A recent post here asked, “Who does not like free food and drink?” A librarian’s corollary to that might be, “Who does not like free full-text access?”
As that baby in the Jimmy Fallon commercial demonstrates, there’s an exception to most every rule. In the case of full-text access, count the US State Department as a curious outlier.
See, more than a year ago WikiLeaks published the full text of 23 State Department cables, which are much like emails. News organizations everywhere reported the juicy bits they found in these (previously) secret documents.
Since the State Department never officially released the cables, fun-loving lawyers filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the 23 documents just to see what would happen.
Amusingly, our government released eleven of these already-available-on-the-internet-for-everyone-to-see documents—going to the trouble of editing them heavily—and suppressed the other twelve entirely. It’s kind of instructive to look at them here; mousing over the blank passages will bring up the parts you’re not supposed to see.
Today’s Valuable Lesson:
For the ambitious academic researcher, there’s a lesson in all this that has nothing to do with Area 51, nor with Building 7 nor with any other supposed coverup. It’s just this: Don’t ever be fooled by by the seeming absence of full text.
Sometimes you’ll be Googling your topic and an article from JSTOR, say, will appear in the results. Then, if you’re off campus, when you click you’ll see a price tag for the full text of the article.
A good way avoid this trap is to use our library’s authenticated Google Scholar search. You’ll need to log in with your KU credentials, but once you do it’ll work just like the same good ol’ Google you know & love. The difference is that it’ll now give you direct, free links straight to the content of many of our databases.