Open access?

Stephen J Bensman notsjb at LSU.EDU
Wed Apr 11 13:53:41 EDT 2012

Three questions back to you.  First, if I understand you correctly, then Google has a contract with Elsevier that allows its spiders access to the Elsevier publication database.  If so, then I not only stand corrected but can rely more on the accuracy of Google Scholar data.  In general, my research has shown that Google Scholar totally validates of the findings of Eugene Garfield on scientific journals in his Law of Concentration and importance of review journals.  Google Scholar and WoS validate each other, which I find comforting.  However, GS retrieves data in a fashion that provides insights that neither WoS or Scopus can provides because it retrieves further down the authorship structure and places these do not visit.  If GS can fully access Elsevier journals, then why is that fearsome "web crawlers verboten" sign posted on the Elsevier SciVerse Web site.  Second, what the hell is an "API."   Third, if Google Scholar can access the Elsevier publication database, then who in the hell needs Scopus, which costs a bundle?  LSU has better places to spend its limited money than a redundant database.

I think that I will stay with the Harzing program.  It is very sophisticated and well designed to handle Google Scholar data.  You have to understand that Google only forms coherent sets at the asymptote or the first screen or two.  Further than that is what I guess that the Germans would call the "Trummerzone" or "rubbish zone," where things are random and incoherent.   With Web data you are always going to be truncated or censored on the left because of the probability structure of the Web.   It is a fact of life and a limitation of the WWW.  However, at the asymptote things are quite coherent and fairly stable.  These are my basic findings so far.

I hope that you found these comments of interest.

Stephen J Bensman, Ph.D.
LSU Libraries
Lousiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803


-----Original Message-----
From: filmenczer at [mailto:filmenczer at] On Behalf Of Fil Menczer
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:43 AM
To: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics
Cc: Stephen J Bensman
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Open access?


Two quick comments:

1. Google Scholar has business agreements with all major publishers to access their bibliographic and citation data. This data is mixed with what Google obtains from crawling the Web. This is why Google Scholar is one of the few (or the only?) Google service that does not provide an API.

2. You may be interested in a tool ( that is somewhat similar to Publish or Perish, but makes data openly and freely available through an API as well as in semantic web (linked
data) format.


Filippo Menczer
Professor of Informatics and Computer Science Director, Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research Indiana University, Bloomington

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM, Stephen J. Bensman <notsjb at> wrote:
> Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
> Quentin,
> Thank you for the Guardian articles on Elsevier.  I would like to add 
> some observations of my own on this matter.  Elsevier runs a good 
> operation and publishes important materials.  I work with their 
> support people and find them informative and helpful.  But Elsevier 
> has always been non-cooperative, tries to force people to operate 
> within its system, and monopolizes its materials to maximize its 
> profit.  This is the nature of the beast.
> This tendency has recently had extremely negative consequences.
> Since November, 2004, the field of scientometric evaluative data has 
> been been in a state of revolution.  In that month Elsevier launched 
> Scopus, and Google launched Google Scholar, breaking the monopolistic 
> hold Thompson Reuters ISI had on evaluative scientometric data.  Since 
> then there has been a Hobbesian battle among these three titans, 
> because--if I am correct--production and control of such data is very 
> profitable.  Such data is particularly needed in Europe and other 
> places, where science and universities are funded by the central 
> governments, which need such data for allocation decisions.  Thompson 
> Reuters ISI (The Empire) has struck back by abandoning its 
> long-standing policy of relying on mainly journals and launching its Book Citation Index.
> Google Scholar was really too difficult to use for evaluative 
> purposes, but this has changed with the launching of the Publish or 
> Perish program by Anne-Wil Harzing.  This program can be retrieved for 
> free from her Web site at  It is 
> revolutionary in that it establishes effective statistical and 
> bibliographic control over Google Scholar, making it feasible to use 
> it for evaluative purposes.  I am doing research with others to test 
> the vaiidity of using Google Scholar for evaluative purposes, using 
> data which Anne-Wil has graciously given me with her program.  It is 
> the most stupendous and interesting data set I have ever worked with.  
> However, in doing this research, I came across this statement on 
> Elsevier's SciVerse Web site at the following URL:
> If one knows anything how Web seach engines operate, it is quite 
> obvious that this is a knife aimed by Elsevier at Google's jugular, 
> blocking it from indexing the publications of one of the leading 
> publishers of scientific materials.  Since I working with chemistry, I 
> am going to have to check what effect this has on Google Scholar.
> Fortunately Anne-Wil's data allows me to determine from where Google 
> Scholar is retrieving its data.  The only question I have is whether 
> this is an advantageous or self-destructive move on the part of 
> Elsevier, whose publications and authors will be rated lower by Google 
> Scholar, which can be utilized without cost by cash-strapped institutions.
> Respectfully,
> Stephen J. Bensman, Ph.D.
> LSU Libraries
> Louisiana State University
> Baton Rouge, LA 70803
> On Tue, 10 Apr 2012 20:29:03 +0100, Quentin Burrell 
> <quentinburrell at MANX.NET> wrote:
>>Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>>Members might be interested in these two related articles in today's
> Guardian newspaper.
> academic-spring
> boycott-scientific-journals
>>Quentin Burrell

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