I have to admit, I was pretty thrilled to first hear about Google Scholar Citations, a new tool from Google that helps scholars track their journal citation stats -- even more so when it was opened to the public last month.
After all, as it says somewhere in my bio, I'm a "recovering academic." Long before I was an ed-tech blogger, I was a PhD candidate. And back then, I wrote a lot too. I had a nice-looking CV with a couple of journal and book publications. I quit. Whatever.
I've left a lot of that world behind. And who cares, as a tech journalist, what I think about Guy Debord and the Situationists, right? Who cares about my articles on the Biotic Baking Brigade?
Nevertheless, as ego and SEO demand, I figured I'd create my Google Scholar Citations account, just to see how often some of my writing from long-ago was cited. And, I won't lie, now that so much of the Google search algorithm wants to tap into my "social" search (my Circles, my Google Profile and the like), I thought it might not be a bad idea to connect some old academic stuff to the new me.
But when I created my Google Scholar Citations account this weekend, I ran into two problems:
1) My name has changed since I first published. This isn't that uncommon a problem. It's something faced by many married (divorced, and/or widowed) women -- or at least, that's the source of my name-change. It happens: I published first under one name. Now I publish under another. Google Scholar Citations did pull a number of articles published under my "old name" that it surmised correctly were mine -- these were PDF copies of my old academic papers I have posted on my own domain. But Google's Scholar Citation search missed everything I'd published while in grad school, no doubt because I'd done so under a different name. I could, in all fairness to Google, still add these citations manually to my profile. (And I did.)
2) I can't be verified. I don't have an .edu email address any longer. That's required in order for Google to verify my account and make my Scholar Citations profile public and searchable. The sign-up form asked for "affiliation" too. I left that question blank, even though the University of Oregon was the institution I attended when I wrote these pieces. I'm not really affiliated with the UO now (even though I talk about them all the time lately -- thanks football team! thanks Lariviere!) There's no way for me to be able to bypass this requirement like there is for me to manually add my other-name citations.
I really love the idea of Google Scholar Citations -- love being able to see the network of citations from mine and others' scholarship. As much as I get irked by name-change stumbling blocks, I'm willing to overlook some of the problems with getting authorship right (that's a metadata issue, perhaps). But the problem with verifying who's actually a scholar seems a deeper one.
Only recognizing .edu email addresses limits what constitutes scholarship to academia (or to those universities that extend their alumni lifetime email). A lot of scholarship takes place outside the .edu domain. And a lot of scholarship is undertaken by those who only briefly get to claim a .edu address.