Found and Not Found: Scholarly Literature on the Web

Spurred by a recent New Yorker article about the birth and necessity of the Internet Archive, and how it helped identify who might have shot down the civilian plane in Ukraine, I looked into Jill Lepore’s sources to learn more.

She references a December 26, 2014 and a May 9, 2014 article in the open access journal PLOS ONE that are significantly related to information literacy and scholarship on the Web.  I would be curious to hear your responses.

1. Not Found

Lepore mentions “reference rot” and an article that found that 1 in 5 links used as citations in scholarly literature no longer work.  The research was conducted by library researchers who analyzed Science, Technology, and Medicine journals between 1997 – 2012. This is certainly an important point for us to note and help our students and faculty choose wisely.

2. Found

Another set of researchers attempted to identify how many pieces of scholarly literature were freely available on the Web.  Of the 114 million English-language articles they found, 24% or 27 million were freely available.
I wonder how these two impact our services and how they contribute to and inform the perception that “everything is available online” in the domain of scholarly literature.  I can’t help but notice that the open access nature of the articles in PLOSOne helped update and enrich the information in this more “popular” magazine with scholarly information.

Housecleaning at the Directory of Open Access Journals

This post by Rick Anderson, and the comments that follow, is an excellent introduction to the conversation about the quality of open access journals in general and the editorial policies of the Directory of Open Access Journals. The comments include a conversation joined by important voices like Peter Suber, Richard Poynder, and Jeffrey Beall (of Beall’s list).

Stanford Computer Science Class for Free Professional Development

NPR featured the consortium of top Universities that are partnering to provide some of their courses for free to anyone who wants to take them. The start-up is called Coursera and it features a wide range of courses from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences from Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Princeton University.

This struck me as a great opportunity for some professional development. I’ve wanted to devote some time to learning more about computer programming and to beef up my knowledge of the foundational principles of my IT colleagues as well. The Computer Science 101 course from Stanford beginning April 23 looked like a good bet.

I signed on to Coursera and completed the first week’s lectures and assignments and was impressed. The lecture video and corresponding documents were well laid out and included quizzes and exercises within to engage and test what students’ retained. I learned some basic coding and also developed a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of digital images; giving me a glimpse of how the underlying code of software like Adobe Photoshop would work.

Computer Science 101 Stanford University

I would recommend this course, Computer Science 101 by Nick Parlante to any librarian who is interested in developing their understanding of computers and how they work. If you want to be a digital librarian or become a better one, I encourage you to join me on this journey in the class itself or at the blog where I am documenting what I’ve learned –

Open Access Reaches the Public Through Medical News

ABC News ran a story about doctors who expect to have access to the medical literature but can’t because of publisher costs.  They also mentioned the open access movement including the NIH mandate to deposit publications funded by the federal government to PubMed Central so they can be accessed by the public for free.

This is a great opportunity to educate the public about the need for Open Access promoted by advocates like Peter Suber in the United States and Steven Harnad in the UK.  The story begins with a direct connection between the doctor who did the research that would help many people and the lack of access by most people because of commercial publication costs.

Maybe us librarians could hit the comment section with a dose of open access education?  This way more people will understand that the disproportionately rising costs of journals compared to library budgets is a danger to them as well as the “ivory tower”. That’s the ticket.

Next Generation Library Catalogs

Eric Lease Morgan, Head of Digital Access and Information Architecture Department at the University Libraries of Notre Dame            

This is a link to an outline of his idea for next generation library catalogs on the ND library website originally composed in 2006 and updated in 2007. A more recent and shorter version is available on his website, Infomotions.

He asked about what people want to learn and addressed whether he will be able to do that.

Initial Questions

  • What is the Catalog?
  • What does it Contain?
  • What functionality do you expect from it
  • What problem is it expected to solve?

What is the Catalog?

Concept of Index

  • list of words as a pointer
  • he advocates that catalog is type of index
  • index is finding tool, database is organization of information
    • Google is index, URL’s are the pointers

1995 collecting eletronic journals

  • created an 856 subfield u and people said you can’t do that.
  • expanded from ownership to licensed material, and where to find other items.
  • Catalog more of a finding aid.

Continue reading

What Digital Scholarship Models Are Scholars Using?

In November 2008, a report written by Ithaka and commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries, entitled Current  Models of Digital Scholarly Communication, examined how faculty members use exclusively-digital, non-traditional scholarly resources. It identified 206 resources used by faculty that fit ARL’s category of “original and scholarly”. Those sources are aggregated in an ARL searchable database.

To be clear, “Original” means that the content was “born-digital” and appears in the chosen resource first. “Scholarly” refers to the author’s identity as a scholar and includes both peer-reviewed resources and informal sources like blogs and discussion forums.

Within the 206 resources, eight categories emerged:

  1. E-journals
  2. Reviews
  3. Preprints and Working Papers
  4. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Annotated Content
  5. Data
  6. Blogs
  7. Discussion Forums
  8. Professional and Scholarly Hubs (Mixture of these categories)

Some interesting points:

  • Top reason for use of these resources across disciplines was to access most current research
  • Academic discipline influences which formats are considered important
    • E-journals among top choice across disciplines
    • Humanities highly value informal exchanges (blogs, discussion) more than other disciplines
    • Social Sciences highest rated – professional hubs, preprints (Social Science Research Network)
    • Science, Technical and Medical (STM) rated data sources the highest
  • Some preprint sources like SSRN and arXiv (STM) have been around for a while and are established but many others are new and still must gain respect from the broader community.
  • These resources have created new forms of scholarly contributions.  Are they being acknowledged by tenure committees?  Christine Borgman is interviewed about this in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bringing Tenure into the Digital Age.

This report provides a good foundation for integrating and encouraging the use of these resources for faculty.  It also gives more insight into the influence that a discipline has on their workflow.

Zotero quick intro

Educause published a great quick reference about Zotero in September 2008.  It answers 7 main questions about Zotero:

  1. What is it?

    A research tool for managing online references.

  2. Who’s doing it?

    Software reads bib info from online locations like the Library of Congress, LexisNexis, Amazon, and JSTOR as well as many other Web Sites.

    Used by anyone who does online research including undergrads, graduates, faculty and researchers.

  3. How does it work?

    A download that is embedded in Firefox, Netscape 9.0 or Flock that appears as a button at the bottom right of the browser window.

    Application allows users to easily add, organize, annotate, and export resources, sometimes with one click.

  4. Why is it significant?

    Users have their own repository to store and organize the whole body of their research.

    It also allows for easy use and connections of those stored citations and documents.

  5. What are the downsides?

    Limited to Firefox and doesn’t work with Internet Explorer.

    Located on one computer.

    (Not in this document, but current lawsuit from the makers of EndNote, courtesy of Disruptive Library Technology Jester, threatens the new release of Zotero).

  6. Where is it going?

    Developers are working to make an online version in order to add availability from any computer.

    Format is good for scholars who want to use and cite the variety of media on the Internet.

  7. What are the implications for teaching and learning?

    Facilitates and encourages proper citation.

    Located in environment where online research takes place; the browser.