Linking to Restricted Journal Articles October 11, 2010 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Is there a tried and true method of posting links to journal articles that are only accessible with an id/password from an academic institution?

For most things, after I'm allowed access by my university, I can download a pdf to my computer; but is it possible to share this material with people on Metafilter? Sorry if this has been covered somewhere, or if it strikes you as the most obvious thing ever. I'm not so swift with the computers, you see.
posted by Roachbeard to MetaFilter-Related at 11:28 AM (61 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Post it to Scribd.
posted by killdevil at 11:31 AM on October 11, 2010


Nope, sorry. If it's not available on the public Internet it's probably not a good post for MetaFilter.
posted by sveskemus at 11:31 AM on October 11, 2010


I'm guessing the copyright on any material would preclude this. If they bothered to set a username/password scheme up it means they want control of dissemination. I can think of few exceptions to linking to the actual source material.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:32 AM on October 11, 2010


Google Docs will also help distribute PDFs. I've always wondered if this would be a kind of self-link, though.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:37 AM on October 11, 2010


I'm not saying you're likely to get caught, but can't you get in a LOT of trouble if they find a secured journal article on scribd and trace it back to you? Read the terms that you agree to when using library databases -- they're there for a reason. Posting under your MetaFilter name would probably only make it easier to trace.

I would say that it's better to try to find freely accessible supporting documents and maybe link to an abstract of the article or the study.
posted by codacorolla at 11:38 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks all.
posted by Roachbeard at 11:41 AM on October 11, 2010


Yeah, our general answer is "make the post without that link, or don't make the post if not having that link is a dealbreaker". It sucks that journal stuff isn't more open-access than it is, but we don't want people re-hosting content to get around paywalls for the sake of a post.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:42 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm positive the mods have said this is not okay in the past, but I can't immediately find the comment. I went looking over at the wiki, and what the crap is this crap on the Self Link page?
That's not to say that nobody ever gets away with a front-page self-link. In the history of MetaFilter, a few people have. If you want to try this, you should first firmly establish yourself as a trustworthy member so that nobody can impugn your motives. This will probably take several months of intelligent, respectful posting and commenting. And your link had better be well above average by the usual guidelines. You might also run it by a few other members to see what they think; if you're lucky, one of them will think it good enough to post it for you, thus alleviating the conundrum -- but don't be pushy. (If you don't know any other MeFi members well enough to ask them, you're probably not ready to attempt a self-post yet.) Naturally, you should also disclose that it's a self-post. And finally, even if you do succeed in getting away with a self-post, it's definitely not the sort of thing you could get away with every week or even every month.
posted by Gator at 11:43 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Post it to Scribd.

Per cortex, don't post it to scribd.
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on October 11, 2010


It depends on the field, but a lot of time, journal article authors will post PDFs to their own site, which aren't behind a paywall. In my experience, they're more likely to do that rather than just linking to PubMed. I would try to track down the author's personal CV website as a first resource.
posted by supercres at 11:51 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It depends on the field, but a lot of time, journal article authors will post PDFs to their own site, which aren't behind a paywall. In my experience, they're more likely to do that rather than just linking to PubMed.

FWIW, it also depends on the journal they're being published in. Many medical journals tell authors that they can't post to their own sites until a certain amount of time has passed.
posted by zarq at 11:53 AM on October 11, 2010


Link to the abstract. If anybody wants to read the full text, they can email the author like everybody else.
posted by chillmost at 11:54 AM on October 11, 2010


Link to the abstract. If anybody wants to read the full text, they can email the author like everybody else.

Yeah, but again, a paywalled article can't be the only link in a post either. That was debated in this thread.
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on October 11, 2010


You may also be able to link to the same research under a different name by looking for conference-presentation versions of the same thing on an author's cv.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:05 PM on October 11, 2010


our general stance on it is "don't". Sucks if the thing you want to link to isn't really available, but that's the way it goes. -- cortex
posted by John Cohen at 12:06 PM on October 11, 2010


Yeah, you're right, Gator - it seems like that sentence is the closest thing to a huge mistake a sentence can be while still being technically true. There's really no reason to have that there.
posted by koeselitz at 12:07 PM on October 11, 2010


what the crap is this crap on the Self Link page?

Old information, now edited to reflect current guidelines.

And yeah, don't link to stuff behind paywalls if it's the meat of your post. Linking to an abstract in lieu of an article if the article is the main point of your post isn't really an okay compromise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:08 PM on October 11, 2010


The wiki is a living resource and not really canon (insofar as there is such a thing) since anyone can contribute; as far as I can tell, that passage is several years old, and it doesn't read like either Matt or Jess to me. If someone wants to maybe revise that to something that hews closer to the content of the FAQ, that wouldn't be a bad idea.

