Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, December 27, 2007
  Thomson's Rebuttal
Recently, there was a very strong editorial in the Journal of Cell Biology (doi: 10.1083/jcb.200711140) that made some claims against Thomson Scientific's citation products: JCR and Web of Science. Thomson came out with a point by point rebuttal and explanation (http://scientific.thomson.com/citationimpactforum/8427045/).

I think this is a very healthy discussion. Many people would like there to be one perfectly clean, justifiable number we can use to rank people, journals, articles, institutions, etc. Wouldn't it be easier to allocate funding if you could sum a person's history and potential up with a single number or rank order? But we know that this isn't how the world works - it's not how people work (either individually or socially), nor is it how we should judge people. There are scientifically valid things you can do with citations to map research, look at connections between {articles, journals, people, institutions, countries, patents}, and look at relative citedness of articles or author's work or journals... but you can't sum up a person, institution, journal, etc., with a single number.

This citation analysis stuff is really hard to get your mind around and it seems so simple and obvious. Statements made recently in ACM publications, JASIST, ArXiv, on library listservs, and elsewhere show profound misunderstandings of how citations work, how Thomson products work now, and how they were originally designed (including trade-offs thoughtfully made). Many of these statements attribute malice or incompetence where a more pragmatic approach could be useful.

I think anyone who's played with citation analysis has been frustrated with data quality problems. In my tiny bit of experience, WoS data are way, way, way more clean than anything else, but they, too, are dirty. It turns out that people make mistakes, that things are cited incorrectly, that there are inefficiencies in the system. Garfield and de Solla Price and many others following them have clearly explained why certain choices were made and what the impact would be. Some of these choices have led to a western bias in WoS. Not terribly important until recently (next 5-10 years this will become a deal breaker). Some of these choices have also made WoS inadequate for CS and many areas of engineering in which conference papers are as important as journal articles.

I would recommend anyone who has a serious interest in this stuff subscribe to the SIGMETRICS mailing list. Also, for more on this particular issue, see: Leydesdorff, L. (in press) Caveats for the use of citation indicators in research and journal evaluations. Journal of the American Society for Information Science. DOI: 10.1002/asi.20743

Update: Looks like the Leydesdorff article has a real citation: Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Volume 59, Issue 2 (p 278-287) . It really is a must read for people remotely interested in science policy, citation analysis, research evaluation...
  Libraries and Collections Agencies - it's about Public Accountability
So there's an opinion piece in the NY Times that superficially seems reasonable, but is really pretty far off.

Throwing the Book at Them
[Opinion]. Published: December 27, 2007

I might not be remembering the details correctly, but from what I know, public libraries at least in my state are county agencies -- part of the county government. Some change in law for accounting in municipalities happened a few years ago that made the overdue items show up on county books as being debts. It was looking like there were $3 million in uncollected debts and these were going against the county's bottom line.

Even if I'm remembering that wrong, the thing is that we expect our government agencies to be accountable and to be responsible with our tax dollars. The point of a library is for the community to make use of the materials. If one person abuses the system, then others in the community lose out. If the library spends public tax dollars on materials, and then lets individuals remove them from public use then the library looks like it's wasting taxpayer money.

When libraries hire collections agencies, there are a couple of agencies that have library specific programs. The letters are seriously toned down, and the patron has every chance to make it right. Frequently, all sorts of accommodations can be made to help the person out -- particularly before it goes to collections. Unfortunately, there are a few bad eggs (the woman who checked out and sold all the books, CDs, and videos on her record, then did the same for each of her children's records).

In any case, be considerate and return the books if they are recalled or when you are done with them. Take care of the books as if they were your own.
Friday, December 21, 2007
  Implications of newer models of popularization of science for science library collection development
When we look at science communication - communication about science or by scientists - we normally divide that into communication among scientists (scholarly communication) and communication to non-scientists (variously: popular communication of science, popularization, or the French - vulgarization). Within scholarly communication we have formal scholarly communication (journal articles, books, textbooks, etc.) and informal scholarly communication (sometimes conference papers, but basically any communication among scientists besides what's in formal - see my review). The formal/informal bit was really solidified in the Garvey and Griffith models [e.g., 1].

