This post is another in my series of group tests. It tests public tools used for searching across open access (or otherwise free) academic papers, theses and/or books.

I decided to re-visit the search: mongolian folk song. It’s not a sophisticated search, but rather the sort that an undergraduate might initiate. JURN’s first ever group test, way back in 2009, used the same keywords. That old first test was perhaps rather hastily dashed off, but let it stand. Readers may be able to judge something of the progress (or not) made by search tools during the last six years, by roughly comparing the 2015 results with those of 2009.

Note that I’ve also added some new search tools in this test, new since the last group test in July. The additions are CHORUS, SHARE, Q-Sensei, WorldWideScience, NDLtd, SciLit and EThOS.

One especially worrying conclusion is the penetration of articles from certain questionable publishers into several search services. Read the test for details.

Search: mongolian folk song

JURN group test: mongolian folk song
December 2015. Searching for free full-text academic articles, book chapters, dissertations/theses or other substantial content in English. I clicked through on possible results and evaluated.
DOAJ 0   Used ‘Article’ search. 0 from zero results.
JournalTOCS 0   Zero from zero results. I’m not sure why the JournalTOCS search is consistently at zero, when the service is otherwise rich in article titles and abstracts. The same non-results were had with several different Web browsers, so it’s not my browser blocking some script. A Google site: search across JournalTOCS suggest that at least one article in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology might have appeared.
Paperity 0   Checked first 25 results. All medical/science results, with no result being an ethnographic or musicology paper.
JournalSeek 0   Zero results, from four results. To be fair I should mention that JournalSeek is meant to find journals themselves, rather than their articles.
British Library EThOS 0   0 from zero results.
Q-Sensei 0   0 from six results, all results went to bibliographic records with no fulltext.
Microsoft Academic 0   0 from zero results.
CHORUS   The new beta search tool heavily supported by the major commercial publishers, intended to be a “Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States”. Currently allows searches only by “Funder name”. Therefore, it was not able to be tested. An earlier solo test suggested that many paywalled articles are being included in CHORUS.
SHARE 0   This is the beta of a major well-funded U.S. search tool which eventually aims to become a comprehensive search engine for the world’s repositories. Currently JURN covers the fulltext in about 90% of the same repositories. SHARE showed a promising ability to focus results only on Mongolia, and to avoid semantic entanglements with other national folk musics or with the historic SONG dynasty of China. But the results were all from science, geology, natural history or agriculture. The top three results were from Mongolian Journals Online which currently hosts five open journals. Mongolian Journals Online is not yet in JURN, but will be added soon (it was not added to JURN during/for this test).
Ingenta Connect 0   Zero from one result. One result did appear promising, despite a somewhat misleading title. It detailed an expedition through the Mongolian tablelands which had combined anthropological folksong gathering with attention to local people’s tacit oral knowledge of subtle ecological changes to their landscape — but sadly this article proved to be paywalled for $25 by publisher Peter Lang.
Mendeley 0   Searched ‘Articles’ only, then filtered for Open Access articles only. The first ten results kept some focus, but then dissipated into articles on bird song and humpback whale song. Only two results, on ethnobotanical knowledge among Mongolian nomadic herders, came close to the topic.
CORE 0   Filtered by full-text only. Looked at the first 50 results. CORE’s semantics are obviously still going far astray when presented with this type of wide search. But at least there was no confusion with the Chinese personal name SONG, and halfway through the results there was a detectable but weak focus on Tibetan songs. The first result had a broken link to its fulltext.
OAlib 0   OAlib gave a jumble of general results for various national and regional folk songs, even straying into articles on bird song for a few results. But there was perhaps some attempt at results ranking going on, since a few highly ranked results were to articles on Russian and Turkish folksong. By the third page of results it was picking up articles on the “SONG Dynasty” of China, and also offered “A Review of Mongolian Herbal Medicine” (2008), by author Lin SONG. The latter proved to have a broken link to the fulltext. OAlib’s results now show a sidebar ad for an OALib Journal, with a $99 submission fee. I note that OALib Journal is not a journal included in the DOAJ.
