Tag Archives: academic-library

Microsoft Academic Search

With scholarly communications on the brain, I was thrilled to learn about Microsoft Academic Search (MAS).  Building on the work of resources like Google Scholar that gathers and indexes journal articles and Scopus and Web of Science that gathers information about how and where articles are cited by other researchers, Microsoft Academic Search brings these two items together in a *free* search. MAS also enhances the information with direct organization and department scholarly output comparisons.  Some features, like the Call for Papers (CFP) Calendar, are very much in beta but would be an overwhelmingly useful tool for academics to help manage the many, many CFPs and conference submission deadlines.

To better understand my resource comparisons, I took a sample author and compared the citation results in MAS and Scopus; images of my search results appear in the slideshow below.  The author information in MAS and Scopus both listed 4 articles publications, indicating that perhaps this information was correct.  Yet, when I looked at the 4 articles listed in each, I found that MAS had a duplicate entry for one article and, therefore, completely missed a publication.  Using the Help on MAS, I could get a look at all of the publishers they are working with and could identify that the missing article was from Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Witkins.  For the health sciences, nursing, and medicine, they are a pretty major publisher so the absence of their information in MAS would be a significant hindrance.  At the same time, the openness with which Microsoft lists their sources made this tracking down easy.

At the article level, in Scopus, the article “Breast cancer disparities and decision-making among U.S. women” was cited 24 times since its publication in 2007 (although Scopus lists the default “Cited by since 1996”) and has 84 references within the paper.  In MAS, only 60 references are listed and 15 cited papers are listed.  What happened to the rest?  This may be one of the drawbacks to the *free* service.  Looking a little closer at the details, it appears that Scopus is more complete while MAS currently stops at about 2010 for its citations.  I’m guessing a similar limitation may be the issue with the references.  While the resource appears to be in a very early beta phase, may need some data corrections, and, currently, it still doesn’t seem to account for other measures of impact such as social media sharing, it looks like I have another new toy to share with faculty in the Fall….

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For updates on MAS, you can stalk, er, follow them more directly @MSFTAcademic

How to Measure the Impact of Scholarship

Stemming from a conversation with one of my faculty members, I began trying to define, explain, and provide support to the concepts of impact factors or other journal/article evaluation tools.  Being a smaller, more instruction-focused campus, we don’t currently use impact factor ratings as part of the scholarship evaluation of our faculty.  However, more and more my faculty are collaborating with researchers at other institutions, so they (and I) need to know how to speak the language of modern scholarly communication.  To help expedite your questions in the area, here are a few key terms to be familiar with and tools you can use to support your curious faculty.

Impact factor

  • measures the number of citations from the average article in a journal over a span of about 2 years
  • started in the 1960s by Thompson Reuters
  • originally used as a collection development tool to help identify most popular journals for library purchasing
  • impact factor for a journal is now incorporated as a way to evaluate individual article impact, influencing where authors try to publish
  • Problem: peaked around the 1990s, as the advent and increased utilization of the internet has moved people away from using print resources and only having scholarly communication in journals
Further Readings

The Thomson Reuters Impact Factor

The Demise of the Impact Factor

The Weakening Relationship between the Impact Factor and Papers’ Citations in the Digital Age

Other Factors

Eigenfactor – “measure of the journal’s total importance to the scientific community” – aka big journals=big scores

Altmetrics – tracking system that attempts to note not just the electronic article usage in digital forms like Twitter or CiteULike, but also other information resources like datasets or blogs.  This is tough to tackle but the various tools below are starting to develop some interesting methodologies

So, like many things, the digital age, the increased retrieve-and-shareability of research is changing how we consider the value of research.  In the full circle of things, I wonder how these other metrics, particularly Altmetrics, can impact our collection development, too.  I look forward to discussing these concepts and more at the ACRL Scholarly Communications Roadshow at JMU.

Adventures in recording and captioning

As part of a project to provide additional resources to our student workers about how to identify peer-reviewed resources (since EBSCO is a bit of a crap shoot), I decided to create a short tutorial about defining the terminology, show how search results may or may not identify peer-review-age, and how to navigate the peer-review identification authority, Ulrichs.   With the help of our amazing Center for Information Technology (CIT), I got a rundown on Camtasia vs Captivate recording options, equipment, and systems.  Thinking this would be on the shorter side (>10 minutes), I decided to test out Camtasia since I was already familiar with Jing.  Plus, our Camtasia setup allowed submission of videos to a Relay server for automatic captioning instead of manually editing the captions in Captivate….or so I thought.  Being the responsible person I am, I drafted up the script ahead of time (apart from some minor tweaks) and thought it would be great.  However,  here are some of the captions

My text:  “…about the types of resources students use for their research.”

