Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What information technology are undergraduates using? ECAR study

Findings of The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008, from the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research investigates use and ownership of laptops, internet-ready mobile phones, etc., and what they do with them. "It analyzes the responses of 27,317 freshmen, seniors, and community college students at 98 colleges and universities in the United States to a web-based survey, as well as findings from a focus-group."

As a librarian, one of the most interesting tables was Table 1 in the "Key Findings" (p.4) of this report which shows "Student Computer and Internet Activities." At the very top of the list is Use the college/university library website with 93.4% of the students engaged, and a weekly median frequency of use. The Associated Demographic Factor was 4-year institutions/social sciences, so I can't celebrate too hard, but it still warmed the cockles of my heart.

I've only skimmed this, but it's pretty interesting to see what students are up to with the technology.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book for neophyte scientists - The Chicago Guide to Your Career in Science

I was looking for books about science writing and such to add to my subject guides and stumbled on this book - The Chicago Guide to Your Career in Science - a Toolkit for Students and Postdocs, by Victor A. Bloomfield and Esam E. El-Fakahany (U of Chicago Press, 2008). For some inexplicable reason, the UMass Amherst Libraries' copy is housed at the Du Bois library; its call number is Q 147 .B56 2008.

I haven't read it cover-to-cover, but I have dipped into it extensively at random. Every page I have read is full of sensible advice and good ideas, things that scientists know from hard experience or 20/20 hindsight, but might wish that someone had told them in advance. The subjects covered range from "Thinking about a Research Career" to "The Meaning and Responsible Conduct of Research" to "Going to Scientific Meetings" - see the Table of Contents for a fuller idea.

For example, the section "Senior or junior postdoc mentor?" (p. 85) presents a pithy and pertinent discussion on the pros and cons of working with someone with an established reputation and large lab vs. someone earlier in his or her career.

I don't know how well aspiring scientists are exposed to this kind of advice - perhaps it is done well in many labs, but in my humble opinion, this book should be required reading for anyone thinking of going into the sciences.

arXiv Online Scientific Repository Hits Milestone

On October 3rd 2008 arXiv announced that it passed the half-million article milestone. The online scientific repository was started in 1991 by Paul Ginsparg as a repository for preprints in physics and later expanded to include astronomy, mathematics, computer science, nonlinear science, quantitative biology and, most recently, statistics.

“arXiv began its operations before the World Wide Web, search engines, online commerce and all the rest, but nonetheless anticipated many components of current ‘Web 2.0’ methodology,” said Cornell professor Paul Ginsparg, arXiv’s creator. “It continues to play a leading role at the forefront of new models for scientific communication.”

“Researchers upload their own articles to arXiv, and they are usually made available to the public the next day. A team of 113 volunteer moderators from around the world screen submissions and recommend whether they should be included in the repository.”

“More than 200,000 articles are downloaded from arXiv each week by about 400,000 users, and its 118,000 registered submitters live in nearly 200 countries, including Suriname, Sudan and Iraq. Fifteen countries host mirrors of the main site, which is located on Cornell’s campus in Ithaca, N.Y.”

For more about this milestone read the press release at:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants

This might be old news, but I stumbled upon this page today, and thought there might be a use for it on this campus. Below is an excerpt from the page.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE)

SARE works to increase knowledge about - and help farmers and ranchers adopt - practices that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good to communities. Several types of competitive grants are awarded by four regional administrative councils. Research and education grants, generally ranging from $60,000 to $150,000, fund projects that usually involve scientists, producers and others in an interdisciplinary approach. Professional development grants, generally ranging from $20,000 to $90,000, offer educational opportunities for extension, NRCS, and other agricultural professionals. Producer grants, typically between $1,000 and $15,000, go to farmers and ranchers who test innovative ideas and share the results with their neighbors. Projects address crop and livestock production and marketing, stewardship of soil and other natural resources, economics and quality of life. Application details, deadlines, and percent success vary by region and program (see "Apply" below).

Special Notation
More information on SARE
Who Is Eligible to Apply
1862 Land-Grant Institutions
1890 Land-Grant Institutions
1994 Land-Grant Institutions
Hispanic-Serving Institutions
Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed
Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed
Other or Additional Information (See below)
Private Institutions of Higher Ed
State Agricultural Experiment Stations
State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed
State Governments
More Information on Eligibility
See Request for Applications for more detailed eligibility information.
Request for Application (RFA) Apply: Electronic Abstracts of Funded Projects