Re: Scientometric OAI Search Engines

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 17:37:23 +0100

On Wed, 5 May 2004, Robert Kiley wrote:

> It is recognised that there are here are two ways to provide OA:
> (1) publishing articles in OA journals and
> (2) publishing them in conventional journals but self-archiving them
> publicly on the web as well.
> One problem with route 2 that doesn't seem to have been fully addressed
> is how should the PubMed or Web of Knowledge user find these open access
> articles.

It is quite natural to think this might be a problem, but in fact it is not:

(a) The very reason the OAI protocol was created in 1999 was to solve
this problem. All OAI-compliant documents
are interoperable, and can be collectively harvested and jointly searched.

(b) PubMed Central announced that it would become OAI-compliant in 2003:

    "PubMed Central OAI-compliance"

(c) ISI's Web of Knowledge is not yet OAI-compliant, but there is no reason
it cannot become OAI-compliant -- and indeed ISI is collaborating with citeseer
(which Lee Giles hoped would also soon become OAI-compliant: ), and may in
the future also collaborate with citebase,
which is already full OAI-compliant:

(d) Even before or without OAI-compliance, there is no reason why all the Open
Access (OA) papers cannot be jointly indexed by an indexing service, along with
non-OAI papers: Elsevier's Scirus already does this,
and Elsevier's Scopus will
undoubtedly do so too.

So, as you see, there is no problem. It is just a matter of coverage. If Elsevier
can cover the growing OA corpus, Pubmed and ISI can certainly do so too. And then
their users will have seamless access to both OA and non-OA contents jointly.
Whatever contents PubMed harvests, it covers; moreover, if PubMed is
OAI-compliant, its own contents can be harvested and covered, by other

Moreover, as also discussed in this Forum lately, google and yahoo are also
taking steps to make themselves more useful in this regard, with special
arrangements being made for covering the OA literature.

> By way of example let us assume I stumble across the
> following PubMed article:
> Harnad S. Ingelfinger over-ruled...
> cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11191471
> [published in the Lancet] {Had this article appeared in a more recent
> issue - then PubMed would have linked directly to ScienceDirect and
> access would be limited to subscribers']
> Of course the author has self archived this article:
> ...but how would the PubMed user know this? Do we honestly expect users
> to search PubMed and then go and search the OAIster service in the hope
> that an open access version may be available.

No. The sensible thing is for PubMed (like scirus and scopus and eventually ISI
too) to harvest the metadata from OAIster and other OA sources such as
and thereby to provide the kind of comprehensive coverage that will be most
helpful to its users. (CogPrints is of course covered by OAIster, Scirus, etc.
and google even covers the papers on author's home websites -- though
OAI-compliance would help the visibility and harvestability of those papers!)

> I agree that route 2 is a way to provide open access - but at the same
> time we must ensure that the major bibliographic services (PubMed, Web
> of Knowledge etc) provide links to the open access version - as well as
> the publisher version. Is there any strategy for addressing this?

There is indeed. See above.

So the real problem is not how to cover and search the proportion of
papers for which self-archived OA versions exist, but how to fast-forward
us to providing OA for 100% of our papers!

For this I can only requote Swan & Brown (2004) who

    "asked authors to say how they would feel if their employer or funding
    body required them to deposit copies of their published articles in
    one or more... repositories. The vast majority... said they would
    do so willingly."

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey


Stevan Harnad

> Relevant prior threads:
> "Re: proposed collaboration: google + open citation linking"
> "Economic effects of link-based search engines on e-journals"
> "A Search Engine for Searching Across Distributed Eprint Archives"
> "Testing the citation-ranking search engine: Citebase"
> "Scientometric OAI Search Engines"
> "Need for systematic scientometric analyses of open-access data"
> "How to compare research impact of toll- vs. open-access research"
Received on Wed May 05 2004 - 17:37:23 BST

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