Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, January 25, 2008
  My ASIST PIM article now available
I updated the original post, but just in case. At conference +90 days we're allowed to self archive our papers. I put mine up on both D-LIST and E-LIS. This reports a qualitative study in to how senior engineers in a research lab setting manage their personal, work-related information.

Choose your source: D-LIST or E-LIS
(and in the vein of eating your own dog food, so to speak, this will be one of the first things I deposit in our institutional repository when it goes live)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008
  Yeah, but could there ever be enough for replication?
I'm all about open data - I really need to make that point because I'm sure I come off as critical.

We had a great opportunity to discuss some of this at the session at the NC Science Blogging Conference (1/19). Xan mentioned that the data are rarely freely available, if available at all, and
that this is a problem because the data can be used for quality control, and to support new analyses and visualizations. Of course the problems of format can be overcome, and people are working hard on storage problems.

The discussion bit centered around getting scientists to post their data. Bill thought that congress should mandate it -- to which I reacted really negatively. Holy cow- look at the backlash for making the published stuff available! The scooping issue was brought up (and also in the comments on the Scientific American article and in [1] - the d'oh! moment), too, but all of these overlook a bigger problem.

My points in this post are:
- that it is very difficult, if not impossible to replicate many tricky experiments without a lot more information than is found in a journal article (not the data, but meta info)
- hands on transfer of tacit knowledge may be required ([2] says this nicely, but I don't buy a whole lot of other things in [2] so do not read this as an endorsement of the article)
- it is very difficult to retrieve datasets and then reuse them because it's nearly impossible to capture enough data so that they are useful (this has been overcome in some large astro datasets, but they seem different because the instrument is shared and very well documented - please correct me if this is wrong)
- it's difficult to trust someone else's dataset if you don't know their work
- if data sets are embargoed until the PI wrings all of the papers out of them that s/he can, are they still relevant to other researchers?
- at what level would the data be kept? straight from the sensors/instruments? unpacked/processed? graphed, fused, analyzed?

Certainly meta-analyses happen all of the time and some of these use unpublished data (so that becomes interesting when it shows the bias from publishing only large strong positive results). There are also a few papers giving really paltry response rates when authors are asked to provide a pre/post/e/off-print of an article (I want to say like 30%)

If this can be done at all there are certain things that might make it more likely:
- like with gene databases, bottom up, you must submit your stuff to one of these approved repositories if you want to be published in our journal or be a member of our professional society
- repositories have to be disciplinary -- or really smaller than that -- at the research area level so that the metadata can be tailored to the community's needs. Tons of money has gone into information retrieval from gene databases and some of these other databases might be pretty complicated,too.
- data would have to link to author or research group and articles that used the data
- data would have to be useful (like Jean-Claude's spectra instead of just pdf's of spectra) and stay readable - not a proprietary format, or if so, need to migrate to new versions.
- search would have to make sense
- funding and preservation would have to be steady and long term. It's fine if the data sets are free to retrieve, but then where does the overhead get kept?
- send a ping back to the original author when his/her data is being reused

I am so totally not an expert on any of these issues but I seem to be sitting on an inconvenient boundary between the two areas so I feel bound to try to translate a bit, however poorly.

(actually, I just remembered some librarian discussions about the difficulty of data supplements in astro journals... hm, maybe that did get figured out with online? maybe not? still hard to find?)

[1] Birnholtz, J. P., & Bietz, M. J. (2003). Data at work: Supporting sharing in science and engineering. GROUP '03: Proceedings of the 2003 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work, Sanibel Island, Florida, USA. 339-348. DOI: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/958160.958215
[2] Shapin, S. (1995). Here and everywhere: Sociology of scientific knowledge. Annual Review of Sociology, 21(1), 289-321

1) discussion wrt Hwang case and peer review and cloning... replication hard and expensive, still want to look at the data see: http://blogs.nature.com/reports/theniche/2007/06/how_can_journals_improve_peer.html
(so the up shot is yes, make data available but not necessarily for the purpose of replication -- which I think everybody pretty much goes along with)
2) new research on peer review, reviewers think it's generally a good idea to review the data but are not terribly excited about doing it themselves, see: summary paper, toward the end http://www.publishingresearch.net/PeerReview.htm