Relay-suggested caption: “…every horse themed use for their research.”

My text: “In particular, professors are requiring students to use peer-reviewed articles for their research resources.”

Relay-suggested caption: “the killer perfect and I are requiring didn’t eat Peer Reviewed articles for their Easter treat”

And that’s just within the first 10 seconds.  Other gems include

My text: “so use the dropdown box in QuickSearch to limit your search to Just Scholarly Articles”

Relay-suggested caption: “the is the goddamn boxing cricket to many a six contests scholarly article”

So for a >5 min video, I probably spent about another hour fixing the captions.  To view the final product (at least of this round),  go to JMUtube and check out “How to Identify Peer-Reviewed or Refereed Resources.”

2011 California Conference of Library Instruction notes

Are you feeling tired? Worn down by grading too many papers? More inspired by the end of Spring semester/quarter? Then, you feel just like me.  The cure: CCLI.  In one day, I’ve been not only inspired to better structure my outreach for effective acceptance by students, but also got to explore new online learning tools and consider hope for my academic librarian future.

The morning started out with cocktail umbrellas and Mad Men as Emily Missner asked us to reconsider what we think of as library resource advertising.  With her real world, ad agency experience, Emily began the morning with some basic concepts to reach our student population sweet spot (18-34 year olds). First, develop a unique personality that fits self images.  Second, evoke sn emotional response. Finally, create a stimulating experience.  As a model of how this works, the attendees brainstormed ideas of successful ads and marketing camaigns, such as Apple.  Often times, libraries advertise new resources like how vendors pitch to us – but do students really care about how many thousands of publication titles are in a database? NO.  So why do we keep telling them this?

Next, she shared her own approach of a listserv.  I know, I know, listservs are not Web 2.0 chic but, like Draper and the Kodak Carosel, she knows how to sell it to students, faculty, and alumni (about 2,000 to be exact).  Mood (like major holidays), nostaglia or pop culture, analogy, and anthropomorphism are her ingredients for success.  I would also state that her prudent use of once or twice a quarter in key weeks 3, 7, and/or 8 makes timing a sixth unnamed ingredient.

After a lovely lunch, Debbie Faires dove into the nuts and bolts of online education, methods, and a wide array of resources.  Now, first of all, online education in a purely-online-no-in-person-meeting-EVER has grown 21%.  Learning management system usage (the Moodle, Blackboards, etc of the world) is estimsted to be 1 in 3 students. Therefore, Debbie tooj a broad approach first identifying the various types of interaction between students and faculty, students and content, and student to student.  To minimize the isolation effect, all of these have to be in place.  Discussions across asynchronous, sychronous, and in between communication styles and tools encouraged good conversation from many of the other attendees.

As our final keynote speakers, Dr. Dale Jacobs and Dr. Heidi Jacobs reminded us not just what we do as being good enough, but also to “hope, a way to think things through as a group to make things better.” As the extended metaphor of this reflective librarianship, they referred back to the isolated island also being a complex ecosystem.  The rare species found in the Galapagos might be isolated from larger continents with better documentariand but it doesn’t mean that the vegetative life and animal life on the island don’t have to find a mutual cooperation for their shared survival.  With budgets and institutions needing to make use of what we have and better, librarians cannot just consider themselves as isolated entities in the sea of academia.  So, the Jacobs asked the hard questions and made us think about what we might start answering.  For example, what do you want from your info lit program? Who do you need to talk with? What do you need to do to make yourself avaliable to listening to other peoples’ responses? I have some notes of names and ideas but I’ll save my actions and findings for another post….    

Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

With a rare formula of energy, time, and motivation, I was assigned a brief orientation for a Humanities class with the focus to introduce students to the library, the catalog, and the databases in about 30 minutes.  So, I wanted to get creative.  I know my content but selling the first minute or two is my usual stumbling point and it also happens to be the small window I get to actually have students get interested or mentally checkout.  Being the pop culture diva I am, I wanted something funny and relatable for my community college students, so nothing too age specific.  In my YouTube search, I started with general library clips but quickly made my way to the iconic Ghostbusters.  Scenes from the original and the more recent NYPL re-enactment quickly got added to the list but the real key, I believe, was knowing how to integrate these effectively.

So this is how the sequence went:

While students enter class, play this in the background to set the tone, get them curious about what is going on in the front of the room, etc.

