Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Online Information Review





First Page


Last Page





This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

This version is a postprint prior to final copyediting. For the version of record, please see

Date of Submission

July 2014


Purpose - Google Scholar was used to locate free full-text versions of computer science research papers to determine what proportion could be freely accessed.
Design/methodology/approach - A sample of 1967 conference papers and periodical articles from 2003-2010, indexed in the ACM Guide to Computing Literature, was searched for manually in Google Scholar, using the paper or article title and the first author’s surname and supplementary searches as needed.
Findings - Free full-text versions were found for 52% of the conference papers and 55% of the periodical articles. Documents with older publication dates were more likely to be freely accessible than newer documents, with free full-text versions found for 71% of items published in 2003 and 43% of items published 2010. Many documents did not indicate what version of the document was presented.
Research limitations/implications - Results were limited to the retrieval of known computer science publications via Google Scholar. The results may be different for other computer science publications, subject areas, types of searches, or search engines.
Practical implications - Users of Google Scholar for finding free full-text computer science research papers may be hindered by the lower access to recent publications. Because many papers are freely available, libraries and scholarly publishers may be better served by promoting services they provide beyond simple access to papers.
Originality/value – Previous research showed lower levels of free access than we found for computer science, but the decline found in this study runs contrary to increases found in previous research.

Recommended Citation

Lee A. Pedersen, Julie Arendt, (2014) "Decrease in free computer science papers found through Google Scholar", Online Information Review, Vol. 38 Iss: 3, pp.348 - 361.


Copyright Emerald Group Publishing