Could There Be Some Viable Challengers to Google Scholar on the Horizon? | Absolutely Maybe

by Hilda Bastian

In 2019, I wrote a pair of posts about the risks of our reliance on Google Scholar (GS), and search engine alternatives for systematic reviewers. Back then, a thorough assessment of 28 searchable collections of academic records found only 2 that were large enough to come anywhere close to GS’ scope – the Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG) and WorldWideScience (WWS). And of those, only Microsoft indexed citations so you could search those as well. What’s more, MAG’s corpus was open, so you could download results – which you can’t in GS – or even the whole lot to use in creating something else.

But Microsoft canned Academic Search at the end of 2021. The exercise may have largely been a testing ground for the company’s “AI” search aspirations. Now it’s started a chatbot-driven arms race between its search engine, Bing, and Google. Meanwhile, Google’s cutting jobs and their search engine already seemed to be circling the drain, over-stuffed with ads and Google-surfaced content. It’s even easier to picture GS joining the long list of products scrapped by Google.

I rely on GS on a lot, and all the talk of threats to Google financial standing is making me nervous. So it was definitely time to see whether there are any viable, free-to-use, alternatives spanning all fields now – or even on the distant horizon. And I’ve ended up a lot more relieved – even optimistic – than I expected to be!