One thing that's interesting is the way that represents to some extent the evolution of the no-self-links rule over the years, though; in the very early days of the site it was basically a non-issue; after a year or two it started to get Matt's attention as something worth applying some pressure to, and that firmed up to a strong proscription ensconced in the written guidelines over the next while.

So the current wiki writeup is I think wrong in the way it conveys self-linking more as a "thing to not do lightly"—as far as we're concerned it's a thing Not To Do, Period—but it was likely written as such by someone who was following the site fairly faithfully but from an earlier point in site history when what is now a long-standing hard rule may still have been a little bit shaky around the edges. Note also the out-dated use of "self-post", which also hearkens to earlier, pre-fixed-phrase days of talking about the subject.

In my dream world the writeup on self-linking there would capture some of this historical evolution of the guidelines explicitly. I have a feeling getting that level of specificity on it might be one of those situations where I need to be the change I wish to see in the wiki, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:15 PM on October 11, 2010


many times I've found the articles posted at the author's website (especially if they were academics ) on the same page as the person's CV, often embedded in the CV
posted by Brent Parker at 12:18 PM on October 11, 2010


An University affiliation of the kind that gives you access to their online resources includes normally your agreement not to violate copyright laws. So not only whichever publisher could descend upon you in the worst case, but also your own university.

My usual way is to provide full bibliographical information. If people are interested, they will figure out how to get the material. Ordering printouts via one's library isn't all that expensive.
(If you need links, like for posting on this site, a workaround would be to do some research about the topic and add a few nice peripheral links, plus, as others said, the abstract).
posted by Namlit at 12:19 PM on October 11, 2010


could not a system be set up were a participating site (like mefi) could have access for small fee? bundle it so as t make it easy. make a time sensitive. I see money.
posted by clavdivs at 12:41 PM on October 11, 2010


So, how about when we find something that we doubt is legally posted, but isn't something we've posted. I found this awesome documentary on Youtube and a bunch of other resources on the topic, but I'm petty sure the person posting the documentary doesn't own the rights. I've decided not to do a fpp on it for that reason, but is it my job to figure out when it's legal or not? How might I do that? Or should I always err in whatever my best judgment suspects?
posted by Toekneesan at 12:47 PM on October 11, 2010


So, how about when we find something that we doubt is legally posted, but isn't something we've posted. I found this awesome documentary on Youtube and a bunch of other resources on the topic, but I'm petty sure the person posting the documentary doesn't own the rights. I've decided not to do a fpp on it for that reason, but is it my job to figure out when it's legal or not? How might I do that? Or should I always err in whatever my best judgment suspects?

I'm like the king of MeTa links today.

Copyright thread.
Our policy is don't link to stuff that might make people come after mathowie. So, we prefer if you don't link to torrents of copyrighted material or blatant copyright violations (full scans of comics or books, more because they're likely to go away than we're afraid of the boogeyman) but linking to stuff other places is not necessarily an issue if you have every reason to think that the material/link will stay up [i.e. isn't some fly-by-night scribd thing].
posted by jessamyn at 6:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites +] [!]

posted by zarq at 12:55 PM on October 11, 2010


The Self-Link wiki page mostly dated from 2004 or 2005, by the way. Checking the date range shows that the page was a frequent target of spam vandalism.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:05 PM on October 11, 2010


Linking to an abstract in lieu of an article if the article is the main point of your post isn't really an okay compromise.

Yeah, I find it really frustrating when people do basically the same by linking to a news story about an article. "New study blah blah blah..." where the study is not available.
posted by smackfu at 1:06 PM on October 11, 2010


I suppose this is worth mentioning... I've linked to documentaries and videos on YouTube that I was pretty sure were copyrighted.

When possible, though I do try to link to their original sources. For instance, the Nightline video on the Eva Cassidy post was hosted on YouTube, but when I checked ABC also had it up, too so the link was directed to them instead.
posted by zarq at 1:08 PM on October 11, 2010


When posting copyrighted material, my general rule is that I don't ask too many questions about the source, but I won't host it myself. With scholarly articles that are interesting enough to be worth posting, you might be able to find articles that excerpt a lot from them, and you may be able to find the complete contents if you search for complete sentences from the article on google.
posted by empath at 1:25 PM on October 11, 2010


A lot of scientists and academics also have blogs and they will often summarize their work there.
posted by empath at 1:26 PM on October 11, 2010


you may be able to find the complete contents if you search for complete sentences from the article on google.

