Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, December 29, 2006
  January 2007 issue of Physics World
Some good stuff here:

January 2007

A revolution in bits
Why the Web is changing physics publishing

The open-access debate
The pros and cons of free-to-read papers

Talking physics in the social Web
Blogs, wikis and social tagging

Peer review steps out of the shadows
How the Web can open up peer review

The rise and rise of citation analysis
Using the Web to quantify scientific output


Brave new Web
Welcome to the publishing revolution


Blogging for physics
Why I like to blog (by Sean Carroll)


All shook up
The strange life of Charles Richter
Secret history
Lifting the veil on female physicists
Blog life: Uncertain Principles
Our new column on blogs

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Thursday, December 21, 2006
  Gave new AskX a quick try
My standard search to test a system is "lidar" but this was just plain cute. I did make the front page, but look at the cute little guys who share my name :)

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Monday, December 18, 2006
  Quick Post: New ARIST is fabulous
(Annual Review of Information Science and Technology. Blaise Cronin, Editor. Medford, NJ: Information Today) And fascinating actually, and really quite heavy. Much thicker than the others. My library is going to buy our very own, but now I have the medical library's copy.

On my must-read list:
Diane H. Sonnenwald
Göteborg University & University College of Borås, Sweden
Scientific Collaboration (how could I not?)

Jeppe Nicolaisen
Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark
Citation Analysis (I've only browsed)

William Jones
University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Personal Information Management (already read the pre-print, now checking for differences)

Katy Börner, Soma Sanyal, and Alessandro Vespignani
Network Science
Indiana University, Bloomington, USA (review of what I know of SNA plus a lot we didn't get to in my class)

Ones I'll try to get to:
Christina Courtright
Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
Context in Information Behavior Research

Greg Downey
University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA
Human Geography and Information Studies

All the rest (except the history, to be honest) I'd also like to read but realistically won't.
  Social constructivist theory of...science?
Earlier, I was trying to wrap my arms around social constructionist theory in communications (without sufficient background or time to do the research...) so I know a tiny bit about that.

Then, I borrowed the new 2007 ARIST (which {got} its own post) and I was flipping through and caught a discussion in the article on citation analysis by Nicolaisen on the "social constructivist theory of citing." He {reports that social constructivists, elsewhere labeled scientific constructivists, such as Barry Barnes, David Bloor, Michel Callon, Harry Collins, Karin Knorr Cetina, Bruno Latour, and Steve Woolgar,}... "believe that scientific closure is the outcome of a negotiation process in which one party convinces the other by mere persuasion." -- this seems a bit strong to me but I know some of the application here from my reading of Knorr-Cetina, K. (1999). Epistemic cultures: How the sciences make knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press -- anyway, scientists cite to persuade others of their claims and to gain crediblity by association. Hm. Well...

So there I was, not working on my conference paper, and read Peter Murray-Rust's reprinting of the ALPSP statement which says in part: "journal articles provide one ‘view’ of the significance and interpretation of that data – and conference presentations and informal exchanges may provide other ‘views’ – but data itself is an increasingly important community resource."

This SSS stuff is quite interesting actually, because that statement from ALPSP might have slipped past me without some sort of consciousness raising. I totally agree with it, but it kind of keeps me from thinking they're evil if they're going to be so reasonable about it (actually the society publishers have never been evil, well, except for the nasty one that has to do with automotive technologies and is in Warrendale, PA {ok, and I've been corrected to say that it's not the society that is evil, just their policies})

These are tied together because reports (papers, articles) are representations of how the scientists make meaning of their observations. When papers are presented at conferences the audience, reviewers, and author together construct meaning through questions and discussion. Likewise, the authors' citation activity is how they negotiate and place the work in the scientific discourse.

Readers are saying, "like, well, duh" but I'm slowing learning *something*

Update 12/20/2006: Dr. Nicolaisen contacted me to clarify the quotes I pulled out of the context of the greater article. I've tried to correct this within the {} above, but it may just have created an un-readable run-on sentence. Please do pick up ARIST and read the original chapter if you are at all interested.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
  Neat trick with FF2 and Major Search Engine
I'm pretty lazy, so I frequently use major-search-engine-that-doesn't-need-link-love as a spell checker and a dictionary. It actually works pretty well in most cases for these. Now that Firefox 2.0 has the spell check built in for the form blanks, I don't need the search engine as much for that.

