The Next Google Scholar? Scholrly’s Potential for Locating Non-Patent Literature

Scholrly is a free search engine for academic writing that we first heard about back in the summer of 2012, and the public Beta version of this site was recently released in early January 2013, after six months of private beta testing. The service currently covers the field of computer science, but the creators plan to eventually expand the coverage of the service. Back in 2012, I wondered if Scholrly may one day replace Google Scholar as the easiest free search tool for quickly locating academic writing that may be used as non-patent literature (NPL) prior art by professional patent searchers.  I’ve finally gotten the chance to test the Scholrly search interface, and the hit list and full record views for both article and author results offer some unique data formatted in very useful displays for quickly locating related articles and authors. The quick and advanced search options on Scholrly are very run-of-the-mill, though, and no secondary filtering options are offered in the hit list.

After the jump, learn about the search and display features for the new Scholrly search engine, and see how it measures up to Google Scholar!

Search Tools 

From the Scholrly homepage, users can choose from two search forms:

  • Quick Search – This basic keyword search form allows users to enter a word or phrase as a query.
  • Advanced Search – This fielded search form is accessible by selecting the small arrow icon within the quick search form to expand the advanced search options. Users can search by author, date range, words included/excluded from the article (or exact phrases), words included/excluded from the title (or exact phrases), and words included/excluded from the abstract (or exact phrases).
The advanced search options on Scholrly.

The advanced search options on Scholrly.

The homepage also includes a short list of featured publications and featured authors.

Display Options

Search results are divided into two columns: Publications and Authors.

The Scholrly hit list, divided into Publications and Authors columns.

The Scholrly hit list, divided into Publications and Authors columns.

The Publications column includes basic bibliographic data and abstract for each result, and users can expand the result in the column to view document download options. Select the publication title to view the full record, which includes:

  • Link to full text
  • Full citation data that can be copied and pasted (BibTeX)
  • Bibliographic data dashboard (abstract, keywords, and authors)
  • Citation list
  • “Cited by” list
  • List of venues
The full article record on Scholrly.

The full article record on Scholrly.

The Authors column lists the author name, related publication, and each result in the column can be expanded to view numbers of papers published and total citations. Select the author name to view the full record, which includes:

  • Author name
  • Publication dashboard (bibliographic data for publications and names of co-authors)
  • List of affiliations
  • List of published venues
The full author record on Scholrly.

The full author record on Scholrly.


The very limited coverage of the Scholrly portal currently makes the search system useful only for users who need to locate academic papers in the computer science field, whereas the very broad coverage of Google Scholar is useful for patent searchers conducting prior art searches for all types of technology.  Although the creators of Scholrly hope to expand the coverage of the system to include additional disciplines, Scholrly is currently no match for the broad NPL coverage available through Google Scholar.  Additionally, professional patent searchers will have access to a wide range of subscription non-patent literature databases, which should be thoroughly searched in addition both broad and subject-specific free NPL databases.

The search capabilities of Scholrly are relatively basic, and the advanced search form for Scholrly is only superior to Google Scholar in the ability to search for keywords or phrases in the abstract of the article (in addition to title and full-text keyword searches, which both portals allow).  The hit list for Scholrly lacks any additional filtering or sorting options for either the Publications or Authors results, while Google Scholar includes a side menu with additional filtering and sorting choices beside the search results.  The division of the search results on Scholrly into both author and publication lists is an interesting new feature that is not available on Google Scholar, and users may be able to locate useful related results by exploring author publication lists or publications by co-authors.  Google Scholar also includes the option to view publication lists and statistics for some specific authors, although these lists are not available for all authors of every publication.

Overall, the Scholrly interface has some search and display benefits when compared to Google Scholar (especially when browsing by author), but the system is still in a testing phase and therefore offers very limited coverage at this time.  I’d continue to check on the progress of Scholrly to see if it eventually offers more coverage which will make it a competitive tool to Google Scholar.

How do you think Scholrly compares to Google Scholar as a non-patent literature search tool?  Let us know in the comments!


Patent Information from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


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