Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, November 30, 2007
What publisher in their right mind would redesign their website and break every single link without a re-direct and without letting anyone know?

University of Chicago Press.

Yes, thank you for your consideration. I needed to redo all of our links this afternoon instead of doing other work I had planned.

(as a side note, it's much prettier now and more functional, but really...)

UPDATE: they are currently working to make the old URLs resolve (17:00 EST)
Monday, November 26, 2007
  Downloadable OA Calendar
Alma Swan did this beautiful calendar for 2008 http://www.keyperspectives.co.uk/aboutus/Being_creative/OA_calendar_2008.pdf
Sunday, November 25, 2007
  Nice summary on the leaky pipeline in science
I'm posting this here because I think it's pretty well done and because I want to be able to find it later. This is a large ppt file was maybe given at AAPT (Am. Assoc. Physics Teachers?) in January 06.
Friday, November 23, 2007
  IM=Interruption Management?
Garrett, R. K., & Danziger, J. N. (2007). IM=Interruption management? Instant messaging and disruption in the workplace. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 2. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/garrett.html


Some scholars worry that Instant Messaging (IM), by virtue of the ease with which users can initiate and participate in online conversations, contributes to an increase in task interruption. Others argue that workers use IM strategically, employing it in ways that reduce interruption. This article examines the relationship between IM and interruption, using data collected via a (U.S.) national telephone survey of full-time workers who regularly use computers (N=912). Analysis of these data indicates that IM use has no influence on overall levels of work communication. However, people who utilize IM at work report being interrupted less frequently than non-users, and they engage in more frequent computer-mediated communication than non-users, including both work-related and personal communication. These results are consistent with claims that employees use IM in ways that help them to manage interruption, such as quickly obtaining task-relevant information and negotiating conversational availability.

HA! (again...)

Interesting things here:
"the distributions of IM users' occupational classifications, education levels, gender, and age are statistically indistinguishable from respondents who do not use IM during work (based on Chi-square statistics)."

Essentially: the participants communicate a lot; IM is probably taking the place of *more* disruptive media such as phone, in person, e-mail; IM allows people to manage interruptions by not responding, requesting to delay conversation (busy - can I get back to you?), or by responding very tersely; not a disruption if you can get a quick answer to allow you to complete ongoing work.

(as an added plus: we've just covered chi-squared in my stats class so this was a nice example of how to use it)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
  Learning "studying up"...
Qualitative research came to LIS late - in the early to mid 1980s with works by Raya Fidel and others. We know it finally "arrived" in the early 1990s with the publication of a reference book by Mellon (1990) and reviews by Fidel (1993) and Bradley (1993). This was part of a larger effort to bring anthropological methods home. From the tradition of going off to a small rural, isolated world to observe a very different way of life, there was a move to prolonged engagement, being a participant-observer, staying close to home (or even autoethnography!). When this happens, social worlds overlap, the participants have access (intellectual and otherwise) to the work product, and the power issues change (Forsythe, 1999).

Ellis (1999), in her fieldwork in an isolated Maryland fishing town, described how participants discussed some very private matters. She changed names and such, but when a local professor brought her work back to the participants and read to them aloud, they were easily able to figure out who said what and they were hurt. Some felt that printing these things was a breach of trust. It's a lesson in sensitivity and thoughtfulness but it was also from a very different time and place. She wrote thinking that her participants would never read her work. In traditional ethnographic methods there's a real power relationship and one has to be careful to observe this and protect the participants; that is, the ethnographer is in the power position through place in society, education, and ability to communicate with a broader audience.

When we study adults in LIS and STS, in particular professionals such as scientists, engineers, lawyers, and doctors, the power roles are reversed. In fact, the participants may have very real power over the ethnographer (e.g., paying her salary). Participants may have a louder voice than the researcher. The participants read, understand and sometimes contest the work product (Forsythe, 1999). This is indeed factored in when we talk about member checks for internal validity (see Guba, 1981, as well as Kvale's communicative validity). Laura Nader coined the term "studying up" to describe this (cited in Forsythe, 1999).

As Forsythe (1999) mentions, we're still sort of taught the traditional narrative of qualitative research. In my own experience, some IRBs do not differentiate in their reviews the relative power positions of the researchers and the participants. In two of my projects the participants specifically wanted their name and workplace's name attached to their quotes - but I felt uncomfortable with this because of the promises I had made to the IRB. (In the IRB's defense, I think the papers say that you can use the name if the participants specifically agree to it, but I'm still a little hazy on this).

In a more trivial way, how do you thank someone when you could never possibly afford to pay for an hour of their time? So when you give a college student $10 for an hour in the lab, that's one thing. If you are studying, say, a lawyer who gets $500 an hour... and it's just weird for a student to give a professor money. I resolved this by donating to a charity in the participant's name for one project and never resolved this in two other cases (sorry!).

I'm still mulling this over so I might re-visit this topic. I really enjoyed Forsythe's article, and so I'll look for more along the same lines.

Bradley, J. (1993). Methodological issues and practices in qualitative research. Library Quarterly, 63(4), 431.

Ellis, C. (1995). Emotional and ethical quagmires in returning to the field. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 24(1), 68.

Fidel, R. (1993). Qualitative methods in information retrieval research. Library & Information Science Research, 15(3), 219-247.

Forsythe, D. E. (1999). Ethics and politics of studying up in technoscience. Anthropology of Work Review, 20(1), 6-11. DOI: 10.1525/awr.1999.20.1.6

Guba, E. G. (1981). ERIC/ECTJ annual review paper: Criteria for assessing the trustworthiness of naturalistic inquiries. Educational Communication and Technology: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Development, 29(2), 75-91.