Google News 0   Google News can be surprisingly useful for triangulating contemporary aspects of one’s search topic. It is able to surface reviews, obituaries and journalistic articles from the last six months to a year. A searcher must force verbatim, by enclosing a word in quote marks, otherwise results are very poor. “Mongolian” folk music was thus used for this test. Results revealed that a Mongolian folk metal band, Tengger Cavalry, is currently on a 12-date tour of the west — an event which has spurred short perceptive profiles by music specialists in Chicago Reader and Noisey. The South China Morning Post declares (rather belatedly, since I was listening to them years ago) that in the west, “The next big thing: Hanggai, Mongolian folk rockers…” and the Canadian National Post has a short feature article on Hanggai (plus video) from July 2015 when they toured Canada. ECSN offers a profile of the award-winning Mongolian folk band Haya, and elsewhere the paper briefly claims that the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is racing to record the tradition among older people there… “interviewing and recording performances by the inheritors since September [2015], prioritizing those above 70 and the sick.” Xinhau has published online an English translation from the China Daily of the article “Mongolian man on a musical mission”, a profile of young folk musician Bodee Borjigin who is in training at the Berklee College of Music (USA). However, none of these items were judged to be quite substantial enough to count as a ‘hit’ for the purposes of this test.
WorldWideScience 1   The second result, “On the Mongolian Folk Drawling Song” was a concise and readable overview from 2014, by a Mongolian senior lecturer writing in English for a small Japanese journal. A link to “Disappearing Horchin Mongolian Narrative Songs” at Cambridge proved to have the fulltext locked down behind a password box. Other results were either for plain records or were wildly off-topic.
PQDT Open 1   One result, from 50 results (checked all 50). This search tool is specifically meant to find open theses and dissertations. Found “Mongolian folklore expressed through music technology original multimedia soundtrack “On Horseback””, which was a very short 2014 Masters dissertation meant to accompany and describe the making of a multimedia production.
NDLtd 1   Checked first 50 results. A jumble of general results for various national and regional folk songs, with a slight overall focus on China (where NDLtd appear to be based?). Result no.1, “Folk songs in telugu and kannada”, was a broken link. “Dali and the Song-Mongolian war” was an account of the role of the Dali people in a dynastic Chinese war. Result no.11 was a hit (same as the PQDT Open result, above). A bare record for “A STUDY OF THE MONGOLIAN LAO KIDA” proved to be a broken link. A Hathi link for “Imagining the Chinese tradition: the case of Hua’er songs, festivals, and scholarship” was to a cursory record page with no fulltext. Down at result no.50, “The Mongolian Prairie Dizi’s Music Culture Research” appeared to be in Chinese and anyway had no fulltext available.
OATD 2   2 from two results. The first hit was the same result as at PQDT Open (see above). The second was excellent and contemporary, a substantial four-year 2011 PhD by a Chinese student at the University of Maryland, “Chasing the Singers: The Transition of Long-Song (Urtyn Duu) in Post-Socialist Mongolia”.
OpenAIRE 2   Filtered for “English” and “Open Access”, checked first 50 results. The first result, to “Disappearing Horchin Mongolian Narrative Songs” at Cambridge, proved to have the fulltext locked down behind a password box. “Videofiberoptic laryngeal data and acoustic analysis of the ornamentations used in Mongolian Long Song” proved to be only a conference paper abstract, as did a similar prospect later in the results. “A Comparison of the Image of Home in Mongolian Horqin Lyric Folk Songs and American Cowboy Songs, and “From Gada Merin to Jesse James: A Comparative Study on the Image of Heroes in Mongolian Horqin Folk Songs and American Western Cowboy Songs” both came from the Canadian Center of Science and Education (see the test for SciLit, below, for details on this publisher). There was also an unfortunate crop of off-topic medical results from the early part of the 20th century, e.g. “Brain of a Mongolian Imbecile” (1916) and “Defective Children of Mongolian Type” (1901).
Digital Commons Network (BePress) 3   104 results for the first pass, none seeming to be useful. I then filtered by “Arts and Humanities”. This gave 26 results, including: “Across the Red Steppe: Exploring Mongolian Music in China and Exporting it from Within”, a Masters dissertation; the dissertation-like graduate-school fieldwork report “New Representations of the “Golden Lineage”: The Mongolian Folk Rock of Altan Urag”, part of the Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection at the University of Pittsburgh; and a Masters dissertation “Norovbanzad’s Legacy: Contemporary Concert Long Song in Mongolia”. Switching over to the remaining disciplinary filters gave no further hits for this test.
BASE 3   I chose the option to “boost open access documents” and to do a verbatim search. I had 25 results, noting that some content was labelled as drawn partly from PQDT Open. Most results proved to be fieldwork videos of singers for the World Oral Literature Project which, while valuable, could not be counted for this test. One item was spurious, a 1945 newspaper article from Proviso Township in Illinois. Result No.3, “Wikibooks: Traditional Chinese Medicine” from Wikipedia, might also be deemed questionable given its medical nature. Three results were found to be valid and to have fulltext available: the short Masters dissertation “Mongolian folklore expressed through music technology original multimedia soundtrack “On Horseback””; “On the Mongolian Folk Drawling Song”; and the excellent “Chasing the Singers: The Transition of Long-Song (Urtyn Duu) in Post-Socialist Mongolia”.
