On LibX, Google Scholar, and Scholars who Self-Archive

I had an amazing chat with a library user the other day.  The kind of interaction that ends in the user proclaiming “you rock!” and that makes me happy to be a librarian.  The thanks really goes to Annette Bailey, Godmar Back, and the wonderful tool that is LibX.   Sure it’s a toolbar, but its real value lies in how it grabs metadata from any page displayed in your browser and creates openURLs that a link resolver can, well, resolve.

So yesterday in this chat session, I got a partial citation for an article with the call to action: can you find it?

I looked up the journal title in our a-to-z list, but (no surprises here) we did not have any access. I wanted to be able to send the user an openURL that would resolve to our SFX menu with a link to our document delivery service.  In my pre-LibX days, I would have looked up the title in Ulrichs, found a database that indexed the title, searched in that database for the article, and gotten to the SFX menu from the article. Not an easy process to explain to users!

With LibX, I first copied the citation information into Google. The first result was a link to the published version on Sage (again, no access!). I grabbed the DOI from the link, dragged it to the magic button (Google Scholar search) on LibX, and the resulting Google Scholar link included a link to our openURL resolver.

This story was supposed to have this heart-warming ending:

In the end, I didn’t have to send the user that link to document delivery.  The second link displayed in Google Scholar was a link to a version of the article that the author had self-archived on his faculty web page. I was able to send the user the full text of the article instead of a lengthy link and explanation of how to use document delivery.  I plan to use this example to show faculty why self-archiving is important.

Full disclosure, however, means telling you that upon further investigation, the second link in Google Scholar was not from the author’s university.  Also, the article was not a version of the published article, it was the published article.  Turns out, the article was part of a syllabus and should have been secured behind a firewall of some sort, but was not.   I alerted the instructor to chat with her university librarian post haste.

After more digging, I eventually did find the author had posted a version of his article on his faculty web space, but it took quite a bit of digging.  I look forward to the day when search engines make self-archived material more easily accessible and when every author follows this practice.  Because self-archiving is a win-win all around.  I need to learn more about self-archiving.  I’ll be reading Self-Archiving Journal Articles: A Case Study of Faculty Practice and Missed Opportunity and JISC’s information on Repositories and Self-Archiving.  Ultimately, I’d like to develop procedures for my campus.  Yet another summer project!

May 12, 2009. Open Access. Leave a comment.