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  Kent County (Maryland) Also Leading the Way
(via a *Florida* librarian!)
Yay, Kent, the first library system in Maryland to pick Evergreen! Kent is much less populous and more rural than Howard (which has chosen Koha) so I think this might even be a bigger deal. There's more on their process on their blog: http://kcplinnovations.blogspot.com/
Monday, January 21, 2008
  Google and open data
(via Carol on SLA PAM Division listserv)


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Sunday, January 20, 2008
  NC Science Blogging Conference Wrap-Up
Now that I'm home I thought I would post a quick summary of the conference. (BTW- I keep getting strange things when I visit the wiki site - like really old versions of the pages and something was written over one of the pages)

First, it was very well organized. Some conferences run by for profit companies or professional societies don't go this smoothly! The hotel was close and reasonably priced. My room was very nice, and the hotel went out of its way to ferry people around and make sure we had what we needed. It would have been nice if the bar had been laid out so people could socialize and congregate, but that's really pretty minor in the course of things.

Sigma Xi was a great host ("zi" if anyone else forgot their Greek). The center was very attractive and the wireless was great. The food was fabulous (the pulled pork with the NC-style sauce, oh and the cole slaw and the hush puppies, and the locopops ... amazing, now I'm hungry again!).

The goodie bag of swag was packed full. The bag itself was from the local museum and unlike some from other conferences, I'll probably use this frequently. I have enough science magazines to last me for a while, and a business card case, a massager, a USB laptop light, a beautiful coral reef calendar...

The dinner beforehand, the drinks at the bar both nights, and the socializing between sessions were all very useful. I really got a chance to talk for a while with scientists in many different research areas as well as with other interested parties such as science journal editors, PBS consultants, ethicists, gender studies-interested scientists, other science librarians/information scientists, scientific software engineers, museum workers of all sorts, writers... They taught me a lot about what they do and how they use their blogs. With all of this, there is still a need for a ton more research on how scientists blog. Also, what it means for a scientist to blog for an organization, event, or experiment. I really need to get my article edited and submitted to a journal. I want to dive back into another study on the topic, but I'll have to figure out what it should be next. (btw- Tara's article on science blogging has not been published yet, I was afraid I'd missed it. I'll link when it's out)

As for the actual sessions - they were great, too. It's unfortunate I could only be one place at a time. The marine research one actually reminded me of something I'd heard from other bloggers and also something a book author I was sitting next to at dinner mentioned: blogs are a great place to put the extra stuff - stuff that is in excess of what's needed for a journal article or a book or a film, or maybe stuff that isn't enough for a journal article or ... So maybe I should say what I mean by that. Eric Roston will be using his blog to put out a lot of information he found for his forthcoming book, The Carbon Age. Really good stuff, but it just didn't fit into the book. Likewise, the marine researchers go out on extended cruises but sometimes only four papers result. One thing they will do is to communicate with land-based researchers to get their guidance on things - like if they don't have that flavor of expert on board. Now they can use blogs for sort of mini reports of new science. Things that maybe aren't enough for an article, but are still the results of cool research. They can post these things very quickly, too.

We didn't resolve in this session what the difference is between live and real-time blogging, and we didn't figure out what the difference is between blogging for an organization and for yourself (I think most agree that blogging for an organization should still be only lightly controlled and not be overly restricted).

A theme I can't support that I heard at the end of the conference is that science bloggers should go full time and they should be paid to do nothing but blog-- I think some of the best contributions come from scientists who get material through their research, their reading to keep up in their fields, and their attendance at professional conferences. I really think this should be in addition to other forms of communication. With that said, I think we still should try to actively recruit unheard voices. We need many more scientists in all research areas to really establish this as a new way of doing business.