SciLit 3   Three from three results: “A Comparative Study of Mongolian Folk Songs Based on the Breathing Signals of Physiological Mechanism”; and two comparative studies, “A Comparison of the Image of Home in Mongolian Horqin Lyric Folk Songs and American Cowboy Songs”; “From Gada Merin to Jesse James: A Comparative Study on the Image of Heroes in Mongolian Horqin Folk Songs and American Western Cowboy Songs”. While at first glance these seem like useful contributions, one should be careful to note the names of the publishers found via SciLit — in this case either the Canadian Center of Science and Education or the commercial China based conference organiser and journal publisher Atlantis Press. Beall notes, re: his 2015 list, that “I recommend that all researchers avoid publishing in all the journals published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education” and I note here that the CCSE’s journals are not indexed by either JURN or the DOAJ. Nor are the Atlantis Press journals in the DOAJ or JURN.
Google Search 4   Used a Web browser not signed in to Google, and used a URL that told Google to draw results from its complete index. Put “Mongolian” in quote marks, to try to force verbatim. Checked the first 50 results. Top four results were valid short video clips, followed by “Music of Mongolia” on Wikipedia. Result no.7 was a very short UNESCO page “Mongolian Traditional Folk Long Song”. Result no.10 was “Contemporary trends in the Mongolian folksong tradition”, a one-page newsletter article by a Mongolian ethnomusicologist and lecturer at Kent State. The status of the author was weighted against the shortness of the article, and this was judged a ‘hit’. The second page included the Atlantis Press paper “A Comparative Study of Mongolian Folk Songs Based on the Breathing Signals of Physiological Mechanism” — see the SciLit test (directly above) for details on Atlantis Press. The third page yielded the article “Blue Heaven, Parched Land: Mongolian Folksong and the Chinese State” on By the fifth page, the ubiquitous .mp3 spam/virus sites were starting to creep in, but among these was the valid “On the Mongolian Folk Drawling Song” academic article.
OPENDoar 5   Examined first 50 results. Valid and in fulltext on the first page were: “On the Mongolian Folk Drawling Song”; the thesis “URTIIN 
 NATION” (not seen, before that point), the Masters dissertation “Moving Melodies: Contemporary Music Culture of Mongolian Nomads and Opportunities for Contextualization”; the thesis “Chasing the Singers: The Transition of Long-Song (Urtyn Duu) in Post-Socialist Mongolia”. Further pages had duplicates of earlier articles, only adding “The Negotiation of Minority Identities and Representation in the Independent Music Scene of Urban China”. This was only a short conference paper, but it was judged to be useful background on the tradition’s negotiations with modernity and with other ethnic traditions.
Google Scholar 6    Searched on “mongolian” folk song to force a partial verbatim search, and checked first 50 results with citations excluded. The no.1 result was the spurious result that had seemed to pop up everywhere in 2009, W.E.B. Du Bois’s book The Souls of Black Folk (1903). This was the only instance of the book’s appearance in this 2015 test. “Blue Heaven, Parched Land: Mongolian Folksong and the Chinese State” was in fulltext at no.5. Both “”Performing identity through language: The local practices of urban youth populations in post-socialist Mongolia” and “Mongolian oral epic poetry: An overview” were judged to be background articles, but looked useful enough to be counted as hits. The survey “Ethnic minorities in Chinese films: cinema and the exotic” was judged a little too tangential to be a hit. Further hits were: “A Comparative Study of the Singing Styles of Mongolian and Tibetan Geser/Gesar Artists”; “New Representations of the ‘Golden Lineage’: The Mongolian Folk Rock of Altan Urag”; and “A Comparative Study of Mongolian Folk Songs Based on the Breathing Signals of Physiological Mechanism” (Atlantis Press, again).
FreeFullPDF 7   7 from 17 results. Result no.1 was the article from Atlantis Press, and no.3 and 6 were from the Canadian Center of Science and Education (see item on SciLit, above, for discussion on why these publishers are questionable). Seven were counted as valid hits, including the articles from these publishers.
JURN 19   Looked at first 50 results, searched for “mongolian” folk song to force partial verbatim. Results and hits (in bold) are given below. Again a key finding is that JURN is now large enough to provide results through to result No.100. So, given a well-formed search, people who are habituated to just look at the first ten results in Google should explore the full set of 100 results in JURN. Searches should ideally be specific and detailed in JURN, rather than three keywords.