Generally, when I need to check some math arithmetic, I'll either open the little calculator that comes with Windows or I'll open Excel. I like Excel if there are more than a few numbers to add because I find that I get bored and lose track of my place in adding. (my bank knows this well as the totals of my deposit slips are frequently inaccurate if there are more than 3 checks...).

Anyway, out of pure laziness, I decided to use major-search-engine to do some simple percentages for me... and there's this cool new suggest feature in the search block.... well, it suggested the answer to my math problem so I didn't even have to hit enter. Very cool. Firefox does math!

Sitting here working on my lit review for my qual research project so I can get it into major-academic-conference-in-my-field before the end of January. I might have something meaningful to say later ;) Oh, yeah, and maybe pictures of my version of the no-knead bread (recipe courtesy), yum...


Sunday, December 10, 2006
  Glutton for punishment...
Maybe it's wrong to say this, but I really and truly thoroughly enjoyed my methodology classes this semester. Of course, I'm supposed to be working on my analysis for my qualitative research class now but... anyway.

I'm still such a beginner with both methodologies, qualitative research and social network analysis, but I think with practice I might be able to get something done that's worthwhile.

Hm, maybe people only hate the stats classes?

Random thoughts... hopefully more meaningful posts when I get my head up for air after this week.


Saturday, December 02, 2006
  Personal vs. Business Dimensions of Blogging
I've been meaning to contribute my information to Lilia Efimova's discussion of the different dimensions of employee blogging -- from personal to work-required. She's posted a follow-up already so I hope I'm not too late. See either of the linked posts for the template if you want to participate.

Friday, December 01, 2006
  A Must Read: RIN's tech report "Researchers and Discovery Services: Behaviour, Perceptions and Needs"
Researchers and Discovery Services: Behaviour, Perceptions and Needs. (2006, November) Research Information Network. http://www.rin.ac.uk/files/Report%20-%20final.pdf. Accessed 12/1/2006.
(via 1, 2, 3 -- yes, 3 people/feeds had to point it out to me before I finally looked at it!)

I've only gotten through the executive summary (and included with the full report) so far, but there are some really interesting points here. The purpose of the study was to "assess the use and the perceptions of resource discovery services by academic researchers in the UK." The researchers are post-docs and beyond. RIN commissioned Rightscom and IRN Research to interview 400 researchers and 50 librarians from all over the UK by telephone.

Some of the points are not surprising: general satisfaction, fee barrier to certain resources, one size doesn't fit all, peers are important, specific gaps in provision (foreign language materials, book chapters, backfiles)

Some points that will encourage me to continue reading:
"Researchers see searching as an integral part of the research process, and they tend to refine down from a large set of results"
"Researchers are concerned about irrelevant search results, but they are more concerned that they might miss important information"
62% have alerts running -- mostly e-mail
Mismatch between librarian perception of researcher search skills and researcher perception of their own skills.

Anyway, I'll put this in the rapidly growing "to read" pile. It's interesting that they are using interview quotes to support their points and that they state that this is a qualitative study. I really appreciate that, but with n=400, it seems like they could have done some quantitative work? I prefer the qualitative now, but I'm interested to see why they went that way.
  Great Physics Session at the Library
My local public library, PGCMLS, hosted a session yesterday evening with Dr. Jim Gates from the University of Maryland. It was also a chance for The Teaching Company to sell their products, but that's ok. We're starved for science here -- here in the county with the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, FDA offices, the National Agricultural Library, etc. -- there are no science cafes and few open public science lectures.

This session was aimed very low -- at people without even high school physics, I think -- but it was well attended and a lot of fun. Dr. Gates pretty much described what string theory is.

Bravo, PGCMLS! Keep up the good work.

BTW- I had Dr. Gates for Physics 410 and 411 eons ago, so can attest he's a good teacher although I can't say anything about the DVDs they're selling. I might check them out from the library!

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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

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