Finding Articles and Journals via Google Scholar, Journal Portals, and Link Resolvers

Lydia Dixon, Cheri Duncan, Jody Condit Fagan, Meris Mandernach, Stefanie E. Warlick


Finding journal titles and journal articles are two of the toughest tasks on academic library webpages. Challenges include choosing the best tools, using terms that make sense, and guiding the user through the process. In addition, the continued development of Google Scholar raises the question of whether it could become a better tool for finding a full-text article than link resolver software or journal portals. To study these issues, researchers at James Madison University analyzed results from two usability tests. One usability test focused on the library homepage navigation and had two tasks related to finding articles by citation and journals by title. The other test asked participants to find citations in three web interfaces: the library’s journal portal, Google Scholar, and the library’s link resolver form. Both usability studies revealed challenges with finding journal titles and journal articles. The latter study showed Google Scholar provided more effective user performance and user satisfaction than either the journal portal or the link resolver form. Based on the findings from the two usability studies, specific changes were made to the library webpages and to several library systems, including the catalog and link resolver form.

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