Google, everbody’s darling these days, has released a few really good and a few rather nasty web products (i especially distaste the whole GMail-Crap, its intrusive, its unsecure, it does not have that many features. Just get an IMAP-Account somewhere and use whatever client you wish, and don’t have your emails scanned and indexed…).
Google Scholar is something cool and more than useful for a change. It is a search engine for scientific papers, articles, books. Of course it uses the same smart search algorithms Google Web uses, but it does have some additional nice features. First of all you can click a link below an article and Google displays a ready-to-copy-n-paste BiBTex-entry. If the article is available free of charge it links directly to a PDF or the download site. If it is not you can try to search the web, sometimes this really brings up freely available files. In the course of my Proseminar i have to write an article about a paper published back in 1982 in the IEEE Transactions on Computers. Now, its been quite some time since 1982, and you can imagine that I am not the first one referencing this article. Google Scholar shows how many other works in its search engine have cited the paper you searched for, which is interesting because this way you can quickly browse how a certain topic has developed over time.
Why use it when there are search engines like CiteSeer, and the ones provided by IEEE and ACM? Well, first of all Google’s library is pretty big, and its so much more easier to use. The interface is the one you are already accustomed to, which means very minimalistic and clear.
Well, try it yourself!