My fave is to search for the title in PDFs.
posted by smackfu at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2010


could not a system be set up were a participating site (like mefi) could have access for small fee?

Are you talking about access to an individual journal article, an entire journal title, or an article database (that is, collection of journal titles)? Access in perpetuity, access to backfiles and archives, or just one particular item at one particular time? Including or not including the right to email, print, save to desktop, forward, etc.?

When we're talking closed access journals, the cost for library subscription access is typically based on the number of full-time enrolled student or equivalent (FTE for those following along in the office). MeFi has thousands of active users.

Thus, it would likely be...prohibitively expensive. We're talking many thousands of dollars, most likely (for a database). The cost for all of MeFi to access the full-text of an academic journal would be highly variable (depending on the journal's reputation and general solvency). The cost for one article is typically anywhere from free if you ask nicely to $75 bucks or more (sometimes a lot more in my field).

Why yes, it is a complicated, byzantine, overly expensive system. I would not suggest putting up a copyrighted article that you got from a library database onto Scrib'd. We do get notices from the database vendors every year about folks we have to 'talk to' (sometimes users will download every single article in a database). I would suggest looking for a manuscript copy on the lead author's website, as others have mentioned.
posted by librarylis at 1:30 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, for folks interested in the the full article when an abstract is posted (or should be posted) there are many mefites with access to academic libraries. So long as I don't get to many requests I'd be happy to e-mail PDFs.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:08 PM on October 11, 2010


So, is Metafilter the only community-type blog that does not allow self-linkage? I'm sure you can promote your own projects on Digg. What about the others?
posted by crunchland at 2:14 PM on October 11, 2010


If research is noteworthy, usually there's a story about it somewhere, like in the New York Times or some such. So you could always look for a report about the research, and then link to that and to the abstract.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2010


Another sneak trick to find out whether an article that you have found through a protected University-access-resource is available free in some other form someplace else, is to google on represeantative phrases from inside the article. I found amazing stuff like that. [University teachers find whether their students plagiarized something much in the same fashion]

I would normally not sweat the issue (like linking to unclear-origin youtube content) too much, unless some content is very clearly unmarked-yet-copyrighted.
[What people do is anyway just such a mess. I found a handful of sound files from my homepage back all over the place, which are anyway only free, scratchy mp3s, accompanied with the friendly reminder that people should quote the source if they re-post them in any way. People don't quote the source. One sometimes feels like Daffy Duck "I demand that you reveal who you are! Outta sheer honethty!"]
Sorry. Derail.
The original question was about id/password-protected resources, so in that case there's no doubt that it's wrong to re-post the PDF to some other place for free access.
posted by Namlit at 2:44 PM on October 11, 2010


chillmost writes "Link to the abstract. If anybody wants to read the full text, they can email the author like everybody else."

This is a kind of harsh thing to inflict on the author isn't it? Won't any half way interesting abstract generate hundreds if not thousands of enquiries?

cortex writes "One thing that's interesting is the way that represents to some extent the evolution of the no-self-links rule over the years, though; in the very early days of the site it was basically a non-issue; after a year or two it started to get Matt's attention as something worth applying some pressure to, and that firmed up to a strong proscription ensconced in the written guidelines over the next while."
and
Pronoiac i writes "The Self-Link wiki page mostly dated from 2004 or 2005, by the way. Checking the date range shows that the page was a frequent target of spam vandalism."

Note for anyone new to the wiki: the Wiki history indicates Adrian wrote that piece in 2007 however that is when the article was transfered from the old wiki by Adrian. All the history information on the old wiki wasn't transfered to the new.
posted by Mitheral at 4:16 PM on October 11, 2010


sounds like a Fomenko.


ummm
yeah, look at this candy

Annual Subscription
The Americas*
UK
Europe (non-euro)
Europe (euro zone
Rest of World

Institutional: Online Only
$259
£200
€254
€254
$391

I mean Wow
posted by clavdivs at 4:55 PM on October 11, 2010


That's nothing. Here's what Brain Research costs:
Institutional print price:
EUR 20,904 for European countries and Iran
JPY 2,782,400 for Japan
USD 23,446 for all countries except Europe, Japan and Iran
Can anyone guess who the publisher is without looking?
posted by grouse at 5:49 PM on October 11, 2010


Is it those fuckers Elsevier?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:56 PM on October 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


could not a system be set up were a participating site (like mefi) could have access for small fee?

