Google Scholar is a useful tool for some. It is a web search engine used to look for scholarly literature and academic resources. However, like with most good things, it is not perfect, and many users are now encountering error 403 with Google Scholar.
What users say about error 403 in Google Scholar
In addition to searching for literature and academic resources, Google Scholar can also be used to download citations in different formats and styles. However, some users say they are getting error 403 with Google Scholar when downloading or exporting citations, according to PiunikaWeb.
Affected users say they are unable to download EndNote citations or export citations to the EndNote. Some also claim they are being blocked from downloading citations.
“I am trying to get citations for a paper from google scholar and keep getting the same error ‘Error 403,'” one affected user said.
Another user said they get error 403 with Google Scholar after 4-5 citations.
“I have the same issue, and when it start [sic] working, it is blocked after 4 or 5 others [sic] citations. what kind of robot is google trying to block,” the user said.
One other user also suggested Google could be thinking they are a robot and thus is blocking them.
“After searching for ~10 papers even though I am logged into the account google thinks I’m a robot and asks me to clear a captcha. I do that and search works as normal, however the export stops working and I have to wait for a day for it to work again,” the person said.
Downloaded 5 citations from Google Scholar and this happens and can’t do anything else. Would love to know how downloading citations to stick into Mendeley somehow violates TOS 🙄 pic.twitter.com/QVgOzbF9mI
— John J Shaw (@JohnJJShaw) April 9, 2019
Error 403 in Google Scholar appears to be a widespread issue. There are several threads dedicated to the issue, and affected users are posting about it on other social platforms like Twitter and Reddit as well.
A surefire workaround
One thing several users agreed to is that the issue appears if they use Google Scholar for a long period of time without any rest. The issue automatically disappears after two to three days. However, it is not clear why only exporting to EndNote is affected.
Moreover, affected users say they have tried several tricks like clearing cookies and browsing history, restarting their PC and completing Google “bot” checks, but nothing seems to be helping.
As a workaround, some are suggesting using the similar tool Zotero for citations, while others suggest doing work in segments as the issue arises after heavy use of Google Scholar. These suggestions are workable but may be inconvenient.
One user did come up with a workaround that seems to have solved the problem for many affected users. Moreover, this workaround spotted by PiunikaWeb is easy to implement.
“I found that if you ‘star’ the citation you want, then go to your google scholar library, you can download the citation to your reference manager from there. My interpretation is that google is trying to force people to switch to using their schloar [sic] libarary [sic] instead of programs like endnote,” the person said.
This workaround has worked for almost all users who have tried it.
“Thank you; I try your way to cite the article and it is working correctly,” one user said after trying the workaround.
If you are also seeing error 403 in Google Scholar, then the best way for now is to star the citation you want and then go to your Google Scholar library to download it.
Is this really an issue?
As of now there is no comment from Google on the matter. We should also note that error 403 in Google Scholar is not a new issue. Many users reported the same issue last year. It is not clear why Google is not fixing this issue considering that users have been posting about it since last year.
It’s possible Google does not actually see this as an issue; instead, it might be an intentional change to achieve some hidden objective. A similar point was raised by the user who provided the “star” workaround: that the search giant may be doing it to push users to their Scholar library. If that is the case, Google should communicate its intentions to users who heavily depend on the tool for their daily work.