JURN is a unique search-engine dedicated to indexing free ‘open access’ ejournals in the arts and humanities, along with other relevant arts and scholarly publications offering free content.
Frequently asked questions:—
How do I use it? You can use it just like Google. JURN is running on a Google Custom Search and so you can use all the usual Google search modifiers.
But testing JURN with a single-word search won’t get you very far. I assume the typical academic user has an adequate grasp of the best ways to search Google, and will also have some idea of the exact search terms they need to use. For example, a unsophisticated search for…
Gender Studies Shakespeare
…will only obtain an interesting set of overview results, but they will be very broad and jumbled. A more sophisticated search will return much more specific results, such as…
intitle:”The Tempest” gender
What’s in the mix? See the JURN Directory for a list of all the English-language titles indexed, although note that JURN also has strong coverage in other languages such as Spanish. All URLs are checked before being added to the site-index, to prevent duplicates. Added URLs are usually the ones at which Google sees the actual full-text articles, rather than a journal’s main “home-page” URL.
Is there a complete list of all titles indexed? Yes, there’s a PDF A-Z list of all titles indexed. This was complete on 2nd April 2011, but is now no longer being updated. A fully maintained list of the English-language titles in JURN is available as a linked directory.
What would you say is the general date range of the titles indexed? The material is largely from after 1995, with the bulk of indexed articles being published after 2005. There are very few pre-1945 journals, but this is not due to any policy — this is mostly because such journals tend to be published online in very Google-unfriendly ways (in repositories, as hard page-scans, using odd viewers that require Flash or other plugins, etc), or else have simply not yet been scanned and placed online. To freely search pre-1923 articles, the best place to start is JSTOR Pre-1923, which is free from Sept 2011.
I see book chapters in the results? I have added a number of URLs that bring in PDF “free-sample chapters” offered from scholarly book publishers. University presses and scholarly book publishers indexed by JURN in this way are:—
Ashgate Publishing (inc. Gower and Lund Humphries); University of Michigan Press; Baylor University Press; Atlas & Co., New York; Heller Books; University of Pittsburgh Press and University of Pittsburgh Press digital editions; State University of New York Press; Routledge; Oak Knoll Press; MIT Press; Temple University Press; Princeton University Press; SAGE; Pickering Chatto; United Nations University Press; University of British Columbia Press; Boydell and Brewer; Penn State Press; University of North Carolina Press; Blackwell; Cambridge University Press; Oxford University Press; Manchester University Press; University of Hawaii Press; AU Press; University of Nebraska Press; Cambria Press; Harvard University Press; Palgrave; Wiley; Georgetown University Press; Gale; Gower; Scarecrow Press; Harrassowitz Verlag; and Yale University Press. Plus free person biographies from the dictionaries of national biography for New Zealand, Canada, and the British Isles (the latter just the free online pages from the otherwise-commercial DNB).
File-naming conventions vary, but I have usually managed to use the Google CSE “Exclude” options to exclude most book indexes, simple tables of contents, and dictionaries from these sources.
Why won’t JURN play nicely with Zotero or some other brand of automatic citation software? JURN has been built using a Google Custom Search engine — so half the time you’ll be lucky to see an article title embedded in the search results link. You’ll often have to do some hand-building of references for JURN-sourced articles, and back-tracking to find out what journal it came from — since many open journals don’t bother to embed the journal title in the article file.
My diacritics don’t work! Try the plain-vanilla version of JURN. They should work in that.
Where did you hide the Google Scholar widgets? JURN doesn’t have Google Scholar style “relevance ranking”, “related articles”, “number of times cited”, “recent articles”, or the ability to sort by author or title of a journal, etc. JURN is very far from what a librarian would call “optimised”. But this can actually be a good thing, since it reduces herd behaviour and exposes your search to some useful serendipity. Note that, from May 2012, you can now re-sort the JURN search results by date.
