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Intriguing behavior when testing the impact of quotation marks usage in Google search results

Abstract

Internet research on search engine quality and validity of results demand much concern. Thus, the focus in our study has been to measure the impact of quotation marks usage on the internet search outputs in terms of Google search outcomes’ distributions, through Benford Law. The current paper is focused on applying a Benford Law analysis on two related types of internet searches distinguished by the usage or absence of quotation marks. Both search results values are assumed as variables. We found that the first digit of outcomes does not follow the Benford Law first digit of numbers in the case of searching text without quotation marks. Unexpectedly, the Benford Law is obeyed when quotation marks are used, even if the variability of search outcomes is considerably reduced. By studying outputs demonstrating influences of (apparently at first) “details”, in using a search engine, the authors are able to further warn the users concerning the validity of such outputs.

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Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Roxana Herteliu-Iftode and Gurjeet Dhesi who gave us many useful suggestions regarding the grammar and language style used in the paper.

Funding

This work has been performed in the framework of COST Action IS1104 ‘The EU in the new economic complex geography: models, tools and policy evaluation’. Moreover, this paper is part of scientific activities in COST Action TD1210’Analyzing the dynamics of information and knowledge landscapes (KNOWeSCAPE)’ and COST Action TD1306 “New Frontiers of Peer Review (PEERE)”.

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Correspondence to Bogdan Vasile Ileanu.

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Ileanu, B.V., Ausloos, M., Herteliu, C. et al. Intriguing behavior when testing the impact of quotation marks usage in Google search results. Qual Quant 53, 2507–2519 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-018-0771-0

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Keywords

  • Benford law
  • Google search
  • Head of the world states
  • Quotation marks