Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ScienceWatch tracks research

ScienceWatch.com, from Thomson Reuters, uses citation information to tracks trends in scientific research. The site provides ranking information as well as interviews and analyses of new research. The site is only a few months old, and I expect more topics and articles will become available over time. Worth bookmarking and perusing every couple of weeks, this site classifies institutions, scientists, and disciplines. For example, an article on "The Most-Cited Institutions in Plant & Animal Science, 1997-2007" is featured for this month. Students interested in this topic might use an article such as this as a jumping off point for research into graduate schools or career opportunities. Classification is also done for emerging research, and excellent maps are generated to identify the top articles in the chosen topic. The image below is the map for Haplotype Tag SNPs. Article citation and author contact information is included in conjunction with the map, making these topics easy for students and faculty to explore.

Another great aspect of ScienceWatch is its analysis. Highly cited researchers are interviewed about their ongoing research and its impact on the field and related disciplines. Dr. Eric Herbst, a Distinguished University Professor in Physics, Astronomy, and Chemistry at The Ohio State University in Columbus, is April's interviewee. He discusses his work on the chemistry of interstellar molecules. Furthermore, analysis articles are written on chosen topics and related research articles are highlighted.

Finally, the site offers podcasts of interviews and discussions with numerous top scientists, such as

  • Dr. Paula J. Reimer, Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (GAP)
  • Dr. Mark Newman, Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan
  • Jacques Banchereau, Director of the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas
  • and many more from private companies and universities in various disciplines

Friday, April 25, 2008

EBSCO offers free environmental database

GreenFile is a database offered at no charge by EBSCO. According to their Web site,

In keeping with our commitment to environmental consciousness, EBSCO proudly offers GreenFILE, a freely accessible research database focusing on the relationship between human beings and the environment, with well-researched but accessible information on topics ranging from global warming to recycling to alternate fuel sources and beyond. Comprised of scholarly and general interest titles, as well as government documents and reports, GreenFILE offers a unique perspective on the positive and negative ways humans affect the ecology. Drawing on the connection between the environment and disciplines such as agriculture, education, law, health and technology, GreenFILE will serve as an informative resource for anyone concerned about the issues facing our planet.
Among the 600 titles indexed by this database, many are open access, meaning the full text is available for free. Many of the titles are covered comprehensively from their originating date to present. Similar to other EBSCO databases, the Visual Search is available through GreenFile.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Smithsonian digitizes research series

The Smithsonian Institution's Contributions and Study Series is now freely available in full text. Titles are as listed:

The home page for the series has a full text, abstract, and author search feature. You can also search individual series at their respective sites. Thanks to Prof. Meylan for pointing this out to me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

I admit it. I dropped the ball on Earth Day--today! But there is still time to do one thing for Earth Day.

Preview the Web version of Scifinder Scholar

CAS is rolling out a Web-based version of the popular Scifinder Scholar. The new version was shown at the April 6 American Chemical Society meeting. The press release from CAS is available on their Web site, in addition to a demo of the new Web interface. The implementation of this new interface is taking place as a phased roll-out with Eckerd College's access starting in the fourth quarter according to a representative I spoke with by phone.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Assessment for instruction in Spring 2008

I was pleased that my second semester at Eckerd College involved a lot of instruction for the NAS Collegium. I asked students in the instruction sessions to fill out a short survey on SurveyMonkey to assess the classes. I learned that asking students to fill out the survey in class before leaving was much more effective than asking them to do it at home. Therefore, a few classes did not receive many responses. Nevertheless, the following statistics may be of interest.

First, I want to thank all the students who took the time to complete their surveys.