JURN results:

1. “Contemporary trends in the Mongolian folksong tradition of Urtyn Duu”.

2. “Blue Heaven, Parched Land: Mongolian Folksong and the Chinese State”.

3. “On the Mongolian Folk Drawling Song”.

4. “New Representations of the ‘Golden Lineage’: The Mongolian Folk Rock of Altan Urag”.

5. Abstract for “Blue Heaven, Parched Land: Mongolian Folksong and the Chinese State”.

6. “Survival of the Fittest: The Urtyn Duu Tradition in Changing Mongolia” (Smithsonian Folkways magazine)


8. folder for articles in ‘Mongolian folk/traditional music’. (None were in English).

9. “A Comparative Study of the Singing Styles of Mongolian and Tibetan Geser/Gesar Artists” (Journal of Oral Tradition).

10. Contemporary trends in the Mongolian folksong tradition of urtyn duu (duplicate).

11. “Chinese and Western elements in contemporary Chinese composer…” (Chinese composer who mixed various traditions including Mongolian)

12. “Chasing the Singers: The Transition of Long-Song (Urtyn Duu) in Post-Socialist Mongolia”.

13. “Red Sonic Trajectories – Popular Music and Youth in China” (brief speech made in Amsterdam, 2001).

14. “Mongolian Folklore and perception of space” (A very brief article).

15. folder for articles in ‘Mongolian Folklore’. (Had “The Last Outstanding Mongghul Folksong Singer” from Asian Highlands Perspectives journal).

16. “UNESCO’s World of Music”, Smithsonian Folkways magazine. Brief mention of a reissue by Hungaroton/UNESCO of the album Mongolian Folk Music, “recorded by Lajos Vargyas in 1967 when Mongolia was still closed off” and which preserved for the first time the overtones in the voices.

17. Ethnomusicology OnLine review of the album Living Music of the Steppes: Instrumental Music and Song of Mongolia.

18. “Mongolian Oral Epic Poetry: An Overview”. (Tangential, but useful background).

19. “Mongolian foreign policy: the Chinese dimension.”

20. “A Comparative Analysis of Eurasian Folksong Corpora.”

21. folder for documents in ‘Mongolian Music’. (Lots of French articles and also “The Cuur as Endangered Musical Instrument of the Urianxai Ethnic Group in the Mongolian Altai Mountains” / “The Camel and its Symbolism in the Daily Life of the Mongols with Particular Reference to their Folk Songs”).

22. “MA SI-CONG’S VIOLIN CONCERTO IN F MAJOR: WESTERN TRADITIONS AND CHINESE ELEMENTS” (Chinese composer who mixed various traditions including Mongolian)

23. “Urtiin Duu, traditional folk long song. Mongolia, China.” (Short descriptive entry and video from the UNESCO list of Intangible Heritage. Too short to be a hit.)

24. “Cultural policy in the Mongolian People’s Republic”. (Concise and factual UNESCO overview pamphlet from 1982. A little too tangential to count as a hit, and has probably been superseded by other texts).

25. “The Mechanisms of Epic Plot and the Mongolian Geseriad.”

26. “A SURVEY OF THE UNACCOMPANIED VIOLIN REPERTOIRE, CENTERING ON WORKS BY J.S. BACH AND EUGENE YSAŸE” (tangential, composer happened to use a fragment of a Mongolian song in one work)


28. Three page book review of Mongolian Music, Dance, and Oral Narrative: Performing Diverse Identities.

29. ‘On Huaer’ and ‘Selections of Traditional Qinghai Folk Songs’ (Three page book review of these 1980s titles. The collectors are berated, in passing, for ignoring Mongolian songs).