The "dominant model" of popularization developed over the 20th century (maybe starting in the 19th), but it has become obvious from SSS research that it no longer adequately models reality, if it ever did [2,3, 4]. Some of the proponents of the dominant model are the scientists themselves. The dominant models makes some very large assumptions. Namely:
But we understand now from Paul's study [4] and others cited by her that:

About Libraries
Academic and Research libraries in the sciences (in my experience) collect "popular works" as extra or entertainment reading. These are the first to go because they are seen as extra or not real science. When libraries collect these, they may be shelved in a special place for popular books, and not in with the subject area. Yet, these works can spark creativity and connections for the scientists. In a place with applied scientists who have their heads down in their work, these may serve the very important purpose of connecting the scientists to new relevant research.

But they have to be the right popularizations. There exist book reviews written by scientists of popular science books. How do librarians tell if this popularization is more on the sciencey end of the continuum? Probably from reviews in science magazines and journals as well as by the publisher. Maybe by browsing within the pages? Looking at the footnotes and citations. Hey, how about looking in the science blogosphere (hm, oh that's another post there...)!

Here's my point: research science libraries should make more effort to collect and market popular science materials. These materials should be an important part of the service we do -- plus they're cheap. Compare $25 for a popular book and minimum $125 for a specialized science book (yep, really).

Notes (in some strange half apa half other format):

[1] Garvey, W. D., & Griffith, B. C. (1967). Scientific communication as a social system. Science, 157(3792), 1011-1016.

[2] Whitley, R. (1985). Knowledge producers and knowledge acquirers: Popularisation as a relation between scientific fields and their publics. In T. Shinn, & R. Whitley (Eds.), Expository science: Forms and functions of popularisation (pp. 3-28). Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Pub. Co.

[3] Hilgartner, S. (1990). The dominant view of popularization: Conceptual problems, political uses. Social Studies of Science, 20(3), 519-539. (or actually probably Whitley in 1985, but I don't have e- access to this to check it)

[4] Paul, D. (2004). Spreading chaos: The role of popularizations in the diffusion of scientific ideas. Written Communication, 21(1), 32-68. DOI:10.1177/0741088303261035

[5] Myers, G. (2003). Discourse studies of scientific popularization: Questioning the boundaries. Discourse Studies, 5(2), 265-279. DOI:10.1177/1461445603005002006

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 15, 2007
  I've created a monster
I was bugging my husband to start a blog for like 3 years and now look at him go! He's such a trip. I've got him looking at what searches lead to his blog, too :)

His third post even picked a fight with someone on ZDnet.

In case you're curious: Silverback Garage.
Friday, December 14, 2007
  My name in lights...
Well lights of the lcd (why do I always have ellipsis or ellipses? in my titles...)

Pikas, C. K. (2007). Communication is the key skill for reference librarians. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 2(4), Retrieved 12/14/2007 from http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/650/0

So this was part of a "classics" section. Other classics review: Kuhlthau's ISP, the first RCT in librarianship, one from Urquhart, one from Line (his stuff is always good reading), and one about hospital libraries.

Wow, lots of good stuff in this issue. The TOC is at: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/issue/view/50/showToc

Oh hey, before I post: this is basically a peer-reviewed (very thoroughly, thank you!) critical summary of a research article. The purpose of the journal is clear in its title: to move what's learned in LIS research to practice.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
  So Honored
I truly believe in and totally support the Carnival of the Information Sciences. Sorry to have not pointed to one for quite a while and not actually hosted one for a really long time.

But I am very honored that my post On Weeding was picked as one of the best for the year!

This is really a fabulous list so I highly recommend it.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
  Blogger's ethics revisited
Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research Commentary on: Kuhn, M. (2007). Interactivity and prioritizing the human: A code of blogging ethics. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 22(1), 18-36. DOI:10.1080/08900520701315244

I attended an early BloggerCon and have been blogging for quite a while, but I've never had any desire to be a citizen journalist. Blogging ethics commonly cited are precisely for getting your voice heard in the political or journalistic sphere (e.g., Blood, 2002)-- not a goal of most bloggers, I would say.
This article points out that previous efforts have omitted many other functions of blogs, including one to one communication and small group formation (p. 20).

LIS bloggers, science bloggers, and other bloggers have had to craft their personal ethics from trial and error to a certain extent, or through norms of behavior in other communication media. Indeed, one could argue that blogs are merely a format so that any idea of a common code of ethics is misguided and that ethics based on function, place in the information ecosystem, and purpose are appropriate.

