22 October 2015

Open Access Week: Tips for Finding OA Materials, Pt. 1

In order to carry out the case study I referenced in yesterday's post, I conducted a lot of online searches!  The main take-away from that exercise is that just because something is online doesn't mean it is necessarily easy to find!

So here are a few search tips for locating an Open Access version of a journal article of interest:

1. Start by searching in Google Scholar on the title of the journal article.  Google Scholar was specifically designed to index scholarly literature, so the results are more focused than a general Google search. The other advantage is that the results list will include a link to other "versions" of an item, if any were located.  This in turn will often lead you to an eprint in an institutional repository:

Example: Search for "Unpacking the Micro–Macro Nexus: Narratives of Suffering and Hope among Refugees from Burma Recently Settled in Australia" in Google Scholar.
- In the results list, click on the link to "All 5 versions" under the top entry.
- The second of the five versions listed links to "eprints.qut.edu.au" which is the institutional repository for the Queensland Univ. of Technology. Follow the link for a postprint of this article.

2. Sometimes, though, Google Scholar will not locate references to eprints in institutional repositories. Here are several alternative strategies to employ when this happens:

Example: A search for "Representing Sahrawi Refugees’ ‘Educational Displacement’ to Cuba: Self-sufficient Agents or Manipulated Victims in Conflict?" in Google Scholar yields no results for an institutional repository. A search using regular Google also produces no hits.
- Try using openDOAR's search tool instead, which will search across the contents of open access repositories.  A postprint of this article is located in Oxford's Research Archive.
- Experiment with a different search engine.  When I searched in Bing for this article, the a/m eprint showed up as the second result.
- Conduct a search directly in the relevant institutional repository. You can identify an author's affiliation from the article abstract posted on the journal publisher's web site.  Then either search for a repository in openDOAR or via a web search engine.  With this example, I went directly to the Oxford Research Archive, entered my search, and located the relevant reference.

3.  Institutional repositories are not the only places where journal article eprints are deposited.  If you are having no luck with Google Scholar, it might be worth trying a general title search on Google to see if an eprint is located on an author's personal web site or departmental web page.

4.  Increasingly, authors are also sharing eprints via academic social networks like Academia.edu and ResearchGate.

Example: A postprint of the article "Refugee Returns, Civic Differentiation, and Minority Rights in Croatia 1991-2004," by Brad Blitz, is posted on ResearchGate
- You can generally find results for these services if you conduct a general title search in either Google or Bing.
- Alternatively, search directly on the author's name and the name of the service -  >Brad Blitz researchgate< - then browse through the contributions listed on the author's profile page to locate articles of interest.

Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

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