Anthrosource is still #Fail

The “new” Anthrosource came out in January of 2009, and made Chris Kelty cry. In three and a half years it still hasn’t been fixed. Why not?

Do the following experiment. Pick a keyword and search for it on Anthrosource. Done? How many hits did you get? OK, now go to Wiley and search just one journal, let’s pick American Ethnologist. Search for the same keyword. How many hits did you get? Each time I do this I get several orders of magnitude more search results for AE alone than I do for a search engine that is supposed to search the entire contents of all the AAA journals.

For a paper I’m reviewing I wanted to see how anthropologists have been using Badiou. Anthrosource gives me a total of one result. AE gives me 35, which isn’t a lot, but is still a lot more than one. Even a more popular scholar like Foucault only gets 35 hits on Anthrosource but 592 in AE. (This is true even if you do an “advanced” search on Anthrosource searching “anywhere in the article.”) Considering that Anthrosource is supposed to be one of the main “benefits” we get as AAA members, this is shameful.

[PS: I’m still interested in knowing if any anthropologists have made particularly good or interesting use of Badiou in their work. If you know of anything, please share it in the comments. But, knowing our readers, I have to ask that you please refrain from using this as an opportunity to vent about Badiou or French philosophy in general.]

UPDATE: OK, I didn’t notice this before, but on the bottom of the “advanced search” page on Anthrosource it says “On this page you can search article authors, titles and abstracts. You can also use the links below to perform your search.” The link sends you to Wiley. As Hugh Jarvis explains, the reason I get more results there is that Wiley is actually doing a full text search, not just the titles and abstracts (which is what Anthrosource is doing). This is particularly confusing because the Anthrosource advanced search form says you will search “anywhere in the article” by default – but the text at the bottom contradicts this. Unfortunately, AFAIK there is no way to narrow one’s Wiley search to the list of Anthrosource journals, so you have to either search across all of Wiley’s content, or you have to search one journal at a time. I see from the comments that I am not the only one who was confused by this.

7 thoughts on “Anthrosource is still #Fail

  1. Kerim I couldn’t agree with you more. I spent the first year of graduate school (2010) convinced I was somehow using Anthrosource incorrectly. The concept behind having Anthrosource is rather brilliant but the actual product leaves so much lacking. I often even have trouble locating articles I know should be on Anthrosource because I have found them through a basic google search. Last fall at the AAAs, a survey was conducted about Anthrosource. Has anything come it? My guess is that the problem lies in two factors, the type of search engine being utilized and/or the way key terms were coded. It is clear from the less that spectacular search results to key words that the search does not actually involve a successful search of all the words in an article.

  2. As a web designer, it bothers me greatly that the drop down menus on the AAA site open roughly 20 pixels below the navigation bar in almost every browser. At first, I thought it was just that at the time of the redesign my browser was obscure. But, it happens in most browsers. Then I thought, they would fix it after they settled in. But, no, it still happens…

    Oh well.

  3. Hi, Kerim. I wasn’t aware of this bug in the AS search and am making inquiries (I’m still a member of CFPEP).

    From what I can see so far, it’s searching title and abstract fields, but not “anywhere in the article” as it promises. I suspect that’s not news to you, but at least it gives us something to work with.

    ps. Im curious why you are doing an open-text search for people citing badiou instead of a guided citation search. Did you feel you would (ideally) get more results that way..?


  4. Wow. I am very happy that you pointed this out. Searching on Anthrosource has often turned up surprisingly few results, even for topics that are historically important in anthropology. I am glad to know that I can go directly to Wiley to get better results, but the issue really does need to be addressed.

  5. I second the emotion on the menubars — getting the items you want to is actually a sort of mini-game built into the site — you have to imagine where the item you want will be when the menubar is visible, mouse over the title, and then move and click before the menu closes.

    Your tax dollars at work, folks.

  6. I’ve updated the post to reflect the fact that Anthrosource does say (at the bottom of the advanced search form) that it will only search titles and abstracts, even though the search options say otherwise. This would be less of a problem if Wiley’s advanced search had the option to select only Anthropology journals, but AFAIK it does not – you have to either search all of Wiley’s content or just one journal at a time.

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