The author's purpose in this article is to "suggest a broader code of blogging ethics that recognizes interactivity and maintains a human element in CMC as core values. It is based on a combination of values and duties that have emerged from new communication technology ethics scholarship and an exploratory survey of bloggers" (p. 21). As the blogosphere becomes more crowded, even bloggers with a more narrow focus and targeted audience will be tempted to perhaps do some sketchy things to get noticed.

The author develops some requirements for a code of ethics based on recent scholarship in CMC:
Research methods: the author created a "survey blog" where he received comments on how practicing bloggers view ethics. He received 114 comments from 28 bloggers -- whoa! Very small sample for a survey. The survey was open in December 2004 and January 2005. Questions came from Rawls (views of stakeholders), Ross (values), and Kant (are there certain things bloggers must always do to be good bloggers).

My take: these seem like really good questions, and ones that are worth answering, but the sample size is too small (unjustifiably). The scope should have been narrowed (what do x-type of bloggers think about...?) and/or the number of responses should have been in the thousands -- doing this on a blog must have seemed attractive, but was not appropriate to be able to gather the necessary data and then use it for later analysis. Otherwise, a qualitative study with this many participants (purposively selected), but who were given the opportunity to reflect on and provide more interesting information on ethics could be very informative.

Additionally, inadequate information is given on analysis methods used (oh, and no mention of human subjects protection?). In fact, it appears that the analysis was simply to count responses.

In a nutshell: an interesting idea, with decent grounding in the literature, but with inadequate execution.

Other Works Cited:
Blood, R. (2002). The weblog handbook practical advice on creating and maintaining your blog. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
  One pretty successful way to record telephone interviews
(whew. sorry to put that in there, but the first thing anyone says is, wow, you could get arrested for that in your state... anyway)

I'm inordinately proud of how I figured this out on my own with no guidance, a lot of research, some gumption with dealing with a good ole' boy at Radio Shack, and some trial and error. Hence, you get to read, and hopefully someday use this.

In my current research project, the second phase of data collection is qualitative interviews. Great, except for none of my participants are local, in fact, I had originally intended to talk to some folks overseas but that became way way too complicated (see disclaimer at top). So, the original way to do this was to use an old fashioned phone with a handset and then this suction cup thingy OR to put a tap in either the line from the phone to the handset or from the wall to the phone (like you used to put an old modem in... oh gosh, who will know that analogy?). There are also some very, very expensive machines to do this -- and those are important for call centers and the like where there's a volume.

My limitations:
1) All of these folks were long distance and I have no funding for this, it's out of my pocket
2) People are in a few different time zones and are really super busy, so I wanted to make sure that we did this *whenever* was convenient to them. This means that they could catch me at or around my office at school, at or around my house, or at or around work.
3) Skype is banned at work.
4) Work phone is VOIP fancy digitalness.

What I wanted to have:
1) free or very low cost phone calls
2) no limitation to where I was
3) double/dual recording - audiotape for security and computer for ease of transcription.

My resources:
1) a laptop
2) admin rights to my work computer (stop that evil laughing)
3) a cell phone with beaucoup extra minutes
4) I'm somewhat techie, very aggressive, and tenacious
5) a little bit of money

So after doing some research here's what I did:
1) got the Olympus TP7 (the very same that another blogger found before me, if only I had searched)
So it is monaural, and it goes in your ear, and then you hold the phone up to your ear and you talk. So you can use *any* phone! Also, it comes with some adapters: different sizes and monaural to stereo (the reason for this will be come clear). And some different ear thingies -- a person doing a review said this was if they get yucky, but no, it's actually that they are different sizes and while my MP3 earphones seriously hurt my ears, the small size thingy fits nicely. (who knew I had small ears?)
If you go to buy this at Radio Shack, it might not be with the other cables and such. It comes in a little blue and black box where everything else is in a bag stapled to a card on a hook.

2) right, so now I've got a monaural signal going one place, but I actually want two identical signals so I can record both places at once - my computer and my taperecorder. This is where the stereo adapter comes in. Note: the signal is only ever mono, all this does is split it. Note the one ring on the mono plug, and the two rings on the stereo. This basically splits the signal in to two identical ones. There will be some attenuation for each step of this connection, but I found it to not be enough to cause a problem as the pickup is pretty decent.
3) so now I needed what I though was simple: a splitter. But the only thing I could find right away was two females in to a male out - like for two people to listen to an mp3 player. If you look very, very carefully in Radio Shack, there is something that is supposed to be for planes (?!?). It is a stereo in, and two monaural out -- perfect. It was very hard to find, and I even drew the good ole boy a picture of what I wanted .. sigh. I wish I could put my hands on the part number for you but here's a picture:

So out of the phone, into the tp7, to the mono-stereo adapter, to the splitter, to the computer and the taperecorder:
4) On the computer I have Audacity. It is very important to test your incoming sound levels using *each* phone you will use. My dad helped (male with deep voice) and I also called our new local public radio station's news line (and promptly deleted each of these!).
5) I got the person on the phone at the set time, asked them if it was still a good time, confirmed permission to record, and then started the computer and the taperecorder.

