UPDATE: Here’s a valuable overview and critique of this new service.
from Peter Suber’s indispensable Open Access News blog:
Tomorrow Google will launch the beta version of Google Scholar, although it is online today for use. From the press release: ‘[W]e are excited to announce Google Scholar, a free search service that helps users find scholarly literature such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts, and technical reports. This service will be available tomorrow morning….Like Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders search results by relevancy to ensure the most useful references appear at the top of the page. This ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article’s author, the publication in which the article appeared, and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature….Whenever possible, Google searches across the full text of a paper, not just the abstract….Google Scholar offers relevant results for a wide range of scholarly materials including research that isn’t yet online. For instance much of Einstein’s work isn’t online, but it is heavily cited by other researchers. Google Scholar leverages these citations to make users aware of important papers or books that are not online, yet may be available in their local library.’
(PS: This is an important development. It will make OA literature even more visible and retrievable than it already is. It will give authors new incentives to make their work OA. It will help readers find what they need. Because it indexes work that is not online, even non-OA publishers will have an incentive to participate, making it more and comprehensive and useful. When you run a search, Google Search labels each hit by the number of citations it has, presumably from other works in the index. It also lets you click through to a new page showing just those citing works. Authors and publishers: see the FAQ for instructions on how to make sure that your work is included.)