Tag Archives: publishing

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.


Last Christmas, in the midst of grading an insanely large number of papers, I also had to deal with creating a birthday/Christmas list.  In my family, the art of surprise is replaced with the protocol of lists and guides to gift giving.  At the time, I wanted to have some subscriptions added to my iPad so I then could avoid the papery middle-man and find more awesome things like Wired’s Perfect Pitch example.   As part of some serendipitous digital exploration, I found that the Wired segment is not really an article but a user-controlled interactive multimedia component that allows the user to drag a finger across the iPad’s screen to control the motions of the skeleton figure, with key descriptions and definitions of each movement.  However, there was no simple solution or set of instructions on how I could ask for Wired as an eSubscription; in December, only individual copies could be purchased ($3.99 each) and downloaded.  On a side note, Amazon does have some magazines available for monthly subscriptions, but many are only for the Kindle device, not other eReaders with Kindle apps.  Besides, they also don’t have a gifting option for the magazine subscriptions.  So the cheaper, paper edition still continues to come.

Yesterday, Apple announced an eSubscription model. Here are the Cliffs notes:

  • Digital content sold within the iTunes app=30% cut for Apple
  • Digital content offers outside of the iTunes app have to also be available within the iTunes app
  • May ask to share your name, zip code, and email  info with providers
  • Auto-renew feature kicks off in case of subscription price increase
  • Subscription prices are non-refundable
  • Subscriptions charged no more than 24-hours prior to renewal
Elle magazine iPad subscription options
Elle magazine iPad subscription options

In a test case, I choose to evaluate just what some publishers are doing with this new opportunity.  As of right now, Elle magazine is offering a one-year print subscription for $8 and the print subscription provides access to the iTunes edition for free.  Through iTunes, a one-year iPad subscription is $18.99.  Granted, the iTunes subscription is better than the individual $3.99 per issue cost, but why would I get the iTunes edition when I can get print and iTunes for $10 less?  For those really interested in Elle (Wired has not announced a subscription rate yet), strike while the iron is hot because most likely this model will change, as I’m sure I’m not the only one noting this price difference loop hole.

Not to be left behind, Google has now also announced their One Pass system for managing and controlling digital content access such as newspapers and magazines.

  • One Pass – allows purchases of subscriptions, individual issues, and individual articles
  • Google takes 10%
  • Google shares end-user info (email, name, zip code) unless you explicitly opt-out
  • Allows vendors to sell subscriptions outside of One Pass

The vendor focus matches similar collaborations Google has taken with various side projects like FastFlip and Living Stories (Dec. 2009- Feb. 2010), so consumers will probably just start seeing this crop up as they browse through familiar online resources.  Instead of paying money directly to an online newspaper or magazine, you’ll take the Google side trip.  As of now, no clear examples are readily found online, since the main partnerships are either with German-language publications or don’t seem to obviously exist in the English-language publications.  For example, Popular Science appears to be in both the Apple and Google One Pass camp (according to Google’s blog post).  On the Popular Science site, the iPad edition is advertised everywhere, with a $14.99/year iPad subscription available, beating out the $19.99/year standard print subscription rate.  As for Google One Pass, I have honestly no idea how its connected and will be intrigued if this idea survives the Google new project curse or dies a premature death like Living Stories and Wave.

So, now armed with knowledge, go explore and report back your experiences with these new ePeriodicals.

Google’s eBookstore and Humanities 2.0

Google, the elephant in every room right now, is starting to see the rewards of its large-scale digitization project. First, the Google bookstore has opened up, fostering a potential rivalry with Amazon. From the minimal spot checking I’ve done of titles and price comparisons, Google and Amazon seem about evenly matched at about $9.99 a digital book. The main differences are the method of reading and accessing your works and what devices will or will not work with your new eBook. Amazon likes to have you download your work with the option of syncing information back to its cloud; Google wants you to read in the cloud and download only if necessary. Either way, both are designed for multi-platform reading so you can start your book on your iPad but then continue right where you left off in the book on your iPhone when stuck waiting at a doctor’s appointment, for example. In short, no more clunky carrying. However, the differences between the two remain in the platform accessibility. Google works with a lot of resources, but not some of the major players like Blackberries (WTF?!) and Amazon’s Kindle (less of shock here). Amazon’s establishment in the market and Google’s non-development of a hardware device still make Amazon the ubiquitous eBookstore. Further research TBDAG (To be done after grading).

The other, less flashy Google news is the growing use of the scanned Google books to develop what the New York Times calls Humanities 2.0 or the statistical analysis of work usage over time within works. Below is a sample of what you can do with such statistical analysis:

Having been a literature person, this trend actually isn’t that new. Pawing through concordances of Dante’s Commedia, such as Terrill Shepard’s, are still common in literary analysis these days. Through these methods, scholars have identified trends in word usage, such as having Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso all end with the word stelle (the Italian plural for stars). What a lovely way to end a poem about a religious epic? (And what a lovely name for a girl…). However, for works that have not be read millions of times after seven centuries, Google’s ability to digitize both major and minor works from the Victorian age and allow similar linguistic analysis has a vast potential with revolutionizing the world of literary research. However, I think the “Handle with Care” concept is also useful to make sure we don’t lose the art of literary analysis and criticism since statistics are only part of accessing a culture, a time, and a psyche of a character and author.   I’m intrigued to see how this vast plethora of information will continue to transform literature and what we think of as research today. What are your thoughts?  Is all of this a boon or a bust?

11/14/10 Sunday reading

As part of my random smattering of eclectic news, here’s what I’ve found on this Sunday morning…..

1) Newsflash! Latinos now make up over 50% of students enrolled in California!

General response, duh….