30. documents in the folder ‘Buryat Folklore’. (1970s “Literary translation of three Mongolian and two Buryat shaman songs, one historical folksong and one horse praising song with notes and illustration.” — but sadly not in English).

31. “A Musical Map of Different Turkic-Speaking Peoples as based on Field Work from 1936 until the Present”.

32. documents in the folder ‘Mongolic languages and dialects’ (Nothing relevant in English)

33. “Conclusion: Voice and Persona” (Conclusion and bibliography of a thesis on Chinese popular music)

34. “Mongolian Music, Dance, and Oral Narrative: Performing Diverse Identities” (Book review in Journal of Folklore Research)

35. “The Mechanisms of Epic Plot and the Mongolian Geseriad”.

36. “UNESCO: Eight new elements inscribed on List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding”. UNESCO’s listing in 2011 of: “Folk long song performance technique of Limbe performances – circular breathing, Mongolia: The Limbe is a side-blown flute of hardwood or bamboo, traditionally used to perform Mongolian folk long songs. … only fourteen individual Limbe practitioners remaining.” (One paragraph, to slight to be a hit)

37. English review of the book Mongolische Erzdhlungen iiber Geser, Neue Aufzeichnungen. Review of a German translation via Russian of the product of “two [Russian epic folksong collecting] expeditions to Mongolia in 1974 and 1976, expeditions which were organized by the Academy of Sciences of the People’s Republic of Mongolia.” Followed by a review of the German 1985 book Mongolische Epen XI, with very close attention paid by one of the then-experts in the field.

38. documents in the folder ‘Oirat History’. Tangential result: “Yurts [tents] in Be si chung, a Pastoral Community in Amdo: Form, Construction, Types, and Rituals”, and “The Khotons of Western Mongolia” (1979).

39. “Life on the divide: the Buriad people and the world’s longest border” (University of Cambridge research article from 2013, describes “A major project – Where Rising Powers Meet – looks at life along the border that separates Russia, China and Mongolia.” Passing mention of the Buriad folk song tradition).

40. “Hawaii Chinese Dancing and Songs Theatre”. Paragraph of biography for “Juan Huang […] traveled extensively within China [in the 1980s], collecting the folk dance forms of many of China’s 56 distinct ethnic groups.” She ended up in Hawaii in 2003 where she founded and ran the Hawaii Chinese Dancing and Songs Theatre troupe.

41. “Landscape in Words: The Natural World in Mongolia Folk Literature and Contemporary Poetry”. (One page research project summary by a 2005 Fulbright Scholar).

42. “Art, Ritual, and Representation: An Exploration of the Roles of Tsam Dance in Contemporary Mongolian Culture”.

43. “Landscape in Language: Representations of Homeland in Mongolian Magtaal and Song” (in American Center for Mongolian Studies newsletter, Spring 2006)

44. “Dream and Sacrifice” (profile of composer Kimmo Hakola, who happened to use a Mongolian song fragment in a work)

45. “The Mongolian Big Dipper Sutra” (Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Discovery that a Mongolian epic song “preserves a Chinese Buddhist text for the worship of the seven stars/Buddhas of the Big Dipper [star constellation] that is not found in the Chinese canon.”)

46. documents in the folder ‘Mongolian History in Qing period’. Possibly of tangential interest would be “Religion and Mongol Identity in the mid-19th Century Urga. On the Basis of a Mongolian Monk’s Oral Narratives Recorded by Gabor Balint of Szentkatolna in 1873”.

47. “Concept Paper for an Inner Asian and Mongolian Studies Collaborative Online Reference Guide”.

48. documents in the folder ‘Mongolian History in Qing period’. (Has “The Melodic System of Pentatonicism (A sketch about the Mongolian version)” and “”Voices that Soar like Wind Through the Mountains”: Mongol-European Hybridity, Ecomusicology and Compassion in Urtyn Duu Long-Song”).

49. Bibliography for the works of Alexandra Arkhipova, at the Centre of Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies, Russian State University for the Humanities.

50. Duplicate of no.49.

Skipping lightly through the next 50 results (JURN provides 100 results), one can easily note a number of background items such as:

* “The cultural anthropology of the Sino-Mongolian frontier”.

* “Folklore and Folklife of Central Asian Women”.

* UNESCO 1983 overview booklet “Cultural policy in the People’s Republic of China: Letting a hundred flowers blossom”.