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Did You Know: Google Scholar now Informs if publication should be Free!

Apr 1, 2021, 16:55 PM by Melodi Moore
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In a recent Nature news q&a article, Do you obey public-access mandates? Google Scholar is watching, Google Scholar search-engine co-founder Anurag Acharya explained why the search-engine now tracks research papers that are non-compliant with funders' public access mandates.  A Google Scholar profile now shows how many of the scientist's papers should be free to access because of sponsor requirements and the number that are non-compliant.  Google Scholar also offers a way to make non-compliant papers accessible by uploading them into their Google drive.

Although Acharya's reasoning runs parallel with the thoughts of sponsors, such as the NIH and NSF, directives and policies on making funded research and the results publicly available, he does not address the roadblocks that many researchers encounter when attempting to bring a non-compliant paper into compliance.  This includes which version of the manuscript to upload, checking on publisher embargos set forth in the publishing agreement and others. 

The service also does not check to see if the article has an open-access license or whether it is peer-reviewed.  Acharya admits the focus for this change is to focus solely on if there is a public version of the article available and inform the researcher through their profile if there are non-compliant papers.

Some researchers such as Michael Schatz, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Computer Science and Biology at Johns Hopkins University, tweeted that he feels this new feature is a “wall of shame”  and the paper he was called on was actually available in a couple of free versions.  Mick Watson, Professor of bioinformatics at University of Edinburgh says the tab is terrible and flawed, pointing out that the paper identified as “not available”, was completely available through Open Access.

Bottom line, as always when using Google Scholar, which is free with unfettered use and loose controls on input, researchers should be careful about the information attached to their profiles and doublecheck the accuracy often.

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