Thursday, March 01, 2007

Google Scholar & free papers

Last week I was looking for information about using timed lexical decision tests to assess vocabulary. I forget exactly which search terms I used, but one of the papers google scholar recommended was Kempe, V., & MacWhinney, B. (1996). The crosslinguistic assessment
of foreign language vocabulary learning. Applied Psycholinguistics, 17, 149-183. For this paper, Google returned the following options: Cited by 10 - Related Articles - Cached - Web Search - BL Direct

None of these will actually take you to a copy of the paper unless you or your insitution are subcribed to BL Direct, which might lead you to suspect that there is no free version available. If, however, you go to Brian MacWhinney's web site, you'll find a free copy there for your perusal.

Still, I don't think there's any kind of sweetheart deal going on here. Danny Sullivan on writes,
"Google says, by the way, that it does not earn money off of any new subscriptions generated between searchers and publishers."
And, in fact, if you do your google searches unflavoured, you can find the free version of the Kempe & MacWhinney paper easily. Its not even that Google Scholar never links to free papers, as the following results demonstrate:

Attention Control and Ability Level in a Complex Cognitive Skill: Attention Shifting and Second- … - group of 4 »
N Segalowitz, S Frenkiel-Fishman - Memory & Cognition, 2005 -
One of the most interesting research results of the last half-century regarding
skilled performance is that what primarily distinguishes experts from ...
Cited by 3 - Related Articles - View as HTML - Web Search - BL Direct

So there's something odd happening here.

Some more evidence of the weirdness is that GS doesn't seem to know everything that just plain google knows. For example, if I copy the first line of the abstract and search for that in quotes, GS just shrugs its shoulders, while bare bones google serves up the required paper with its usual alacrity.

What's up? Who knows, but if you don't find a free version of a paper on GS, don't give up. It may still be out there.

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