The Best Open Tools for Discovering OA Arts and Humanities Research
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-08-11
"Everyone enjoys finding free research materials online, especially independent scholars in the arts and humanities. These dedicated and often financially challenged scholarly workers are forced to use open search tools to discover open content. Such open+open tools do exist, often in circumstances as precarious as their users are, and these tools can be vital for those without access to the walled gardens of universities.
About a decade ago, I made the JURN search tool for such people. JURN discovers the full text of open journals in the arts and humanities. It runs on a Google Custom Search Engine to provide Google-level speed, semantics, relevance ranking, and de-duplication of results. JURN now also comprehensively covers ecology journals, and it has a sister tool, GRAFT, which searches the world’s repositories. Neither tool is perfect, even with my annual maintenance and with Google automatically weeding out dead URLs. But try it out for yourself....
What about other open search tools for the arts and humanities? A useful new arrival is Internet Archive Scholar. Still very much a work in progress, it offers keyword search across selected OA journals, OA aggregator feeds, a wealth of microfilmed journal runs, old journals from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and even archived webpages. Results from the tricky search “Mongolian folk song” suggest it has good keyword semantics.
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) also offers full-text search, but it is limited compared to the comprehensive directory. Full-text searching will only occasionally surface a useful article. Note that DOAJ removes a journal if it has been inactive for the past year, so you cannot search across defunct or dormant journals.
The Paperity project has slowed in recent years, and its semantic interpretation of queries is extremely poor anyway. But Paperity is especially useful for gray OA from circa 2000 to 2018, if you can plow through many irrelevant results. Its “sort by publication date” + “follow by RSS” combination is an especially notable rarity, although today it seldom reveals humanities items. The CORE search results also usefully offer a “sort by recent” filter, this time for new open content in academic repositories in the U.K. and European Union (EU) and around the world, but it appears to lack RSS. Semantic Scholar has a useful “sort by recency” filter, but again, has no RSS.
At the time of this writing, the EU’s new GoTriple (in beta, as of late 2021) searches for “Social Sciences and Humanities” in Europe, but gave limited results when tested in July 2022. When ready, GoTriple seems likely to be most useful for discovering EU-funded projects and outputs in EU repositories.
Grassroots projects worth evaluating are the long-standing FreeFullPDF.com and the new OAmg. Semantic interpretation of keywords is good on both, although users should be wary of occasional questionable scholarly links in results. But admittedly, even the mighty Google Scholar—run entirely separately from Google Search—cannot seem to fully exclude these.
Google News and Bing News can be surprisingly helpful in discovering current projects, exhibitions, or new books. Bing News is especially good for timely local and regional news. Until recently, I was able to supplement my news access via a public library card—giving home access to ProQuest UK Newsstand with full-text newspapers. My U.K. public library no longer appears to subscribe, but others may find they have similar local options. (ProQuest News & Newspapers appears to be the current name of the service to enquire about.) As with news, open podcast search may also help discover fellow scholars. I know of no blog search tool worth using...."