Unfortunately, there are many disincentives for female and underrepresented group scientists to blog at all, even more so with their real life identity. I don't know how to help this - at all - but I think we can learn something from the adoption of other ICTs. Big things need to happen to fix the face of science - but it's a chicken and egg thing, too. Visible female and underrepresented group scientists will recruit more, but the low percent that exists have too much riding on being seen like everyone else, or better than everyone else, to perhaps actively recruit... don't know. Luckily Pat and Zuska (and others) are on the case. I'm sort of building up a backlog, but this would make a great study (women and science blogs...)

As far as open data goes -- this is huge right now, and plenty of computer scientists and librarians and archivists (a special flavor of librarian in case you didn't know) and discipline specialists (bioinformaticists, astronomers, etc.) are on the case (with some help from NSF funding). There are several issues related to culture (getting people to contribute, learning what people need to be able to trust and reuse data), information representation/organization, information retrieval, and data structures required for such massive piles of data. There are also preservation issues (migrate the data, what format to store it in, etc). I totally support what J-C is doing but I also think that if many, many labs do this, we'll need some better way to search and organize than google (IMHO). BTW - I also feel pretty strongly that it is the wrong way to go to look to Congress for a mandate for open data! (ok, if you are a scientist and reading this, do you want Congress to force you to publish your hard-earned stuff and then have all of the Canadian, British, German, etc., scientists dine out on it without sharing their own?). It has to come from the relevant international professional societies and journal publishers, sort of from the bottom up, and so that it impacts everyone with interests in that research area.

The closing session on framing and the science debate was not well done and that's too bad because there was a large audience who were prepared to listen. By presenting the information on framing poorly, they probably lost some support instead of gaining support. As for the science debates, well, it's hard to see how they would make a difference. AAAS has gathered the statements of the candidates and that stuff is pretty telling. So I'll leave this for now, but I will try to weave in more thoughts in future posts.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008
  NC Science Blogging Conference: Adventures in Science Blogging
Jennifer Ouellette

Where is science going?
The way we never were: anti-social geeks
we are: scientists, educators, writers, students, other
She's gotten a lot from her blog.

we have a lot of strengths including personal voice, opinionated...
but there are some concerns: no accountability, comment trolls...
ostrich effect: people only listen to views that agree with theirs

more and more science bloggers and bloggers from msm, etc. blogging now gets you noticed by msm. but there are still some universities that state that they will hold blogging against junior faculty in tenure decisions.

(she sees a need for more professional bloggers -- i disagree. I think it's precisely the people who are active in their discipline who write the most interesting blogs/posts)

(argh! open access <> electronic -- she said that we need open access so we have electronic access ARGH!)

- D. S. - I don't need or want to be paid for blogging
- someone - institutional reasons to support their scientists blogs
- H. - it's more than either no or tight oversight, there can be some middle ground - someone checking in from time to time and bloggers being considerate of their employers
- science writer vs. science blogger is not a real distinction
- indy media - neither msm or blogs (fills in the continuum)
- the accuracy and expertise of the science bloggers is overlooked - generalist journalists are not able to do the same
-we do have some voice on msm newspaper sites as they now link to blog comments (using technorati or sphere)
- q from online, about getting tenure

(very sleepy and a lot skeptical and a little cranky so take this all with a grain of salt)

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  NC Science Blogging Conference: Open Data
(I don't know what the exact title was)

Xan Gregg

reproducible, archived, prevent/detect fraud

survey of journal authors
- “available upon request”
- “… with qualifications” (pay, for qualified researchers)

example American economic review data policy
“authors … that contain.. must provide.. sufficient for ..”

benefits of published data
ex: climate change, “more guns, less crime”, better visualizations
quality control, better analysis, better visualizations

how to publish data
raw, plain text, xml, sql database, datasharing sites (many eyes, swivel, wikis)

