Summon, EBSCO Discovery Service, and Google Scholar: A Comparison of Search Performance Using User Queries
Keywords:web-scale discovery, search engines, evaluation
Objectives - To evaluate and compare the results produced by Summon and EBSCO Discovery
Service (EDS) for the types of searches typically performed by library users at North Carolina State University. Also, to compare the performance of these products to Google Scholar for the same types of searches.
Methods - A study was conducted to compare the search performance of two web-scale discovery services: ProQuest’s Summon and EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS). The performance of these services was also compared to Google Scholar. A sample of 183 actual user searches, randomly selected from the NCSU Libraries’ 2013 Summon search logs, was used for the study. For each query, searches were performed in Summon, EDS, and Google Scholar. The results of known-item searches were compared for retrieval of the known item, and the top ten results of topical searches were compared for the number of relevant results.
Results - There was no significant difference in the results between Summon and EDS for either known-item or topical searches. There was also no significant difference between the performance of the two discovery services and Google Scholar for known-item searches. However, Google Scholar outperformed both discovery services for topical searches.
Conclusions - There was no significant difference in the relevance of search results between Summon and EDS. Thus, any decision to purchase one of those products over the other should be based upon other considerations (e.g., technical issues, cost, customer service, or user interface).
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