For Spring 2008, I received responses from 154 students. I cannot consider this individual students taught because I saw some students more than once, although for different lessons. Furthermore, I cannot say that the students reached were all within the NAS Collegium. I know some of the students were from Environmental Studies in the BES Collegium, and possibly other collegia as well. I think for next fall, I will change my survey to find out how many students see me more than once in a semester. For sessions near the end of the semester, I began implementing a pre-class assignment to find out who had me before, what they knew about the library, and what thoughts they had about their topics. I found this very helpful because it allowed me to tailor my session more effectively. It also meant that students had thought, at least a little bit, about their assignment before I showed them the resources that would help them. The latter developed from a session I did in February where the class had no idea what their assignment was, much less what topics were of interest to them. The concept of a pre-class assignment developed from a workshop I attended called Best Practices in Information Literacy offered by Tampa Bay Library Consortium. The instructors were librarians at the University of South Florida, Susan Ariew and Ilene Frank.

Breakdown by Student Status

Freshman 30.7% 47
Sophomore 11.1% 17
Junior 28.8% 44
Senior 29.4% 45

Most students felt that the instruction session would help them with their assignment. Students respond better to instruction when it is tied to the outcome of an assignment. With one professor, we also created an in-class assignment for the students to turn in and receive credit for completion. This class was the most engaged of any of the sessions I instructed this semester.

Will this instruction session help you with your research assignment for this class?
Yes 83.1% 123
No 5.4% 8
I don't know 11.5% 17

Again, I was pleased that most students thought the instruction should be included in the class in the future. I believe many of the student who answered No thought that they should have had instruction earlier in their careers at Eckerd. The open-ended comments often indicated a desire to have learned the skills I taught earlier. I think this is perhaps the most important lesson for the NAS community. Students should be learning how to research in the sciences in Freshman and Sophomore year. If faculty can include assignments that involve some library research earlier on, this will benefit our students. The assignment does not have to be a full-blown research paper. Many smaller assignments can involve library research. Please see me if you would like to discuss setting up those assignments for Fall.

Do you think this instruction session should be included in this class in the future?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 72.5% 111
No 15.0% 23
I don't know 12.4% 19

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy 100 Posts!

This is my one hundredth blog posting! I am very pleased with the blog so far. I have a few subscribers, and more importantly, I get a fair number of hits every day (~15-20). I write this blog solely for the Natural Science students and faculty at Eckerd so I am continually surprised by hits from places as far away as South Africa. This month, my location statistics show visitors from the following locations:

Alluvia + Ann Arbor + Auburndale + Bethesda + Bronx + Calcutta + Chandler + Cloverdale + Columbia + Columbus + Corpus Christi + Dallas + Denver + Duluth + Fairfax + Fort Collins + Fort Lauderdale + Greensboro + Halifax + Houston + Istanbul + Kettering + Knoxville + Lethbridge + Los Angeles + Marquette + Miami + Minneapolis + New Delhi + New Westminster + New York + Oakland + Orlando + Palmetto + Parkersburg + Pécs + Raleigh + Rancho + Cucamonga + Riyadh + Saint Petersburg + Saint-Orens-de-Gameville + San Diego + San Leandro + Seattle + Silver Spring + Toronto + Tyler + Uniontown + Whitefield + Woods Cross

Here are some blog facts:
  • Month after month the most read posts are Science Tattoos and Vote for the Cutest Baby Animals. Tattoos and baby animals generate big love.
  • The strangest comment I have gotten so far is by anti-war protester. I am not sure which organization refused to let Ron Paul speak. His comment was after a post on Thomson ISI, but maybe he meant Eckerd. However, to my knowledge, no candidates spoke at Eckerd. Also, just to clarify, anti-war protester says "You call yourself a scientist." I do not call myself a scientist. I am a librarian, a librarian for the Natural Sciences, true, but that does not make me a scientist. ;)
  • I know it's a small world because Professor Grove mentioned that I wrote a post about a former professor of his, Orville L. Chapman, in the post Peer review for students.
  • I was very excited when Reuven Walder, Director for The Marine Photobank, thanked me for a "fantastic summary" on the Marine Photobank in the post, Marine photos available for educational use. Coincidentally, this month that post had 40 views, up 54% from last month.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Open access for natural history texts

Nine institutions have formed the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an online collection of freely available biodiversity texts. The following organizations are working to digitize the most important works in their collections.

