Is It Open Access If No One Can Find It? The loss of 100,000+ Archaeology & History Articles | Doug's Archaeology
"Here is a question for you, if I put something up on the internet for free but no one can find it have I actually done anything? A little background story to how I came to this question. Over the last couple of weeks I have been running some analysis for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on their publications. Basic web analytics about who reads their proceedings, how much gets read, etc. etc. For this I got access to the Archaeology Data Services (ADS) web stats as they host the SAS Proceedings. After going through a bunch of the numbers I found an odd trend, people who came to the Proceedings were looking for only the Proceedings. That is, they only entered in terms like, SAS Proceedings, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland publications, etc. into search engines like Google and Bing. I thought that a bit odd. The SASP has thousands of articles on the history and archaeology of Scotland about hundreds of topics. I thought for sure someone would have put in a term to a search engine like, ‘iron age Scotland’ or ‘brochs of Scotland’, etc. Or at least the title of an article to find a online version but there was nothing. So I went to the ADS homepage for the SAS proceedings and started taking article titles and putting them into Google. What I found was ……… NOTHING. Goolge, Bing, Yahoo, etc. do not know that the 100,000+ articles on ADS exist. Go ahead and try it. Find article titles on ADS and search for them on Google or Bing (fair warning this is a technical error that might be fixed by the time you read this). I want to be 100% clear this is not a ‘ha, Gotcha’ moment for ADS, I am not trying to smear ADS. This is a technical error. All the search engines use to index ADS. They, ADS, require people to agree to their terms of service before looking at articles. However, it use to be that if you found an article through something like google you could bypass this step. So recently ADS set up a system to catch people, making them agree to the terms of service, BUT let through the search engine bots to index their articles. This system is currently not working how it is suppose to. ADS knows this and were the ones that confirmed this for me after I brought the problem to their attention. This slight problem means that bots try to search and index the articles but gets redirected so that they think the link is broken. If Google or Bing think a link is broken they remove it from their search results. Effectively, most of ADS is dead to search engines. That is 100,000+ Archaeology and History articles that are dead to the internet for those keeping count at home. The reason I bring up this technical problem is, one to make other people aware that such problems exist. Two, this got me thinking about how much stuff we put on the internet and call it Open Access or free to view. Is it really Open Access and Free to View if no one can find it? ..."