As health information professionals we are familiar with specialized resources such as PubMed and CINAHL but less familiar with general freely available tools such as Google, Google Scholar, and other open Google tools. We wondered:
1. What Google tools are Health Sciences Researchers and Healthcare Professionals using, and how are they using them?
2. How effective are Google and/or Google Scholar for literature searching?
3. What other research is needed in this area?
We searched for: ‘Google’ across five health sciences and health sciences related databases (CINAHL, Cochrane, PsycInfo, PubMed, Web of Science) and in Google Scholar (*For Google Scholar we searched: health AND google). We reviewed the first 100 citations from each database and selected results that: 1) Mentioned use of a Google tool, or 2) Discussed the effectiveness of Google or Google Scholar in scholarly literature searching. Out of the second group, we selected and read the 10 most relevant articles discussing the effectiveness of Google and/or Google Scholar for literature searching. We tried out recommended best practices to search for topics we had previously searched only in subject specific databases.
Health Sciences Researchers and Healthcare Professionals use many Google tools for a variety of purposes. Each tool was used in different ways by authors writing in the Health Sciences (see pie charts and examples in poster). Regarding literature searching the poster includes Google Scholar content sources, Top Search Strategies for Google Scholar, and Considerations for using Google Scholar for literature searching.
Health Science researchers use a variety of Google tools to gather and manipulate data, and to visualize and disseminate results. Health care professionals use Google tools to facilitate interventions and for interactive educational materials. For Literature searching our results encourage using Google Scholar to complement subject specific databases. Its unique content makes it a valuable resource for finding additional documents.