6) When done, I popped the tabs out of the tape and carefully locked it away (as per protection of participants confidentiality). I saved the audacity project, then produced it as a wav. I imported it into Express Scribe and transcribed (more on that for another post maybe).

As for making the call:
I sometimes used my cell phone, I sometimes did end up using my work phone, and I was ready to use Skype at home, but didn't have the need to.

Another handy tip:
If you are speaking with a soft spoken (esp. female) type, then you can use the compressor function in Audacity which really does help.

Note: my local (Burtonsville) Radio Shack is very, very cool and helpful -- this was the one in College Park (go figure, they should have more women engineers and ham radio operators down there... maybe they just all avoid the store?). I had to do this in person, because I didn't have the language for what I needed so I couldn't search. How about that.

Update 1/27/08: I found the labeling for the splitter (1 female stereo to 2 male mono, 1/8") RadioShack Goldseries 42-2495 Aircraft Y-Adapter Cable.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
  Hey cool, picture chosen for schmap
So apparently Schmap is a set of travel guides that take Yahoo maps and Flickr pictures and mash them up. My picture of the Chamberlain Observatory was selected for the new Denver travel guide.

These things are pretty nifty. And this is another reason to use a creative commons license :)
Sunday, December 02, 2007
  Musings on categories...
I have to narrow my studies somehow, and one way has been to not study categories and to spend as little time as possible on knowledge representation (maybe not a good idea but there you have it). But it's not easy, as these topics keep jumping out in my way like deer in mating season (ok, so you won't get that unless you've driven around here and have had to dodge Bambi on every wooded road).

This topic clearly belongs to philosophy, psychology, sociology (including SSS) and then there's also things like post-colonial studies and feminist studies and... other places where they look more closely at how people and cultural items are put into bins. (keep in mind that I really know nothing of this and have not studied it)

So you have some sort of Kantian or objectivist or external a priori deal where the categories can be a priori and well, objective. Natural categories that are properties of the thing, not having to do with the observer.

Then you have as DS calls it, an organism centered view. Embodied cognition vs symbolic representation (copied directly from course notes). From psychology, people have schema or internal knowledge representations and they try to match new experiences into their existing schema. The nature of the person doing the thinking impacts the categories.

So what jumped out to me just this week was the finitism version. If not directly part of constructivism, it's at least discussed in the same papers. Jan Golinski's review [*] has been particularly helpful in clarifying a bunch of stuff from SSK. Golinski quotes Barnes "finitism denies that inherent properties or meanings attach to concepts and determine their future correct applications; and consequently it denies that truth and falsity are inherent properties of statements" (p.16). (of course this definition is not helpful for building library catalogs or thesaurii!). The sort of constructivist thing is that meaning is constructed through social interaction.

Ah, I'm throwing in the towel on this.. I just wanted to write something before moving to a different subject.

Update: Best if I leave philosophers' names out of this (one reason I didn't mention Wittgenstein in the basis for finitism) - Thanks Steven for the help - btw which Steven are you?

[*] Golinski, J. (1998). Making natural knowledge: Constructivism and the history of science. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 1)

Powered by Blogger

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.

Site Feed (ATOM)

Add to My Yahoo!

Creative Commons License
Christina's LIS Rant by Christina K. Pikas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
Most Recent Posts
-- Moved to Scientopia
-- I've been assimilated!
-- Hey science librarians...
-- Can we design *a* community for *scientists*
-- Comps readings this week
-- How would you design a collaboration community for...
-- Why ghostwriting, ghost management, and fake journ...
-- Should authors attest that they did a minimal lit ...
-- Comps preparations
-- How should advertising work in online journals?
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 / 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 / 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 / 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 / 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 / 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 / 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 / 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 / 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 / 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 / 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 / 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 / 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 / 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 / 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 / 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 /

Some of what I'm scanning

Locations of visitors to this page

Search this site

(google api)
How this works

Where am I?

N 39 W 76