Thursday, June 22, 2006

Keep up on scholarly communication issues on Create Change website

You all know that dissemination of research has been changing rapidly in recent years. Publishers, funding agencies, professional societies, educational instititutions, and others are stakeholders in how best to shape the future of this process. Libraries and librarians have long been intermediaries in this process, and are active participants in the discussion. Create Change is a website advocating for using the benefits of technology for wider access to the fruits of your labor. It also gives examples of initiatives in open access scholarly publishing from many fields of study.

From the About page of the Create Change site:

"Create Change is an educational initiative that examines new opportunities in scholarly communication, advocates changes that recognize the potential of the networked digital environment, and encourages active participation by scholars and researchers to guide the course of change.

"Create Change was developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and is supported by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lost in a sea of science data

A free article from the Chronicle of Higher Education describes how librarians are teaming up with scientists to archive and preserve huge amounts of scientific data:
Science is experiencing revolutionary changes thanks to digital technology, with computers generating a flood of valuable data for scientists to interpret.

But that flood could drown science.

Data from experiments conducted as recently as six months ago might be suddenly deemed important, but researchers might never find those numbers — or if they did, might not know what the numbers meant. Lost in some research assistant's computer, the data are often irretrievable or an indecipherable string of digits. That's a scenario increasingly familiar to scholars, says James M. Caruthers, a professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.

"We are starting to die from data," he says bluntly.

To vet experiments, correct errors, or find new breakthroughs, scientists desperately need better ways to store and retrieve research data, Mr. Caruthers says, or "we are going to be more and more inefficient in the science that we do in the future."

Dealing with the "data deluge," as some researchers have called it, will be among the great challenges for science in the 21st century. Many in the field say that scientists should not be left to manage the data on their own.

Instead, librarians will have to step forward to define, categorize, and archive the voluminous and detailed streams of data generated in experiments. Already, librarians on some campuses — among them Purdue, the Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California at San Diego — are beginning to take on that role.
(read entire article)

Art of Science Competition / 2006 Gallery

Check out some really striking and lovely images and video from Princeton University's 2006 Art of Science competition....I especially liked this one:

Color Patterns of an Iron Extraction Time Series, Andrew Altevogt, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

More about the Art of Science competition.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Technology in Geologic Time...

I have a copy of my Geology MS thesis on a 5" floppy disk, which I carefully copied and coddled while I wrote (and rewrote and wrote and rewrote) my masterpiece. Now I might as well use it as a coaster for my double half-caf skinny latte. The era of the 31/2 disk is also well and truly over, I'm told. Are CDs and flash drives far behind? So if every new technology is doomed from its inception, how do we preserve our data for future scholars, or even for our own future projects? This concern is raised in stlq, one of my favorite blogs. Fortunately, UMass is working on a solution-- a digital repository, tentatively named UMass Scholarly Commons. For examples of other universities' digital repositories, look here. Aside from the important issue of preservation, there are other opportunities associated with this project--open access journals, for example. If you have questions, or want to become an early adopter of this technology at UMass, contact Marilyn Billings in the Library.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The impact of impact; and, peer review reexamined

Following up on Maxine's post about impact in physics....

A couple of interesting items regarding scholarly publishing have been making their way across the wires today.

(1) ACRLog points to some recent discussions about journal impact factors, including a Wall Street Journal article that discusses impact factor inflation and a Chronicle of Higher Education article (subscription required; UMass users can follow link) on problems quantifying impact in the humanities.

(2) Nature is hosting a web focus, including an online debate, regarding peer review in the scientific publication process:
Peer review is commonly accepted as an essential part of scientific publication. But the ways peer review is put into practice vary across journals and disciplines. What is the best method of peer review? Is it truly a value-adding process? What are the ethical concerns? And how can new technology be used to improve traditional models?
(via Science Library Pad)

These are issues that are definitely on people's minds here at UMass Amherst, as the campus undergoes a research benchmarking process and begins to explore the creation of an institutional repository.