I’m pretty good at searching, why shouldn’t I just use the main Google? You’re welcome to. But do you then know how to remove all results from: Powerpoint lesson files converted to PDF; academic resumes; course syllabi; university marketing materials; bibliographies; course descriptions and departmental web pages; old promotional flyers for conferences and calls-for-papers; blog and mailing-list archives; junior-school “K12″ lesson plans; commercial journal abstracts; plain repository records with no link to full-text; and so on?
Can’t I just use Google Scholar to access this material? Overwhelmingly, no. Online presentation and web archiving of open ejournals in the arts and humanities is very haphazard and inconsistent. This makes automatically building and harvesting metadata tricky or impossible, by automated methods such as those used by Google. Most of the ejournals indexed by JURN don’t even use something as basic as RSS feeds (Only 212 out of the JURN Directory’s 3,000 English-language titles use RSS). This is probably the reason why open ejournals in the arts and humanities are very poorly indexed by Google Scholar.
Google Scholar indexes the DOAJ’s article abstract pages, so surely that means that Google Scholar indexes all open access journals? No, the DOAJ’s full-text coverage is actually quite limited. By my calculations, at November 2012 the DOAJ appears to present article abstract pages (leading to full text) from slightly over 500 open ejournals in the arts and humanities. By comparison, JURN indexes over 4,400 titles — with around 3,000 of those in English. Further, a 2011 study of Scholar by art historians found that Scholar was indexing only half of the DOAJ’s 30 art history titles.
I have access to JSTOR. Isn’t that better? JSTOR is a great resource for the humanities, if you have free access behind the paywall. But articles typically only appear in JSTOR about four or five years after publication, whereas the bulk of open access journals indexed by JURN publish articles freely and immediately. There is also little overlap in the titles indexed between JURN and JSTOR, so you’re effectively searching a different range of journals.
Is this just another hasty Google CSE search-engine that’s been built in three hours, and then been forgotten about?: No. It’s had years of intensive work put into it. JURN was launched on 3rd Feb 2009, indexing an initial 850 titles sourced from the old Intute service and topped up with DOAJ links. The building and refining of the core site-index made JURN usable by early March 2009. By early April 2009 JURN came out of alpha. By late May 2009 JURN was indexing over 2,800 titles, the additional titles overwhelmingly found by my own Google searches. By early June 2009 JURN was essentially complete and out of beta, and I announced it as such on the blog. By November 2009 JURN was indexing over 3,400 titles, the total again boosted by my own intensive searching. By February 2011 JURN indexed 4,101 titles. The URL database is actively checked and maintained.
How do you filter out the clutter that surrounds a journal’s core content? JURN doesn’t index the home pages, unless it can’t be avoided. Instead JURN uniquely uses the actual Google-visible article URLs, rather than the basic home-page URLs. Every effort is made to exclude paywalled pages, in journals that are only partly free. For an idea of how JURN indexes only the free articles, see here.
What about link-rot and spam? A regular Linkbot-based ’404 – not found’ hunt is undertaken, based on the links Directory, to help treat the inevitable link-rot. Home-page URLs that are flagged as ‘broken’ or ‘moved’ are investigated and relocated, usually leading to the discovery of a moved content URL. JURN also uses ‘dark side’ SEO software to check if the article-level URLs are still being indexed and displayed in search-results by Google. As for spam, JURN has also been subject to several robust “hand weeding” processes, uncovering spam pages, blogs, calls-for-papers, artist directories, CVs, and similar unwanted items. These can then be blocked, using the Google CSE “Exclude” tool or by tweaking the original URL.
