proquest is hijacking google scholar searches for open access journals

I’m a big fan of Open Access. Open Access (OA) works are, in one way or another, distributed without paywalls so anyone can access them. Promoting OA is why I’m proud to be part of the SocArXiv team (promoting the sharing of paywall-free working papers and preprints) and why I was so excited to publish in Sociological Science and to further support their publishing model. It’s also why I decided to test out a new browser extension called Unpaywall which automatically searches for OA versions of paywalled papers when you go to a publisher’s website. Right now, Unpaywall can’t find preprints on SocArXiv, but hopefully we can make that happen!

In any event, playing around with these tools, I noticed something strange and frustrating. I wanted to see what Unpaywall would do to a publication that was already Open Access, so I searched on Google Scholar for Devah Pager’s recent Sociological Science piece. When I clicked the top link, instead of being taken to the journal’s website, I was routed to a Proquest splash page that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 4.38.44 PM.png

The text at the right says: “This is a short preview of the document. Your library or institution may give you access to the complete full text for this document in ProQuest.” But of course, this is an OA publication in an OA journal. You shouldn’t and don’t need any institutional credentials to get access. What the hell, Proquest? And what the hell, Google Scholar?

If you do click the “Connect to Proquest” link (from a non-University computer), you’re asked to sign in with credentials. Exactly the sort of thing that OA publishing is supposed to prevent. There’s no acknowledgment whatsoever that this is an OA publication, and that Proquest has no claim to it beyond somehow managing to win the Google Scholar algorithm’s top spot. And there’s no way to actually get the paper. The search has been hijacked.

Does anyone have any idea how this happened? Why is Proquest showing up at all in a search of an OA, self-published journal? Why are they showing up top on the Google Scholar spot? And other than writing an angry blog post can I do about it? This feels like some variety of fraud or theft, in moral terms if not legal ones.

N.B. The .pdf link on the right of the first Google Scholar result correctly routes to the free, OA pdf from Sociological Science.

N.B.2 The problem has been multiply confirmed from different computers, in different states, in incognito mode and not.

sunday morning sociology, debate edition


One of these things is just like the other. As covered by

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This week’s links include multiple sources covering the Case-Deaton mortality debate, and the LGBTQ Census question decision.

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adventures in garbage millennial confirmation bias

The following is a guest post by Emily Beam.

There are few things more satisfying than finding another reason that millenials are the worst. They’re narcissistic, coddled, unpatriotic, racist, and nervous about free speech. And now, millennial men want a return to the nostalgic 1950s, with women in the kitchen, whipping up a nice quiche after a hard day on the line.

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millennials have the same attitudes towards free speech as everyone else

The 2016 General Social Survey is out! Time to update our trend lines, and mark our beliefs to market (as the economists like to say). I’ll start with one: how are attitudes towards free speech changing? Answer: Not very much. The GSS asks a range of questions on free speech related issues. The handy GSS explorer lets you look at trends over time for each question, broken down by various demographics. Here’s a key trend, looking at attitudes towards racist speech:

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.54.14 PM

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social science, earthquakes, and the law

L’Aquila, after the 2009 earthquake. Source.

I just had the pleasure of reading Federico Brandmayr’s forthcoming article in Science, Technology, & Human Values on “How Social Scientists Make Causal Claims in Court: Evidence from the L’Aquila Trial.” I highly recommend it. The article examines the testimony of three expert witnesses in a surreal trial about the culpability of scientists for making a bad prediction, and specifically the possibility that the scientists’ claims could have affected the behavior of individuals (to evacuate or not).

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on carolina contextual transcript policy’s woes

Some background: since 2009 I’ve been working on grade transparency as one policy response to grade inflation, grade compression, and grade inequality at UNC. (See here, here, here, and here, among others.) After many, many meetings, conversations, presentations, and discussions, at last week’s Faculty Council meeting the Educational Policy Committee delivered a report on the policy that may well signal its demise. Below are the comments I made at the Faculty Council meeting in the discussion on that report. Continue reading “on carolina contextual transcript policy’s woes”