Sunday, 13 March 2011

Please help to develop JURN!

An unusual post at Film Studies For Free today, for which this blog begs your indulgence. FSFF's author has just pledged a sum of money in support of the project set out below. It would like you to read the information given and consider whether you believe that this is a project you can afford to support with at least a very small donation.

Obviously, it's not in support of disaster relief, a self-evidently essential cause for us all to find money for, especially at the moment. But it is for an important kind of solidarity, nonetheless, as you will see if you read the text below.

If you are a regular reader of Film Studies For Free it's a form of solidarity from which, FSFF hopes, you are already benefitting in some small way: the JURN search engine is one of this blog's main hunting grounds for Open Access scholarly material.

Anyway, here's the pledge link if you feel at all inspired by the up-to-now completely selfless (and continuing to be not-for-profit) work of JURN's creator.  It's a 'crowd-funding' project, so if the target amount isn't reached, pledged donations won't have to be paid. Thank you. 

My name is David Haden. In February of this year I celebrated two years of hand-crafting the best search engine possible for finding free open-access academic content in the arts and humanities. That's right, it only finds the free content.  You may have used Google Scholar, only to find page-after-page of links that lead only to requests for payment or passwords.  My JURN search-engine is different.  Almost every link you see in JURN should lead you to free full-text scholarly content, most of it from peer-reviewed journals.

Now I want to take JURN to the next stage.  I've already made a big start.  My JURN  search-engine has been intensively developed over the last two years.  I've put in thousands of hours of my own expert labour.  JURN is now a mature service that runs on the Google CSE platform, albeit one that's bursting at the seams to expand.

JURN is very easy to use, and among others it helps those who do not have access to expensive commercial academic databases. People in the developing world often only have minimal access to academic journals outside of the fields of healthcare and agriculture, even if they study at a university.  People like Yusrina Abu Bakar in Malaysia, a mature-student and mother of four who is undertaking a university degree.  She wrote of JURN in 2010...

"Wow, this is great... I can get articles in full - no more abstracts only, or the site asks us to subscribe.  Thank you."

Now I want your help to expand JURN, to provide an easy-to-use full-text search service worthy of the world's hungry minds.

I've already spent two years intensively building JURN, a comprehensive Google Custom search-engine for open scholarly journals in the arts and humanities.  I've tracked down and indexed over 4,000 scholarly and arts publications, a great many of which do not appear on any other index.  Now I want to break free of Google and run JURN on my own server and web harvester.  Thankfully the excellent mature search software SearchBlox became free in late 2010, and is perfect for the job.

SearchBlox will let me go beyond the limits that Google places on its free Custom Search Engines.  It will let me expand coverage beyond Google's 5,000 URL indexing limit.  It will let me fully index all relevant web content, and fully index every article found (Google limits the results a Google CSE can access, compared to the main Google Search). It will let me add many new features and refinements to the search results.

I now need a server that's capable of speedily running SearchBlox and making the substantial initial "document harvesting and indexing" run of about a million documents.  Sadly, that doesn't come cheap.  I also need to buy myself some hours each week so I can further develop and build this free non-profit service. JURN also needs to be regularly checked for link rot, which is aided by several semi-automated software packages - including some "dark side" SEO software that I've converted for more useful purposes.

If this project is funded, after initial setup I would hope to be able to add indexing of open-access business journals, expand into education and social science journals, and add academic papers that are self-archived on faculty Web pages, as well as expanding the existing arts and humanities coverage.  I want to make JURN the world's outstanding search-engine for free academic content in the arts, humanities and social sciences.  I also want to properly expand beyond content that's in the English language.  With your help, I can do it.  Please make a donation.  The minimum amount is just £3.

If you have any inquiries regarding this project, please contact me via Ulule or via the JURN blog.  If you just want to find out more about JURN, please take a look at the website at and directory of English-language journals at

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