Jean-Claude Bradley
real time, using a number of tools, to get to open notebook science

walked us through his blogs and the types of posts he makes
- announcing collaborations
- local news
- results
- shipping products
- some science philosophy

blog links to wiki entry for experiment which links to chemspider, methods info, raw data (spectra, etc)

comparing experiments

log system
(results centric view, so that if you drop the vial then everything up to that point can still be used)

people are using his stuff (know through analytics)
- troubleshooting their own experiments

also discuss failures

(I needed to plug in so from here we talked about scalability, findablility, the feasibility of mandating deposit of data)

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  NC Science Blogging Conference: Gender and Race in science
Gender and Race in science: online and offline
SF (Suzanne Franks, moderator), KV (Karen Venti, science to life), PC (Pat Campbell, fairer science), SW (ScienceWoman)

Starting off points from the blog
PC – in response to Summers, why is the media not covering this, why isn’t there more info on women in science
- guidance from journalists and from other scientists on talking to the media
- wonderful community of women in science
- how to we use women in science blogs to get more girls interested in science – use advocates to promote the blogs to the students
- science carnival (for women scientists) theme this month on telling stories
- blogs have helped her connect with younger women scientists

SW (and minnow)
- science womanofesto (about being a woman and a scientist, and being married and a grad students), starting conversations (see on her blog) (5/11/2005)
- she gets a lot of benefit and feedback, she is a student of gender studies and she learns a lot
- she gives blogs an hour a day to read and write, but she gives so much because she gets so much out of it, especially starting a new job and moving
- audience has changed blogging, and she has become more targeted as she has blogged more
- advice – think about your style beforehand. she’s found that she can do either woman as scientist or do the actual science

KV (grad student, intends to go into science writing)
- her blog is about science and life and for her to get experience writing science for the public
- why with tons of female scientists, why aren’t more blogging?
- advice – just do it, talk to other science bloggers and get some help and just get started

Audience questions
- pseudonyms, assumption that male
- some males with female pseudonyms and vice versa

self-censoring if you’re blogging under your own name
- even if pseudonymously still self censoring (both to maintain anonymity and to maintain blog-life boundaries and to not be a jerk and to present the right social identity of several)
- in the case of race and ethnicity, there might be not enough people to even maintain anonymity so can’t be part of this larger community and get the support that might be built in for majority scientists and students
- if have a job, have to censor further

Maybe science bloggers in the open are more likely to be tenured and out there already.

Maybe scientists think that they’re objective and don’t appreciate racial, gender, etc., lenses (lenses my word).

blogging vs. just being a woman scientists
- can find others like you when you can’t in your local area and can get support

difficult to find African American and Hispanic scientist bloggers

KV- as a grad student, has a PI who is very supportive of what she’s doing, and who wants to increase representation in science,

can women get ahead in science by becoming more visible, because they may be better writers and can have popular blogs

SF- woman’s studies does provide knowledge beyond “anecdotal” this is what I experienced, so there needs to be respect for gender/race things that are results of systematic research (my words: even if qualitative or ethnographic paradigms)

PIs could read what women are experiencing and make sure that they use it to learn and treat women better (I did not capture this thought)

Issue on magazines getting information out there about gender and race issues when participants are not willing to come out and be quoted.

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  NC Science Blogging Conference: Real-time blogging in the marine sciences
Real-time blogging in the marine sciences. Discussion leaders are Kevin Zelnio, Karen James, Rick MacPherson, Peter Etnoyer and Jason Robertshaw.

On deep sea expeditions sponsored by NOAA, including real-time video transmitted from UUVs. Scientists on call – if the limited number who can be on the ship, but they can call scientists ashore who can look at the real-time video and then help the shipboard folks decide what to gather or look at more closely.

