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Summon vs. Google Scholar

Google Scholar has long served as a comprehensive, cross-discipline database. It indexes citations from a variety of sources and includes many different kinds of sources, such as articles and books. Now Summon offers an alternative.


Google Scholar indexes content from many publishers, but it does not list what those publishers are. You can guess some content providers based on search results, i.e. the many results from IEEE implies IEEE Xplore is being indexed. It does not list how often new content is indexed nor what percentage of the total content from a publisher is included.

Summon lists the publishers and database providers who participate. It has detailed lists of what date ranges of a journal are included and what percentage of our subscription databases are included. Summon provides regular communications about what new or expanded content is included.

Specialized content

Google Scholar includes content from Google Books in its search results. Many of these scanned books are also part of the Hathi Trust catalog, which is indexed full-text in Summon.

Summon includes links to citing articles from Web of Science. Google Scholar lists the number of citing articles, but it neither de-duplicates nor accounts for alternative forms of a citation like Web of Science does.

Summon includes records for all of our ebooks, regardless of their providers, and all of our print books listed in our catalog.

Access to content

By default, Google Scholar links a citation to the publisher's site. However, Virginia Tech may have access to that publication from another source. When you access Google Scholar from the campus network, or through Off Campus Sign In, or when you manually configure Google Scholar to use Get VText links, you will be directed to the best source for content based on our subscriptions. Google Scholar certainly contains citations to materials that are not part of our subscriptions; you would need to use interlibrary loan to obtain these documents.

Summon knows which journal subscriptions we have and the databases we subscribe to. Plus it includes all the records for books, journals, videos and more from Addison. An initial search of Summon includes content to which we should have access, either online or in print. You can choose to include content beyond our library's subscriptions; these items would then be requested through interlibrary loan.

Scholarly content

Both Google Scholar and Summon include content from a variety of sources. Summon interfaces with the Ulrich's Periodical Directory database to identify scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, and allows you to limit to these journals quickly on a search results page.


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