I tried doing something like this for a link that required emailing a site administrator for the username/password to access the materials. I contacted them and sort of explained MeFi, and asked if a special MeFi user/pass or (general access) could be created for the duration of the post's discussion. They were happy and willing to accommodate, but it didn't pass muster with this site's mods.

AS SUCH, THE LINK TO SAID AWESOMENESS IS IN MY PROFILE, WHERE IT WILL LIVE FOR ALL AETERNITY.
posted by carsonb at 5:58 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about linking to a Google Scholar search for the exact title of the article (in quotation marks)?

Google Scholar often links to preprints or other versions when they are available.

For those who have academic affiliations, if they indicate their institution in the Library Links preference in Google Scholar, they can then authenticate and read the article directly from Google Scholar.

Happy Open Access week!
posted by zepheria at 7:28 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Make a note and post it in six months (assuming it hasn't been refuted by then)? All papers supported by federal NIH funding in the United States are freely accessible to all after a 12-month delay (but more typically after six months) at PubMed Central.
posted by halogen at 11:02 PM on October 11, 2010


As a practicing academic I would suggest that if you're looking for a journal article you don't have access to then the first place to dig it up is by visiting the university homepage of the academic authors. It is pretty common for them to have direct links to a copy of their published papers on their site. While this technically breaks copyright I have not heard of any of the authors getting pulled up for this and its certainly legit in terms of you linking to it.
posted by biffa at 1:40 AM on October 12, 2010


those fuckers Elsevier

Is this something that I'd have to be a librarian to understand?
posted by clorox at 3:15 AM on October 12, 2010


Don't post copyrighted content to Scribd.

Copyrighted content is someone's livelihood and it's douchey to just run roughshod over that.

There are lots of great arguments why paywalls etc aren't good business, but the unilateral posting of someone else's material to a free site is not a good response.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:41 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Is this something that I'd have to be a librarian to understand?

No, just someone with any interest in scholarship. If you ever need to use academic journals, you will soon come to hate those fuckers Elsevier.
posted by languagehat at 6:16 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Copyrighted content is someone's livelihood and it's douchey to just run roughshod over that.

Academic scholarship has a pretty wide fair use exception built in: nobody reads my papers except for an "Educational Purpose." Plus, very few academic authors see royalties: we get our remuneration from teaching, and scholarship is rewarded in the tenure process and *sometimes* with more lucrative or prestigious job offers. For that to happen, our work needs to be widely disseminated, not paywalled.

Publishers and indexers feel like pretty frustrating middleman in all of that, and I belong to several research coteries where authors share pre-print and off-print pdfs. That's why the Kindle DX is such a great tool for academics.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:57 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Copyrighted content is someone's livelihood and it's douchey to just run roughshod over that.

I have very different feelings about this general assertion when we are talking about something where you can at least trace the money trail from someone purchasing a magazine or journal and the author maintaining their livlihood. This is not to argue with you, jsut to say that from a librarian-ish perspective, there are scholars and scientists who write most of the content for scholarly journals. They are usually professors or researchers, funded with grants or from educational institutions, usually both.

Their articles go to publishers who should be enjoying massive cost savings thanks to advanced in digitization and distribution over the past decade or two. Instead, the costs of many periodicals, particlarly specialized scientific serials have been shooting through the roof, going up double-digit percentages in a few years, triple digit percentages in a few decades. Libraries, who are over a barrel because they really need to support scholarship at their institutions by having these items available, had no choice but to pay. You can't really negotiate with companies who are the only publisher for a necessary item.

This whole mess, which is slowly sorting itself out through benevolence on the part of the publishers [and fightiness on the part of hte librarians] is called the serials crisis in library circles. It's one of the reasons your university library isn't hiring any new people and has less and less money available for other collections, staff health care and longer opening hours.

This is an oversimplification, definitely, and I still think uploading someone's stuff to Scribd is totally not okay for MetaFilter, but the weird landscape is, in fact, weird. Next week is Open Access Week, where you can learn about some alternatives to this badly broken system.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:27 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


You can't really negotiate with companies who are the only publisher for a necessary item

Point taken, but this seems like a great argument for finding, or creating, a different publishing model but a poor one for killing these businesses by stealth and abusing their IP.

