I am a Masters student, in the Faculty of Science in Canada. I have a question to ask regarding literature review. I am doing a bit of studying to find protocols for my experiment (where I hope to conjugate a certain linker to a nucleic acid). I tried looking for papers with different keyword searches on Google Scholar, as well as the WebOfScience.

There could be different possibilities here - either there are no papers that have been published, or the Search Spider was not able to find the papers (which is a False Result).

I therefore tried looking for a paper which we had published 4-5 years back in Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. It does not show up in the search results, probably because it does not have enough citations (you can try by searching this paper on Google standard search, and on Google Scholar: Potential inhibitors against acetylcholinesterase and glutathione S-transferase associated with Alzheimer's disease).

Doesn't this give false hope to certain researchers, that the work they are currently doing is novel; or make it difficult for other researchers who are trying to find a protocol to adopt?

Hoping to get some insight from the community.

  • I would be surprised if citations had anything to do with Google's indexing system. Apr 22, 2017 at 8:03
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    Not Sure. But, it looks like a lot of papers do not show up on Google's or the WebOfKnowledge Databases. Therefore, my scepticism lies in how much of papers/works that have not been accounted for. Does it mean that one would need to go through all possible databases to come to a conclusion whether a work has been previously done or not? This seems like an awful lot of work to do even in the age of computers. And there is always a possibility that one might miss out on certain sites.
    – Somdeb
    Apr 22, 2017 at 10:59
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    I won't put this as an answer as it may not be right. Your paper appears in the journal "Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research" by the publisher Omics. Both the publisher and the Journal are considered to 'predatory journals' (e.g. bradleymonk.com/Beall%27s_List_of_Questionable_Journals). I believe that Google Scholar, WoS, Scopus, etc do not list these types of journals.
    – tea4two
    Apr 22, 2017 at 14:50
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    @semdeb - well to some extent, all work is science isn't novel as it's built on the work of others. In my field (marine biology) there are many papers that use tools that have been used before to answer questions that have been asked elsewhere. What makes each study novel is that they may run things a little differently, or apply a tool/method to a new species/location/situation, cross between theoretical and empirical work, etc. The only conflict that may arise if you 1) cite a paper from a predatory journal (it may not be allowed) or 2) you copy from a paper in the hope no-one spots it
    – tea4two
    Apr 23, 2017 at 18:54
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    @Somdeb, when you ask about novelty and copyright, then that is a completely different question, worthy of a new post on Academia SE. If you post a new question on that and tag me (maybe by mentioning me in a comment), I'll be happy to offer a response; you'll probably get lots of good responses from others as well.
    – Tripartio
    Apr 23, 2017 at 20:40

2 Answers 2


Although you asked a generic question, the answer is very particular to your own particular article. Most likely, @HoboSci, got the correct answer: you published in a journal of questionable ethical editorial policy that Google Scholar refuses to index. That is, "Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research" is probably such a journal (see https://bradleymonk.com/Beall%27s_List_of_Questionable_Journals).

I looked up the issue where your own article is published: JOCPR Volume 6 Issue 3: http://www.jocpr.com/archive/jocpr-volume-6-issue-3-year-2014.html. I searched Google Scholar for your article "Potential inhibitors against acetylcholinesterase and glutathione S-transferase associated with alzheimer's disease". I also searched for a couple other articles in that same special issue and none of them showed up in Google Scholar.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything you can do about it because once you've published in a journal like that, you can't republish the same article anywhere else. So,the lesson is to only publish your work in reputable journals, or else your published work might become almost invisible on the Web. :-(

  • Could OP republish the abstract on his own webpage, with plenty of helpful keywords? Do you think that might help? Apr 23, 2017 at 23:39
  • I doubt that would help. The full article is already on ResearchGate, which is well indexed by Google Scholar, yet Google Scholar still doesn't list the article. So, I doubt posting something on their personal page would help. I suspect that once Google Scholar detects the journal name, it refuses to index the article. Perhaps one way to get it on Google Scholar would be to remove the journal citation information from ResearchGate.
    – Tripartio
    Apr 24, 2017 at 7:53
  • It looks like; the question has been changed. But, my question was not concerning my published paper. It was only an example. As I had explained in the description that I am doing some literature review for my project, however, I am unable to find protocols for some of the steps. Hence, I was just wondering whether there aren't any protocols or if the indexing service doesn't pull up papers. I guess @Tripartio mentioned it in his answer, that the papers could be in unreputable journals. But, even if they were in unreputable journals I could at least have an idea about the procedure for my expt
    – Somdeb
    Apr 24, 2017 at 17:41
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    @Somdeb, the point is that there is no generic answer that fits all situations. There are many reasons why any particular article might not be indexed that you otherwise might suppose to be. You have to specify the exact article and then investigate the exact reason. So, for the example you gave, we gave the specific reason to the best of our ability. If on the other hand, your question is, "How can I trust that if I don't find something on Google Scholar, how can I be sure that it doesn't exist?", then that is a completely different question. (Short answer: you can't)
    – Tripartio
    Apr 24, 2017 at 20:27
  • @Tripartio Thanks for the answer now it is a lot clear. Sorry, I did not get back earlier.
    – Somdeb
    Jul 30, 2018 at 6:27

This probably has nothing to do with predatory publishers or with the number of citations. Google Scholar has no quality requirements - it indexes anything and everything. This is unlike Web of Knowledge, which does have quality requirements, and also why Jeffrey Beall has said Google Scholar is full of junk science. What's likely is that the publisher didn't provide Google Scholar with what it needs.

Although Google Scholar has no quality requirements, it does have certain technical requirements before its bots can even crawl the journal's website. A key requirement is that Google users must see at least the complete abstract or the first full page. There are other technical requirements, as can be seen on this page.

Since it's not hard to get indexed by Google Scholar, it is something that authors should demand from publishers, and if the publisher does not do this, authors should approach another publisher. However since you can't retract the article, the next best thing to do is to host it on your institutional website (see the "Individual Authors" section in the last link for more details). If you don't have a website, you can also hand the article to your university repository. There's probably nothing you can do to get indexed by Web of Science however, other than hope the journal someday gets indexed by SCI.

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