Next, at the beginning of the class, start playing the first 20 seconds of this video on mute, noting how the library used to be with books, card catalogs, and the scary thought of doing research (timing is key to get the scream/scary research effect)

Next, launch into library intro

  • hours
  • facilities (printing, copying, computers, study rooms)
  • website

Catalog (Bloomsday related examples since it was June 16th)

  • Subject v keyword
  • demo search (Ulysses) – more refined resource lists/name disambiguation from the general and the mythological character
  • Review a record (location, call #, status)
  • Save record–>view saved–>Print/Email/Request/Hold
  • Request/hold individual books
  • ELECTRONIC BOOK EXAMPLE (under keyword results)
    • how to access in library & at home


  • Academic Search Elite
  • SIRS Researcher
  • Boolean operators
  • AND, OR, NOT – human example
  • Full-text, peer-reviewed, date range, source type, etc.
  • Show article
  • Email/print/save functions

Conclude with the note that Reference Librarians are there to help you and not do this…..

The giggles and lots of mid-presentation questions told me that the research and listening to the Ghostbusters’ theme song at least 25 times paid off.  Now, I must channel my 1980s childhood and finally dance like I wanna to the theme song.  Now, if I could just find my slap bracelet and blue Reebok hightops…..

Technological advances in education

In less than 12 hours, I’ve come across a couple of very interesting pieces discussing two trends in academia these days: eTextbooks and online learning.

Wired posted an article about the first all-digital science textbook, and not just a digital copy of a print textbook at that.  For early iPad adopters, the transition from print to digital distribution of materials like newspapers and magazines have been a topic of discussion for a few months now.  The digital format offers so many more ways to present, display, and interact with information that digital publications can go far beyond just the text and still photographs of a print layout.  The textbook has a LOT of promise (and the visualization on the book using an iPad in the last video in the article ain’t bad).  At the same time, at what cost?  Textbooks are already unbelievably expensive and many campuses are turning to textbook rental services to help students and themselves not fall to the multi-billion dollar industry.  This example has a non-profit, a nobel laureate, and paying or making the bells and whistles, but what would be the cost for a more standard digital textbook along these lines?

The second article addresses the role of online education for students attending the traditional bricks and mortar university.  As one of those online instructors for a traditional bricks and mortar institutions, I am part of this on-going experiment.  My students, so far, range from those who are self-propelled and motivated to succeed.  Those students, most likely, would do the same whether I was in front of them or not.  The others struggle, partially due to technological difficulties, but more with general preparation problems.  Organization, freedom/initiative to ask questions, and curiosity are not always items permissible in our high school education system so I have the hoverers who want constant reassurance they are completing the task correctly and others who disappear into the digital ether.  A more traditional class would hold them….other than the whole ditching thing.  Having been a student, I also understand the disconnect that can occur when you don’t have to face your educational maker every week.  But, isn’t this more similar to our current work environments?  Projects are worked on in teams across the US or the world; you may not even meet your collaborators on developing a program, software, policy, etc. While the article ends on a somewhat snide note regarding distraction, doesn’t online education make you face and learn the technological and critical thinking skills necessary for modern worklife?

Enough with my ranting; read for yourselves and let me know what you think.

Gmail: Friend or foe?

UPDATE: Well, having Google’s Calendar go down unexpectedly for the day is definitely one reason not to work with Google.

For awhile, libraries have been struggling with the relationship that is, that was, and that will be with Google.  The books project has been the major source of library controversy, but even now Gmail is facing scrutiny by larger government and academic institutions.  For example, UC Davis has decided to NOT use Gmail or the related Google applications over privacy and data security concerns.  This follows after the hold Yale placed on a similar transfer to Gmail as the school’s email platform while the City of Los Angeles did go full-throttle with the deal.    One of the main sticking points and concerns even for LA was the location of Google’s cloud servers for their email system.  Given the hack UC Berkeley experienced from China a year ago, location, location, location is becoming a prominent factor in Google’s functionality.  Even Google’s own problems with China and hackers haven’t gone unnoticed in the early part of 2010.  Using Gmail as a student, an instructor, and an employee has been quite easy as I an chat with my students within my email, schedule meetings with myself and other co-workers, and even track and graph course feedback without manual creation of graphs and data plotting.  As an undergrad, my school’s email system was hardly searchable and lacked integration with other resources, such as course pages, calendars, or documents.  Graduate school had a similar system which led me to rely on Gmail for collaborating on virtual group projects, papers, and presentations. Just as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer contains security vulnerabilities, I suspect Microsoft’s ability to provide a comparable and more secure email product.  Furthermore, logical access and usability design has not been Microsoft’s current strength in its product line (ahem, still having to explain how to use Microsoft Word 2007 in 2010, anyone?).  Even now, I am dabbling with Microsoft’s SharePoint and find myself endlessly frustrated with odd configurations; even for simple tasks like adding an anchor link to another part of the same webpage, I have to manually set the anchor in the HTML since there is no Rich Text method.  What have your experiences been with university email systems? Would Gmail be an improvement or a setback?

