November 30, 2015

Preprint: Paths of Discovery: Comparing the Search Effectiveness of EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Google Scholar, and Conventional Library Resources


Comparing the Search Effectiveness of EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Google Scholar, and Conventional Library Resources (Preprint)


Andrew D. Asher
Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow for Scholarly Communications
The Bertrand Library, Bucknell University

Lynda M. Duke
Academic Outreach Librarian, Associate Professor, The Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University

Suzanne Wilson
Library Technology and Resources Director, The Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University


College and Research Libraries
This article is scheduled for publication in July 2013.


In 2011, researchers at Bucknell University and Illinois Wesleyan University compared the search efficacy of Serial Solutions Summon, EBSCO Discovery Service, Google Scholar and conventional library databases. Using a mixed-methods approach, qualitative and quantitative data was gathered on students’ usage of these tools. Regardless of the search system, students exhibited a marked inability to effectively evaluate sources and a heavy reliance on default search settings. On the quantitative benchmarks measured by this study, the EBSCO Discovery Service tool outperformed the other search systems in almost every category. This article describes these results and makes recommendations for libraries considering these tools.

Direct to Full Text (34 pages; PDF)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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