Ranking Black Scholars Using the Google Books Database

Last week JBHE reported our database rankings of black academics using the Google Scholar database. This database counts all references to particular scholars in the text, abstracts, and citations of scholarly papers printed in academic journals and also those posted on the Internet. On the Google Scholar database, Princeton University professor and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison led the rankings by a wide margin.

This week JBHE turns to the mentions of black scholars in the Google Books database. The popular online search engine has developed a tool that enables visitors to the site to search for names inside hundreds of thousands of books. Searches find references to scholars within the text, in footnotes, in the index, and in bibliographies of books.

According to JBHE’s count, Toni Morrison is mentioned 18,700 times in Google’s database of books. This is more than double the number of references to Professor Morrison in the Google Scholar database. As was the case in the Google Scholar rankings, poet bell hooks has the second-most mentions in Google Books. She is cited 12,100 times in the Google Books database.

Novelist Alice Walker ranks third with 11,500 mentions in books. Professor Cornel West of Princeton University is the highest-ranking black male scholar in the Google Books database. He has 9,710 mentions, about one half the level achieved by Toni Morrison. The poet Amiri Baraka ranks second among black men and fifth overall with 7,510 mentions.

Rounding out the top 10 black academics in the Google Books database are Henry Louis Gates Jr., Wole Soyinka, Thomas Sowell, John Hope Franklin, and Louis Sullivan.