Kvale, S. (1995). The social construction of validity. Qualitative Inquiry, 1(1), 19-40.

Mellon, C. A. (1990). Naturalistic inquiry for library science : Methods and applications for research, evaluation, and teaching. New York: Greenwood Press.


Saturday, November 17, 2007
  Commentary on: The persistence of behavior and form in the organization of personal information
Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research This post is a review and commentary on: Barreau, D. (in press). The persistence of behavior and form in the organization of personal information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1002/asi.20752

Goal: Barreau re-visits her 1993 study (published in 1995) in which she interviewed seven managers to determine how they manage electronic documents. In particular, in her 1995 study, her goal was to examine how Kwasnik's (1991) dimensions of organization of print materials translated into the electronic domain. In this study, her goal is to learn what has changed in the more than ten years and what impact new technologies have had.

Methods: Her sample consists of 4 of the 7 managers interviewed in her earlier study. She asked the participants broad questions on what personal information they have in their office, how they got it, how they organize it, and how they find things in it. She also asked what changes they would like to see in the technology.

The responses were coded using Kwasnik's dimensions. No information is provided on how the interviews were conducted and how the coding was actually performed. There are mentions of transcripts and notes, however. A sample of the statements were "double-coded" and an intercoder reliability check was done. (I almost missed this bit because the html is a bit goofy to read)

Results: I will just pull out a few interesting points here.
Changes they would like to see: synchronized single sign on

Conclusions: Many things remained the same. The way the managers name files, and use catch-all directories were two things in particular. Some things that have changed include the extension of the personal space to include bookmarked things from the web and the sheer number of different systems required to do the job. New dimensions are suggested to update Kwasnik's listing.

Commentary: My immediate reaction to this article was very positive -- mostly perhaps because it resonates with my own findings (Pikas, 2007). More information on methods is required to adequately judge the validity and transferability of this work.

She makes the point that corporations need to do better to back up user's work. This is something that also came out in my study. It could be that the corporations *are* doing a good job of backing information up but are not *communicating* well enough so that users trust the backups.

She also makes the point that organizations need to do better with e-mail. First, for records management purposes, they should discourage the retention of older e-mails. I strongly, strongly disagree with this. Much valuable information is included in e-mails - only in e-mails - and there should not be an arbitrary retention policy requiring their deletion if the user finds them useful (yes, I do know about e-discovery, but if you're not doing anything wrong- I guess I'm naive). Second, she states that organizations should do something about advertising e-mails received (ok, this is fine), about broader distribution lists than are required for the job (ok, I was getting e-mails in Maryland once for things lost and found in the Philadelphia office- so this is clearly a management issue), and about too many interruptions. I disagree about the interruptions truly being a something that the organization as a whole can/should fix through rule making. This article speaks to me that more training is required on the effective use of e-mail and IM. Perhaps the users should employ a do not disturb message on IM and log out of e-mail if they are working on an intensive task.

This is my first use of the BPR3 logo so I would be happy to take comments on that (or complaints if I'm not doing it right!)

Barreau, D.K. (1995). Context as a factor in personal information management systems. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology , 46(5), 327-339. DOI:10.1002/(SICI)1097-4571(199506)46:5<327::aid-asi4>3.0.CO;2-C

Kwasnik, B. H. (1991). The importance of factors that are not document attributes in the organization of personal documents. Journal of Documentation, 47(4), 389-398.

Pikas, C. K. (2007). Personal information management strategies and tactics used by senior engineers. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Milwaukee, WI , 44 paper 14. (This will be made available open access 90 days after the conference)


Friday, November 09, 2007
  I'm not AL, either
well, I am frequently annoyed and I am definitely a librarian and I use blogger... :)
but I am not *the* annoyed librarian (nor do I confess )
  Howard County Libraries Lead the Way
It made the front page of a local newspaper, too. I live in the next county south, but this is the county where mpow is. They have been using OSS for other functions for a couple of years, but now they're going to Koha. Very cool.

I hope my local public library will consider this route when they look to upgrade in the near future.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
  Guess I'm a cognitivist, but I'm ok with that
Mark Lindner and I have some really strange disagreements. Finally at ASIST he was like: that's so cognitivist (or something like that). Funny. So it turns out that this might explain a lot of our disconnects; that is, his library school is from the phenomenological or philosophical version of library science where mine is more from the cognitive world. We talk about mental models and schema and things like that where Mark (and his school, perhaps) talks prescriptively about how we can know, epistemology, and ontology -- as in meaning, not as in an information representation system. We learned cataloging as providing access for the user (what will help the people who could use this book find it); he talks about ... well read his blog :)


So today I attended a really cool research presentation at mpow by an information studies doctoral student who is a cognitive psychologist by training (I won't blow her cover completely by linking to her but she's welcome to comment here if she finds this). She presented at ASIST, too, but I didn't get a chance to meet her so it was very convenient to have her come speak at a 20 second walk from my desk :) She's looking at how people in groups label or tag things for themselves to find later or for other people to find later. She's looking at different variations on common ground and what impact that has. Another thing that really points out her psychology background is that fact that she's actually running experiments! No kidding. So that ought to be a different take on things from the normal ASIST route. I'm very much looking forward to reading her dissertation -- in a year or so...
Friday, November 02, 2007
  New article on corporate blogs came in the feeds...
BlogCentral: The role of internal blogs at work
Engineering Village

Abstract: This paper describes a preliminary investigation into an internal corporate blogging community called BlogCentral. We conducted semi-structured interviews with fourteen active bloggers to investigate the role of blogging and its effects on work processes. Our findings suggest that BlogCentral facilitates access to tacit knowledge and resources vetted by experts, and, most importantly, contributes to the emergence of collaboration across a broad range of communities within the enterprise.



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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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