To: Google support
Topic: Please reinstate subject area selection in Google Scholar
My name is Alexandru Iosup and I am writing you as one of the thousands of academics using Google Scholar (GS). Recently, your subject area selection--the feature that allowed for a GS search to be conducted only for papers in fields such as "Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics"--has stopped working. Specifically, the results seem not to be filtered anymore by subject area. Could you please restore the subject area selection to the working status it had between at least 2007 and 2011?
The problem with the new subject area selection is that searching for one's publications and impact through third-party tools, such as Publish or Perish, has become very difficult. Especially for people with common names, the results are polluted with cross-disciplinary listings that are difficult to filter manually. Without good filtering, the list of publications and academic impact metrics resulting from GS searches can become meaningless.
The impact of this problem is significant to thousands of academics, and especially to junior academics.
Although GS now provides researcher pages that can be curated by individuals--I have one and I like it--, GS does not have a feature to allow several researchers to be compared head-to-head.
Instead of GS, in the academia evaluators often use third-party tools, such as Harzing's Publish or Perish, to compare multiple candidates for academic positions and for promotions.
Because all of these automated third-party tools use GS to search for results and rely on GS's subject area selection to filter these results, this problem affects not only myself, but also the academia at large (http://www.harzing.com/pophelp/faqsubjectareas.htm?source=pop_37edit).
The problems raised by GS's new subject area selection affect more severely the junior academics, whose assessment is more likely to be based solely on publication lists rather than on established reputation in the field.
To conclude this long email, thank you for your time and please consider restoring the working subject area selection in Google Scholar.
With best regards,
Delft, Aug 21, 2012