Google's Scholarly Search Service and Institutional OA Self-Archiving

From: Leslie Carr <>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 09:55:08 +0000

Google's new scholarly search service (http:/// may
deliver to the scientific and scholarly worlds some of the facilities
that the OA community have been labouring over - most specifically a
search service which is limited to scholarly and scientific resources
but which unites material from all web sites within that domain across
the complete spectrum of scholarly enquiry. It also provides a basic
(but highly welcome) level of citation analysis so that individual
papers are listed with an entry which indicates how many citations
they have received. As far as gross coverage goes, a search for the
definite article indicates that 315 million articles (or at least,
citable scholarly artefacts) have been indexed - a figure that appears
to correspond to 13 years of the world's scientific and scholarly
peer-reviewed research journal output. (Doubtless further analyses will
soon show a more accurate interpretation of this figure and the relative
coverage of each discipline.)

It may be tempting to suggest that in the face of such an overwhelming
resource, there is little point in putting continued effort into
Institutional Archiving, with its administrative overheads and individual
metadata entry requirements for each paper. After all, with Google on the
job, all we apparently need to do is to encourage individual researchers
to leave a copy of their papers on the web! This is, after all, in line
with Harnad's original "Subversive Proposal" from ten years ago.

However, we need to bear in mind some crucial factors

    (a) Google is indexing data from commercial publishers as well as the
    open web - and so it may still be impossible for any individual to
    read the vast majority of articles that are returned as the result of
    a query (again, more thorough analysis will give a better indication).

    (b) Most researchers aren't even putting their articles on the web let
    alone in a managed institutional repository (and for the same reasons
    - they don't see the need, they are worried about copyright etc etc).

So Google is not offering increased Open Access, just improved resource
discovery of current ad-hoc OA. To advance we still need to offer carrot
and stick, policies and mandates, and that is one of the places where
a managed Institutional Archive comes into its own. An institutional
archive offers many advantages to the institution in terms of research
management, reporting, statistics gathering, publicity and research
assessment. These institutional benefits mean that the institutional
support, policies and mandates are more likely to be forthcoming, which in
turn WILL DIRECTLY increase the amount of open access material available.
(Of course it's not all stick! The carrot comes in the form of improved
impace, automatically generated CVs, up-to-date bibliographies on
personal web pages and the enormous relief of automatic data collection
for institutional bean-counters - an enter-once system which caters for
the many uses to which researchers need to apply their output.)

Google, of course, indexes entries in Institutional Archives! Whether
EPrints or DSpace, these OA repositories are providing grist to Google's
mill. So the Google scholarly search engine is a welcome addition to
the arsenal of services that researchers use to mine the literature -
but it is still OA Institutional Repositories that provide the best
chance of getting readable copies of those papers into Google!

Les Carr
EPrints Development Manager & University of Southampton Institutional
Repository Manager
Received on Thu Nov 18 2004 - 09:55:08 GMT

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