Got together in small groups to talk about what real-time blogging is, when it’s useful, and what the difference between real-time and live?
- someone from NC marine something (sea grant) or other (how to convince organization worthwhile, maybe not useful for everyday live, but for special events)
KJ – how do we know how are blogs are used and how they are valuable? very limited statistics, very few comments
RM – problem of organization vs. personal, blogging for the org, then become an official mouthpiece, NOAA people can’t comment per policy
- blogs are more than just opinionated diaries
PE- it’s important to put boundaries when you start out, (likes the idea of an event blog), gets more bang for the buck of the event
JR- hard to control the message when everyone has a cell phone and can report
KJ - scientists have personalities – but this has been under wraps
Folks from museum of life scientists – tried out in house first, then to membership, now to public... skeptics could see that it was ok. People think that what they do isn’t interesting, but it really can be.
Real time vs. live
- same?
- thought out vs. stream of consciousness

someone from nc17 – you think you don’t have something to say

How can we measure the impact of blogs?
- page views?
- can’t measure knowledge management
- can’t measure unless you have a purpose – so you can measure wrt a goal
- shouldn’t be all top down for measurements, if a kid enjoys a post maybe that means something more

what about corporations seeding comments and trying to sway the conversation pro industry
- example from mining near extinct vents (?), comments from scientists contracted to support mining operations caused them to be more careful – still outspoken but more careful

Maybe a use of the analytics are to understand how many lurkers – comments aren’t the only thing. This is sort of an old thing because politicians for every letter there are 100 people who feel the same way

RM- perceived value of providing a real time account. What are we adding by telling you about a day in our life.
What does this value then add to the awareness of the science. And how does that compare to value of peer reviewed paper or polished science program.
PE- maybe only 4 papers from a whole trip, but there is a lot of left over material, maybe not worth a whole paper but very interesting

CP- maybe we underestimate the recruiting purposes
KJ – yeah, and for all of science by making it seem accessible and done by real people.

concern from scientists that it will take away from peer reviewed work, and take away respect from

Jennifer (Shiftingbaselines) something to say about professional journalism and “vulgarity of narcissism” - risk of blogging, journalists do a real job filtering and making scientists look good – maybe the blog becomes about the personality and the science is lost

CP- maybe room for both
KJ- but the blog can also become raw materials for reporting

Lisa- community content manager who blogged about a positive experience, and then his post was published in the

Larry - Science education – emphasis on science as a process (not facts handed down from on high), real-time blogging could be really great for this

KJ- real-time blogging maybe can serve later to resolve controversy or for archival purposes.
RM- interesting that people are coming back to older posts

Pamela- uses scientific blogs in the classes (undergrad), a blogger she knows and who does good work, they can then read the full article alongside the blog and understand more.

KZ- pitfalls as real time bloggers?

KZ- how to make relevant
Roy- so much information, but hard to pick out and find the nuggets of info

CP – maybe carnivals and reviews have a fuction here?

Pamela- but who is the audience for the carnival? some are very heavy duty what’s new in science now.
KJ- comments that her blog is too hard for someone.. so what about jargon both of field and of blogging, also how do we avoid “vulgarity of narcissism”

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Friday, January 18, 2008
  NC Science Blogging Conference: Dinner
A bunch of bloggers met up at the Town Hall Grill in Chapel Hill. Many of the groups got lost getting there. I'm glad I picked up a car full so I didn't have to try to figure that out on my own!

Once I got there, it was great. I sat with a couple of authors of science books and learned about their work. I also sat by an online educator.

The food was fabulous: salad with a roquefort dressing and bacon, mahi-mahi over fried chipotle polenta, and then banana pudding for dessert (the real stuff!).

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  NC Science Blogging Conference: EPA Tour
Cyndy Yu-Robinson hosted this fabulous tour of the EPA's facility here in RTP. First Cindy took us to hear from Pete Schubert who told us about how they designed, built, and maintain the buildings to be as green as possible. Many of the green building techniques really weren't around when they started, and now they have an Environmental Management System to help them make continuous improvements. They have a few brochures and more information here.

Next, Debbie Janes took us around to a few of the labs. Zora (?) told us all about the wind tunnel that they use to study how aerosols interact with people and objects (please forgive anything I get wrong here -- others on the tour took notes).

Later, Ron Williams told us about his work looking at how point or regional measurements of air quality correlate with personal measurements. He has a participant wear a vest that has various devices to sample the air for all sorts of pollutants. This, along with a time use diary, allows them to study what and individual has been exposed to.