Here and Now: Community Colleges

Thanks, KJZZ (Arizona’s NPR) for the interesting discussion regarding the current state of community colleges, particularly changing demographics, moving to hybrid/online courses, swelling enrollments, and partnering trends between 2-year and 4-year institutions. Guests include Thomas Bailey of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teacher College, Steven Goldstein in the Maricopa Community College, and Maricopa Community College Chancellor Rufus Glasper. Enjoy the listen!
Here and Now: Community Colleges – KJZZ 91.5 FM – Your NPR News Station

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Databases, URLs, and Date of Access: Things I don’t cite with APA 6th ed.

With a new year comes a new citation guide to update. To contribute my part, I’m currently working on updating the APA handout we have for students to help navigate and present examples for proper citation formatting. Having used APA for my graduate studies, I thought this will be easy…except for some of the new changes regarding electronic resource.  Now, I keep imagining myself as Johnny Carson’s Karnak. Let me explain.

While MLA has streamlined their citations with getting rid of the URL, library name, and city of library requirements for database citations by simply providing the database name, APA now no longer requires any indication that the article is from a database. For many schools, this is less of an issue since the journals are cataloged in the OPAC separately so you can search the OPAC and determine the database from there. However, without a link resolver, you’ll need to borrow Johnny’s turban to divine which database has which journal for which coverage period. (Granted there is Ulrich’s Index, but who needs the extra work of logging in or finding a print Ulrich’s to confirm a journal’s aggregator?)

Next, for online journals, APA is now asking for DOIs (Document object identifier) instead of URLs. While I am quite familiar with the havoc changed URLs can create as pages are redesigned and reorganized, DOIs have yet to be a consistently applied standard for online articles. Although the presence of free DOI lookups like Cross Ref are available, the fact that I can struggle finding DOIs for articles listed via Google Scholar doesn’t give me much confidence that the students will find them.  For example, as a sample search in PubMed, I was typically able to find the DOI for those articles once I clicked through to the full text of the article.  However, in Google Scholar, the results are not exactly the same, as I found a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine article with a DOI nowhere to be found.  Other problems with the DOI standard is that journals have not found a standard way to identify the DOI number even when it does include the information.  For example, a 2009 article from NEJM provides the number but no label identifying it as the DOI. In JSTOR, the DOI is not listed as a number but instead as part of the stable URL; the JSTOR wiki provides the background information of the difference pieces of DOI, how to decipher the DOI from the persistent URL, etc.  So are journals going to go back and provide DOIs for those older articles or just the newer ones? Will they start identifying them as DOIs consistently across platforms?

And, finally, removing the date of access from electronic citations is another remorseful update to the APA citation format.  After the other two items, this packs less of a punch but, for long ranging research, I feel it is still important for understanding when the student was reviewing a site in comparison to when you receive their paper.  For example, for students citing a newspaper article found online and one aspect from the source paper ends up being retracted and updated on the site as such, I would have less issue with the student’s discussion and would probably take the date of access vs the date of revision issue into consideration when grading.

In short, as the web continues to evolve, so does APA’s methods of citing it.  Perhaps my general comments will prove to be a fleeting concern based on past models or perhaps they will pan out like the MacBook Air, an innovation ahead of its time but frustratingly short-sighted and problematic in current usage.  Dealing mostly with MLA citations, I’m curious what other people have been experiencing with students using the new APA citation format.  Have you had to create local or personal adjustments for your own citations? Or have the general 6th edition APA formats been a success?

Film followup

As expected, the library copyright giants have stepped in to review the debate at UCLA.  ACRL Insider provided a hook for the Library Copyright Alliance’s tantalizing and detailed analysis of the case.   Having wrestled with some of this before when I researched the copyright merits of Google’s Book Project in its 2006 form, I was happy to find the familiar words and insight from writers like Jonathan Band, a major copyright analysis figure in the library world.  One of the intriguing arguments is the issue of repurposing a movie in the course environment.  For those who’ve studied film, just watching the film is only part of the experience as written assignments, background materials, etc. are also additions to the movie experience.  Therefore, the full-stream experience repurposes the work and makes the activity covered under fair use.  Other interesting arguments are made around the second element of the TEACH Act.  Although the section 110(2) stipulates “limited portions” of a work, Section 110(1) provides access to in-person full movie viewing.  While I see the logic in the argument, I just wonder if the film companies will overcome the letter of the law and allow full-streaming.