I would also add that, in my experience, it is not as easy or cheap a task as it might seem to get an academic to submit a well written paper on time!
posted by MuffinMan at 7:54 AM on October 12, 2010


elsevier book company.... slowly i turned...

is it greed or just a way for the publisher to sell 37 papers for X amount of dollars to cover costs.
posted by clavdivs at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2010


IF i would have read jessamyns comment...
posted by clavdivs at 9:24 AM on October 12, 2010


Here's a similar question that doesn't deserve its own thread:

Let's say that someone posts a gallery that's and embedded flash object. If there's nothing specifically about copyright on the page, is it kosher to rip the images with printscreen and then host them as an html gallery for the benefit of other users? I'm not saying starting a FPP like that, but rather someone who comes along later in the thread.
posted by codacorolla at 10:14 AM on October 12, 2010


Well there are two issues as I see it

1. Someone posting something that is functionally not available to a large number of users [paywall stuff, academic-only stuff, US-only video stuff, Silverlight stuff] which is basically something we'd prefer you not do and our approach will vary depending on how much of a problem it seems to be. Someone else other than the OP end-running the non-availability thingm ight be useful to people in-thread but I don't think it would save an otherwise not-okay post.

2. Someone posting something that is available to most users and then someone else deciding to take that content and do something else with it, for whatever reason. At this point, that's between you and your own moral compass, and it's not much of a MetaFilter issue. That said, we don't encourage users to rip off other people's content. That said, people posting FPPs to what appears to be other people's ripped-off content will be dealt with on a case by cases basis and we welcome people's input.

Honestly, we don't wan tot be the copyright police as we've said many times. But really saying "hey there's nothing about copyright on the page!" doesn't give you carte blanche to do whatever you want with other people's images. As you saying that a flash gallery poses some sort of significant hurdle that it's worth end-running it so the content can be viewable?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2010


Well, I personally like to save images that strike me as memorable. Flash doesn't allow you to this. I would just do it as a service to other people who also like to have a personal copy of art/images that they like (plus I've probably already done it for myself, so at that point making an HTML gallery is another 5 minutes work), not as some "screw you" statement to flash, or the artist or whatever.

Honestly if it's a grey area then I'll just avoid doing it. I can understand the official stance on the issue, definitely.
posted by codacorolla at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2010


Good god, don't get me started on Elsevier, srsly.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:31 AM on October 12, 2010


Well, I personally like to save images that strike me as memorable. Flash doesn't allow you to this.

But isn't that why people use it? Because people make their money by selling images and don't want to give them away. Its kind of naive, in someways, since there are ways of working around it, but that is true anytime you display an image. I dislike flash galleries, but if its a choice between high-res images I can't easily save, and shitty low res one I can, but can barely make out, I will go for the former. Making an end run around peoples wishes for your own convenience seems like a sure fire way to get people to think fuck it and just not put anything out worth seeing (sticking watermarks over everything, only putting out thumbnails or just nothing at all). It's not like there isn't plenty of stuff people do give away.
posted by tallus at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2010


(and I would hazard a guess they are more concerned about lazy content re-publishers than peole saving copies on their hard drive, making prints less so).
posted by tallus at 11:52 AM on October 12, 2010


(and I would hazard a guess they are more concerned about lazy content re-publishers than peole saving copies on their hard drive, making prints less so).

Good point. I hadn't considered that. It would piss me off if I worked hard on something and it showed up as generating add revenue for CollegeHumor or Break or something.
posted by codacorolla at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2010


But isn't that why people use it? Because people make their money by selling images and don't want to give them away.

Or to have people steal bandwidth through hotlinking.
posted by zarq at 12:13 PM on October 12, 2010


there are scholars and scientists who write most of the content for scholarly journals. They are usually professors or researchers, funded with grants or from educational institutions, usually both.

Their articles go to publishers who should be enjoying massive cost savings thanks to advanced in digitization and distribution over the past decade or two. Instead, the costs of many periodicals, particlarly specialized scientific serials have been shooting through the roof, going up double-digit percentages in a few years, triple digit percentages in a few decades.


This has always pissed me off. For people advocating for the copyright of these kinds of journals, this is total bullshit. At least in the sciences, most research is funded by governments. Meaning, we, the people, the taxpayers, have paid for this research. And yet we don't have access to the results of this research unless we pay ridiculous sums of money to a private company. There is a movement away from this publishing model (PLoS is one example of "open publishing"), but the most prestigious journals that the best people want to publish in are still behind high fee walls.
posted by bluefly at 12:37 PM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


is it kosher to rip the images with printscreen and then host them as an html gallery for the benefit of other users? I'm not saying starting a FPP like that, but rather someone who comes along later in the thread.

FYI there are assorted tools available to pull the images directly out of the flash interface thereby getting a much better result than printscreening the interface.
posted by Mitheral at 1:22 PM on October 12, 2010


Word on the street is that those fuckers Elsevier are about to be bought. Probably by those fuckers Wolters Kluwer.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:19 AM on October 15, 2010


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