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

Publication Date



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.


College and Research Libraries


Pre-print version. This article is expected to be published in July 2013.