I admit that my computers have Google search boxes at the ready all the time. But recently I read something about jux2, which tries to combine the best results from Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Live Search. These search engines had the top U.S. search engine shares according to Nielsen Online’s December 2008 data. However, comparisons of search results suggest there is less overlap between search results using these search engines than most people might expect (“typically sharing fewer than 3.5 of their top 10 results”).
Well, so I tried jux2. I wasn’t that impressed, but you should try it for yourself.
My test was “swine flu” and I liked Google’s results, because the Centers for Disease Control’s page was the first result listed. Yahoo at least had it within the first 5 results. All three search engines returned Wikipedia as one of the first resources, of course. I was still very satisfied with what I got using Google.
UC Berkeley’s Library has a web page on “Recommended Search Engines” that lists Google, Yahoo, and Exalead. They note that searching Google alone is not always sufficient, and recommend getting a “second opinion” using another search engine. You should also note, as they do, that “The contents of most of the searchable databases mounted on the web, such as library catalogs and article databases, are excluded because search engine spiders cannot access them. All this material is referred to as the “Invisible Web” — what you don’t see in search engine results.
However, for those concerned about searching for academic resources, things may be changing. The article “How Scholarly Is Google Scholar? A Comparison to Library Databases” (College and Research Libraries, May 2009) “found that Google Scholar is, on average, 17.6% more scholarly than materials found only in library databases and that there is no statistically significant difference between the scholarliness of materials found in Google Scholar across disciplines.” Why isn’t this worrying me? Well, you still need access to the full text of the articles and other resources a discovery tool like Google Scholar lists–yup, usually subscription resources you access through your library.