As a native southern Californian and even as a migrant to the north of the state, I can only say that I am NOT surprised by this finding, as it was an inevitable reality.  Exponential growth, continuous migration, and generations continuing to settle here is no new information.  However, the article frames the statistic nicely in the political/educational debate of what the future of California will be.  Bilingual education for whites as well as Latinos?  Parental political involvement in these schools to increase or will the disenfranchised parents remain silent on the educational decisions for their American citizen children?

2) Facebook v Google

In one of Wired’s themes for the week, they’ve begun to analyze the new potential face-off between Facebook and Google.  With rumors of some sort of Facebook email swirl and the competition for ads heats up, the small skirmishes between Microsoft and Yahoo! now seem small contests for Google.

3) The US Budget puzzle

Although this is not really an article to read, I thought the NY Times Budget Puzzle is a great interactive way for people to learn about the US budget and evaluate how funds are spent and estimate how you would reduce spending.  If I was a government teacher, I would SO use this as part of my class project.  I may still make an argument for it my own course yet…..

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.

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?


Although I started using Twitter almost a year ago now (wow, has time flown by), this week seems the universe seems to want me to move beyond my current, occasional playing with the social media resource to learn more about the power that has led this VC-run idea to become the phenomenon that it is.  As part of a new routine, I’m making more time to walk, and hence, I need more audiobooks to consume as part of the needed distraction away from such said exercise.  In Joel Comm’s Twitter Power, I’ve been able to have a well-crafted review of the various other social media sites, hear how they compare and contrast with Twitter, and look forward to hearing more about his advice and techniques for making Twitter work for me.  While the some of the advice thus far (I’m about 1.5 hours out of an almost 6.5 hour audiobook) is a bit of the tediously obvious (make sure you choose the right username so people can find you; make sure to link your website to your Twitter profile, etc.), his additional advice as to how to add multiple websites to your profile gives me hope that I’ll actually learn something from the book.  The book does have a sales/advertising bent, but I figure the methods will still apply to the general outreach my library may need to promote programs, events, and new resources.

On another note, my ProjectMuse Twitter feed helped me stumble upon a Society for Scholarly Publishing blog entry regarding the relationship between Twitter and scholarly communication. For the academics among us, Clarke’s concise discussion does an excellent job providing the short hand notes to the Twitter discussion as well as indicating Twitter’s value as a general social media tool apart from others like Facebook.  Furthermore, he ties the topic back into the idea of scholarly communication today.  To say the least, I highly recommend perusing this entry for even the avid librarian Twitter user.

Now, in relation to all of these, what have you, in the nebulous fog of the blogosphere, discovered in your Twitter-riffic adventures?

Research impact factors – How can libraries get in on this?

While browsing my Twitter feed, I stumbled across the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the latest tool for analyzing the impact of a researchers’ publication in a discipline.  Instantaneous feedback from programs like Google Analytics has helped bloggers, website creators, and librarians increase their understanding of who, where, and when their sites are being accessed and read.  Among the journal publishers, Elsevier is now coming to the impact analysis part with their SciVal Spotlight tool.  In contrast to other analyzers like Google Scholar, Reuters Thomson’s citation indices, and Springer’s AuthorMapper (it’s free!), Elsevier attempts to review and categorize articles (instead of journals) into one of their 80,000 clusters, allowing for “a much more precise picture of influential work in emerging fields.”  In conjunction to the bibliometric analyzer, Elsevier also looks to be creating a SciVal Funding database to connect researchers to funding opportunities.

Now, as libraries face budget cuts and collection development demands, tools like these could potentially be of great value in researching and ranking resources of interest and value for our institutions.  Our researchers would also benefit from access to this resource to understand other, related research in the field.  However, this all assumes a level of accuracy in the cataloging of these articles.

Sadly, I feel somewhat disappointed in the premature results, as the same problems that face the keyword indexing of journals in databases remains anything but precise and consistent, continues in the citation indexer.  While I don’t have access to Elsevier’s edition, I did test some searches in Springer’s AuthorMapper.

Image of AuthorMapper webpage, including search bar and Google maps mashup with location of authors
Image of AuthorMapper webpage, including search bar and Google maps mashup with location of authors

Although a variety of subjects are listed below for browsing, I chose to conduct my own topic search on Dante. What I found was that most of my results were not based on the author Dante Alighieri of the Commedia, but others, particularly in the sciences, that had Dante somewhere in their name and primarily were based in South America.

Map and list of keywords retrieved for "Dante" search results in AuthorMapper
Map and list of keywords retrieved for "Dante" search results in AuthorMapper

Like any good librarian, I decided perhaps the fault was my own for not refining my search phrase enough.  So, using his full name Dante Alighieri, I was able to find many more results related to the specific Dante I was after (yes, the results under Mineralogy do related to Dante Alighieri).  However, upon reviewing the various facets, I found that while 18 articles were tagged as Comparative Literature and Linguistics, 12 articles were still related to Medicine and Public Health.  While the concepts of medieval science do arise throughout Dante’s writing, 12 seems a bit excessive.  Upon reviewing the journals list, Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Chirugie (Langenbeck’s Archives of Surgery) is the 4th most popular journal to appear in the list!

Google Maps mashup and keywords listing for AuthorMapper results for Dante Alighieri
Google Maps mashup and keywords listing for AuthorMapper results for Dante Alighieri

These inaccuracies are evidence to just some of the problems bibliometric analyzers have in reviewing research, let alone the issues of citation inflation by colleagues and friends.  Even misspelling Dante’s name as Dante Aligheri still provides another single search results that falls outside of its proper retrieval space.

So, in short, while these tools may be helpful, like the Internet, information literacy will be key in deciphering these results as validity is not guaranteed.