Dr. Nicolle Tulve told us about her work in studying what pollutants children are exposed to around the house. She samples the surfaces with wipes, looks at the foods the children eat, and various other things to get a picture of what the child has come in contact with.

Debbie led us over to the areas in which they look at diesel exhaust and also how to incinerate contaminated stuff (everything from furniture to carpet and more).

I feel like I'm forgetting an entire lab.

This was a great tour and the EPA folks took a lot of time to answer our questions and show us around. I really appreciate it! They do amazing stuff here and good science.

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  Science Cafe: Public Understanding of Science
(doing a little catch up blogging)
My husband and I attended a science cafe event at the House of Sweden Wednesday (1/16). (as an aside: I thought the cool modern building would be uncomfortable and forbidding, but it was very comfortable and welcoming. The exhibit of photographs in the auditorium is amazing. The building also has a fabulous view).
Borrowing from the announcement that was sent to the SLA-DC list:
Jan Riise, Goteborg Center for Public Learning and Understanding of Science
Matthew C. Nisbet (blog), Assistant Professor at American University, the School of Communication

Nils Bruzelius, Deputy National Editor/Science at the Washington Post

The cafes are a continuation of the 2007 Linnaeus Tercentenary celebrations where Swedish and American researchers debate important science & technology issues.

We were a tad late (quel surprise), so only heard a little of Bruzelius' introduction.

Riise spoke about events he's organized and efforts in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe to enable scientists and the public to meet to exchange information. He also talked about his small city and his country and some views they have on communicating science to the public. I think these things are great -- why not have more events instead of just science museums, etc?

Nisbet's work is well known and has been discussed thoroughly elsewhere. It was very valuable to hear him speak in person because I really do understand his view from communications theory and research better. This overlaps what I've read to an extent, but is also quite different from some of the more sociological things I've read.

The interesting thing is that another audience member felt that this is "ruining science" and "asking scientists to lie and manipulate the public" and is "absolute garbage." WHOA?! So we argued for a while, but I still cannot figure out the harm in helping scientists to learn how to speak to the public more clearly, and so their information will be heard and accepted. (a nutshell version of what was presented is that public support for science, etc., is not only dependent on the public's level of knowledge about the science, but the way the science is presented, and how that fits into their schema/mental models, religious beliefs, past history, etc.).

OTOH, I think that we should not necessarily require scientists to learn how to talk to the public, there are public affairs folks who can do an awful lot of good. But if there are scientists who
want to talk to the public, then learning how communication works might help a bit.

As a (not often as I should) church-going theist, I do appreciate his arguments against New Atheism's lack of tolerance or understanding for how scientists can be other than atheist.

Oh, and as a minor criticism (one I should heed myself), Nisbet really said some things that required a bit of social sciences training to get. He has a very different world view than people with physical sciences training so I wonder if he was too bent on making a strong academic argument and maybe didn't reach everyone? He talked really, really fast to cover all of his slides. Hm.

There was something else, too, but I've forgotten. If it comes back to me I'll add to this. BTW- there were << 170 people there.


Friday, January 11, 2008
  Who cares about green, free wireless at SLA!
Yay! " supplying free wireless Internet access throughout the conference center"

(See SLA's green initiative press release: http://www.sla.org/content/SLA/pressroom/pressrelease/08pr/pr2801.cfm)


Wednesday, January 09, 2008
  How to blog a conference...
A nice little booklet. I'll probably point this out for all of my fellow SLA and ASIST conference bloggers.

Sometimes, though, some unofficial more impressionistic thoughts or analysis are called for


Monday, January 07, 2008
  Quote of the day
A scientific laboratory without a library is like a decorticated cat: the motor activities continue to function, but lack coordination of memory and purpose. (p.102)
Ziman, J. M. (1968). Public knowledge: An essay concerning the social dimension of science. London: Cambridge University Press.
  New Carnival of the InfoSciences is Up

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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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