Google Scholar made a big splash a few months back when it rolled out case law and law journals as an option within its Advanced Search function. People “buzzed” around the new service, wondering if it would be the big “Wexis” killer with its free format. While it has taken some pot-shots in the comparison tests, Scholar is still a more than viable means of securing legal information and is getting better by the day.
Google has taken another giant step closer to besting the big guys with its roll-out of free Alerts for Google Scholar results. Activating an Alert is as simple as running a search and following a few simple steps. After getting positive results, look for the envelope icon on the upper left corner of the page. Click the icon, select the number of entries you wish displayed and that is pretty much it. Alerts work for traditional Scholar results and, most importantly, legal cases and journals!
Alerts will bring you new material as it is entered into the database based on your search query and parameters. Advanced searching is available for Alerts to the same extent available in a regular search. While you cannot limit your Alert to results from a smaller subset of sources, you can limit Alerts by author’s name or part of a name or from pre-built “collections” listed on the Advanced Search page.
While only available via email for now, Google likely won’t stop at that delivery source. As with traditional Google search alerts, I expect RSS feeds will be coming down the road.
I am unaware of how frequently Google updates its information or the length of the time span between information creation and entry into the Google Scholar system. One of the benefits of paid services is the quick turnaround time on data entry. Of course, speed is an issue with respect to discoverying new case law on a particular question. But, as a supplemental means of securing FREE notifications on legal searches as they happen on issues that do not require up-to-the-minute updates, it seems to me to be impossible to beat Google’s combination of price and service!
Kudos, Google, to further tilting the legal research playing field in your direction!
Hat tip to Resource Shelf.