Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The gatekeeping role of search engines

Eric T. Meyer and Ralph Schroeder, The World Wide Web of Research and Access to Knowledge.  Apparently a preprint.  Self-archived June 19, 2008.  (Thanks Branwen Hide.)

Abstract:   This essay presents a framework for understanding formal and informal scholarly communications that are increasingly online. The essay focuses on e-Research, but argues that e-Research cannot be divorced from a larger context which includes search engines for accessing knowledge, and the digitization and use of databases and journals. The essay reviews research related to the shift towards online scholarship, and develops a systematic framework for understanding access to the online realm. While it is true that there are disciplinary differences in the shift to online materials and in the way that e-Research is being promoted in different fields, there are also certain features that disciplines share, such as infrastructures which provide access to e-Research tools and resources. Within this framework, it is possible to identify the various actors that are shaping the digitization of research materials and how they are used. While it is too early to assess long-term impacts on scholarly practices, since many of the changes are still ongoing, it is nevertheless important to identify key emergent factors (competition for attention, online visibility, and gatekeeping) that will play a key role throughout this evolving system.