Banned from Google

Is it rude to ask people if they’ve been banned from Google?

Contributors to my volume keep telling me they can’t find full references for the stuff they quote in their chapters.

Every time when I hear it, I Google the title and the full reference is always #1 in the search results. I’ve started thinking that people are pranking me on purpose.

These are not old people who haven’t discovered that the Internet exists. This is mostly done by people in their early thirties.

It’s making me so annoyed I have to go outside and stare at beautiful nature (picture attached for reference).

20 thoughts on “Banned from Google”

  1. So they are quoting work they haven’t actually read? That’s thin. I’ve been a witness at workshops on how to do grad school, though, and faculty actually say this — you should skim things for quotations you want, but not actually read. This isn’t scholarship

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I do not know what else to conclude. Your requirement of a page number caused me to reread an article today and it is very smart, and is the article in which I had discovered a theorist of interest to you. I would not know these things if I had not read the whole article — twice now, and it deserves that, and I deserve it.


  2. Are they full references, though? Or only abstracts? A lot of papers are behind paywalls that universities deal with, rather than individuals. Could they be lacking subscriptions?


    1. The one from yesterday was particularly egregious because the whole text of the book was in open access online. It was the first search result on Google. And the author is a dear friend of mine, which made it even more annoying.

      Another similar situation is this. A scholar writes, “as critic X says…” and gives a quote. The quote is not from critic X but from a very famous poet who lived 100 years ago. The critic simply used the quote as an epigraph to his work.

      It’s one thing not to know the quote (although if you are a literary critic, I think you should) but not to recognize that nobody writing today could have spoken in the language of 100 years ago? It’s sad.


    2. So: they’re unemployed, without access to a university or other library, and they want to be scholars, but don’t get it together to find out how to get access (there are lots of ways, that employed people also use, to get texts their own libraries don’t have). And they are citing abstracts but not reading the work. I just don’t see a scenario in which these excuses would even be made UNLESS it’s a general problem: universities taking unprepared students into PhD programs, then rather than teaching them, “professionalizing” them. Then they end up unemployed and also not knowing how to operate, but still trying to publish. Is this what you mean, Pen?


      1. Unfortunately, I do think it’s exactly the problem you describe. I don’t want to name any names in open access but there are programs that accept a large number of graduate students without thinking how well they can prepare them. A graduate student needs to be nurtured, for lack of a better word, individually and mentored in a very personal way to be any good as a scholar. They need to be taught how to work with theory, how to create a solid scholarly base, how to quote meaningfully. You can’t mass produce them. This is artisanal work, so to speak.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, it’s not. I was merely pointing out that many university and public libraries are completely closed to everybody — let alone for ILL. If you’re not on campus, a lot of universities make it so you can’t access their networks, which means you can’t access their subscriptions. Obviously, given Clarissa’s examples, this isn’t the case.

        I wasn’t addressing systemic issues. Only current obstacles that I can see happening right now, in my own community. Forgive me for not looking for the bigger picture.


        1. Yes, but these writers are professors, or PhDs, or near PhDs with professors advising them, or less advanced students with professors advising them … and some are surely from countries where the current situation is always the case, and books are VERY hard to come by. A very large part of a research degree, having one, is knowing how to get around these problems


        2. It’s very difficult to do research without library services. It’s been extremely frustrating.

          But people could at least Google things to see if they had any luck.


          1. But look at the downvotes I’m getting for saying this. Generally I note people are amazed at how I can find things and check sources. They have no idea of what expertise is. But my skills in this aren’t stellar, they’re just good-enough for a professor.


            1. I don’t see the votes but it’s really sad that people are do confused on what good scholarship is about.

              We are all working without library access but I’d never cite anything I haven’t read myself. It’s simply unprofessional.


              1. The degree to which people don’t know how to check and evaluate sources does amaze me, though. Even among faculty. I’ve been in arguments on peer review about journals, people aren’t willing to recognize how comparatively hard it is to get into first tier or necessarily even know those journals. It doesn’t mean work in other journals is bad but if someone’s stuff is all in fancy places it does mean they’re aiming high and hitting.


    3. 1/ If they’re unemployed & are trying to do independent scholarship they will have affiliated with a university library, to use it, OR at the very least know how to use a combination of a public library (these get a lot of journal databases too), sharing sites like ResearchGate, various Facebook groups that are article sharing sites, their friends, and writing the author and asking . . . etc.
      2/ There are very few instances in our field where you’d have a reason to cite an abstract of an article you haven’t read. And full citation info for the article is in the abstract, anyway, so if you want to cite something you haven’t read you can, so long as you don’t quote from it and need to cite a specific page. But that’s still not scholarship. There isn’t really a reason or excuse to do that — if you haven’t read it, you’re not using it, so no point in citing.
      3/ This will be a new cartoon about the complainer culture: wah, wah, I want to do research but I don’t know how to gain access to any scholarship, I need an individual subscription to journals and databases, I have a PhD but no research skills, wah, wah, wah.

      I am perhaps being too harsh, I don’t know.


      1. (Notice the downvote here and on the other post where I talked about ways to deal with poor library access, that people with research skills know, and about not citing things you haven’t read. Is this part of the anti-expertise culture?)


  3. These are articles that you have already tentatively accepted for publication in your book? If so, the writers are good enough to write a decent article and make an innovative and cogent argument, but aren’t very good at doing research? That’s a very curious combination…


    1. I think a lot of graduate students at my place have part of their research done for them by their professors, so they just do the thinking and writing part of things. It’s partly understandable — the library is deficient, students don’t have transportation to frequent better libraries, the sources are foreign and hard to get, so the professor writes their friends abroad and gets them to send things. This seems to happen more than it should


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