research thread or just a couple of papers and (2) find the relevant papers. This is because a researcher's official website will typically list the papers that are important in their discipline, but may not list the 'random other ideas' type of paper. That is, the website is set up to present their main research, particularly if it is uses a department template.

From the other direction, I never allow GS to automatically add my papers and I don't necessarily permit everything that GS finds even it is mine. I obviously allow journal publications, but I only have more significant working papers, reports and conference presentations. Even those, I might combine (for example, if a conference paper is an early version of something then I might combine the two records so that someone following the conference paper can immediately find the more complete / later paper). In some sense I am trying to direct any searchers to what I think is the best description of my research.

So, back to your main point - would I get put off? I would get put off if someone had lots of minor work, even if they also had the major work. To me, this looks like padding. However, I came from a government/industry background, and many academic CVs look too long to me. Twelve pages of publications gives me the impression that the person has no ability to assess relevance or is too lazy to customise the CV. So I may not be the best judge.

  • Thanks. Your usage is very much like my own. I certainly merge old versions etc. One difference in academia is that you have PhD students, so I feel badly to take off minor works for me that are major works for them. But I certainly have two separate CVs, one for business & one for academia. As you see from other responses, academics can be very concerned about not losing work, so I guess the real question here is whether google scholar is that place that's a complete index, or whether it's become a CV and therefore needs more substantial curating / pruning. – Joanna Bryson Dec 23 '15 at 15:19
  • I gave this the bonus because it came the closest to actually answering my question (the last paragraph.) A lot of the other answers didn't really address the question but talked about how to use GS, which I already do. – Joanna Bryson Dec 26 '15 at 19:51

My rule of thumb for Google Scholar is that any piece of writing that is available in full goes on the Google Scholar profile. That includes working papers, newspaper articles, book reviews, etc. However, it does not include conference abstracts: in my opinion, those are teasers of work to come and so aren't substantial enough to be included.

In hiring decisions, I think the CV still trumps a candidate's Google Scholar page. With easily 100 applications for one position, it's just not feasible to look up everyone's profiles. If an article is not on the CV, it's the candidate's loss. There's really no cost to having a section at the end of the CV on non-academic writing, for example. Just as long as these articles are not mixed in with peer-reviewed publications. If someone's work lends itself to being grouped into different domains, then organizing publications into subsections seems sensible. Maybe that would also address the comment by @JenB about CVs that are too long? That is, maybe the objection is to clutter rather than length?

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