I dislike reading journal articles from my old screen, and yet it costs me a fortune to print them out! It sounds like you need to print using the excellent page-saving Fineprint, using either ‘booklet’ or ‘two-up’ mode. A cheap b&w laser-printer, used in ‘toner save’ mode, will also save on expensive ink cartridges. You might also experiment with combining PDF articles into a single-PDF personal anthology, and printing it as a POD book using the Lulu service (although this requires a good deal of technical ability with Adobe Acrobat, re: embedding fonts). Alternatively — 1) buy an eBook reader that can handle all types of PDF files and saved HTML pages, such as an iPad or similar tablet or 2) buy a new 24″ flat-panel monitor, ideally one of high-quality, which can show two large pages side-by-side (e.g.: like my own Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP-HC). It is also possible to convert PDFs to text for the Kindle eReader.
What does JURN stand for? Your curator comes from a youthful background in science-fiction ‘zines, and as such always liked the idea that an acronym-headed fanzine would have a different explanation of its initials for each issue. This practice was later taken up by some lesbigay publications — see the back-issues list of the queer literary zine RFD as an example. So feel free to make ‘JURN’ stand for anything, on any given day. Journal Usury Recovery Net? Jolly Urbane Reading Node? Jumped Up Rattle o’ Nuthin?
Who made your front-page banner? Thanks to the Blender Foundation for the Creative Commons matte painting used in the background. Colour shifted by me in Photoshop, and the calligraphic font I used for the JURN lettering is ‘Kings & Queens’.
I can’t stand the ‘bouncy puppy effect’ on the JURN Directory. How do I turn it off? Simply save the page to your desktop (as a plain .htm file), and then open it again from there. The interactivity will disappear, and you’ll see a huge list of over 3,000 Web links in four columns. Happy scrolling!
I search for lesbian vampires (or similar) and when I get my JURN results, Google tells me: About 14,800,000 results. So how can JURN possibly be doing a targeted search!? Google is reporting the approximate number of results for these terms in its main search engine. But rest assured that JURN is only calling results from a much smaller subset of that number. Google just doesn’t bother to spend good computation time on finessing the aggregate numbers, for search results pages presented to humble CSE users.
I have installed Firefox 5, and now I can’t get more than one page of results using a JURN search from the main jurn.org Web page? What went wrong? Disable the Firefox addon HTTPS-Everywhere, restart Firefox, and JURN will work again. Dedicated users of HTTPS-Everywhere, for instance those living in repressive nations, can also write a ruleset to exclude Google and JURN from the addon’s encryption process.
Can I submit my title? JURN tracks and adds new URLs from trusted sources such as: DOAJ; NewJour; Open Access Newsletter; and (from Dec 2010) Jan Szczepanski’s lists of new open ejournals. If you don’t think your ejournal is likely to appear in these sources, you’re welcome to leave a comment and your journal’s URL as a posting on this blog. Please first check that your journal is not listed in the JURN Directory…
All 212 “known and working” RSS feeds that are discoverable via this Directory are available in a single newsfeed here.
Could JURN become a fully-fledged independent search-engine, with its own crawler? Yes, indeed. But I need a benefactor with about £20k. I would then be able to guarantee complete coverage via a dedicated crawler/engine, and to comprehensively expand coverage to non-English titles and to a wider selection of ejournals. I estimate that the server costs and my time for this (15 hrs a week @ £6 per hour) would, over three years, cost around £18,000. Perhaps £20,000 with incidentals, some marketing, and inflation taken into account. Note that around £50,000 worth of my ‘sweat equity’ has already been put into the project during its first four years.
Why do this? JURN was created and is curated and maintained by David Haden, a teacher with twelve years of experience. I’ve spent three years making JURN, because I believe that free knowledge needs to be made easily findable. The Web is so big now that useful material can easily become lost in the wide open spaces. So I’ve used the best and fastest tool for online discovery, Google, to build a simple direct interface for finding full-text journal articles. Back in 2009 neither librarians nor publishers seemed to want to do it, or even to believe that the free content existed to be indexed. But I did it and now JURN can be used by anyone in the world with Web access, for free. I think that giving pre-focused and curated access to free knowledge is a worthy task, one worth putting some time into.