Research Remix

August 15, 2008

Quosa usage can violate PubMed Central terms of service

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Heather Piwowar @ 11:20 am

Has anyone else had a problem with Quosa and PubMed Central?

Quosa sounds great.  “Full-text journal workflow solutions.”  Exactly what I need, poof, no custom code required.

I downloaded the free demo.  I wanted some full-text for text mining: a large number of articles from years ago… they are available for free on the publisher’s website.  Quosa was simple to get going, and the first articles were retrieved with no problem.  But soon, lo and behold, rather than the articles I was getting a webpage with a message from PubMed Central:  IP blocked due to Bulk downloading of content.  Aaaaah!

I’m aware of PMC’s policy and have designed custom download methods to respect it (while working to get it changed).  I didn’t realize that Quosa was downloading the articles from PMC.  In retrospect it is clear, because the early articles it retrieved were in PMC format, though that was not obvious from the download interface.  Most people aren’t going to be aware of PMC’s restrictions, and so won’t know to look for the problem.

Quosa doesn’t seem to have any mechanisms by which one can specify the source of the articles (so that I could have requested they be downloaded from the publisher’s website).   I must admit in my late-evening haste I didn’t read the licencing agreements when I installed the demo… perhaps there were some warnings there?  The issue doesn’t seem to be covered in their FAQ.

Hmmmmm.  No more Quosa for me.  I’ll email them and ask for clarification, for the record.  I’ve also emailed PMC to ask for forgiveness and an unblocking.


  1. I guess you’ve gotta purchase the software. My university has bought the license for university users and I’ve never seen such warning for the last year.

    Comment by Jason — September 30, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

  2. Interesting. Have you downloaded many (100+) articles at a time, do you think? It also probably depends on the journal and age of the articles, whether Quosa decides to download them from PubMed Central or elsewhere.

    I can’t imagine how buying the software would help. It is an issue with PubMed Central’s terms of use.

    For what it is worth, I did write to Quosa to ask for clarification, and they’ve never gotten back to me.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience too.

    Comment by Heather Piwowar — October 1, 2008 @ 9:30 am

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