  • American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)
  • The Field Museum (Chicago, IL)
  • Harvard University Botany Libraries (Cambridge, MA)
  • Harvard University, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Cambridge, MA)
  • Marine Biological Laboratory / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, MA)
  • Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, MO)
  • Natural History Museum (London, UK)
  • The New York Botanical Garden (New York, NY)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Richmond, UK)
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (Washington, DC)
The literature being digitized is a large portion of taxonomic and systematic biological literature surviving today. As of this post, 3,743 titles (9,099 volumes/3,511,140 pages) have been digitized. The BHL offers an RSS feed to inform interested researchers of newly digitized pages.

As shown in the cloud tag above, topics include many disciplines in biology and natural history. Texts have been digitized from as far back as 1480 to the present day. Students in Marine Science may be particularly interested in the offerings from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. For example, I am constantly telling classes to be careful about the resources they try to obtain, that conference proceedings can be difficult to obtain. Several proceedings from the 1970s and 1980s have already been scanned by WHOI, and I imagine more will become available.

A search on our own Tampa Bay found 1 text:

Low-level monitoring of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in Tampa Bay, Florida, 1988-1993 / by R.S. Wells ... [et al.].
Publication Info: Miami, FL :U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center ;[1996]
Contributed By: MBLWHOI Library
Tags: Bottlenose dolphin Ecology Florida Monitoring Observations Tampa Bay

The search engine is not extremely robust at this time, however from blog postings on the project, more capability is planned. Individual texts are tagged with hyperlinked subjects that can be used to search for other texts on similar topics. It is also possible to search by donating institution, year, language, names, titles, authors, and map.

The map feature is a nice example of integrated Web technology. Powered by Google, the map’s pinpoints are linked to location tags on individual texts. You can zoom into areas with several pinpoints to find more specific regions. Nothing’s perfect, however, as I found by clicking on a pinpoint near Naples, Florida, to be brought to a text referring to Naples, Italy.

Another interesting tool is TaxonFinder, which uses XML to find scientific names on the pages of scanned texts.

This is a very exciting project, and I will continue to monitor its progress to learn of new developments.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Countdown

I am back from my illness, and the library has been buzzing with end-of-semester activities. Between library instruction classes and reference, I have had little time for blogging. However, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am available for research help as you start your final assignments. Make an appointment or come by the library. I am always here Thursday night 6-10, and it tends to be a somewhat quiet night. I know the weather is fabulous and the last place you want to be is the library, but it will be over before you know it. Take some time to stop by and see me!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

CDC Web site

Geographic spread of influenza for the week ending March 29, 2008, Weekly US Map, Influenza Summary Update, Centers for Disease Control

I have been out for the last day and a half with a bug: I have aching--like I just worked out extra hard when, in actuality, moving from my couch to my kitchen for more OJ has me exhausted--, and fever, a headache that could make you cry, and stuffiness. Is it a cold or is it the flu? The flu is difficult to diagnose by its symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Like any good librarian, I spend my sick time reading about what I possibly have, what I should do about it, and what I should have done to prevent it. (If you do this as well, consider librarianship as a career.) The CDC Web site has improved greatly in usability since the last time I searched it, and the available information is impressive. For example, the section on influenza contains a basic overview, fact sheets, and posters. In addition, information is tailored to specific groups, such as adults with asthma, schools, and more. Health professionals also have their own section. Surveys and statistics abound. I learned that in 2007, "The percentage of males observed washing their hands fell from 75% in 2005 to 66% in 2007."* This tidbit came from a link that the CDC included in the section on better health. In addition, I learned that if I do have the flu, I am still contagious and shouldn't be here at the library. Unfortunately, there is no section on what to do when several members of the staff are sick, and coverage is needed. So here I am trying not to breathe on the students that I help, and washing my hands every so often. But the good news is that I have discovered that whether you are looking for prevention, cures, images for presentations, or disease information, CDC is a one-stop shop.

*Harris Interactive. (2007). 2007 Handwashing Survey Fact Sheet. Retrieved 10 April 2008, from http://www.washup.org/

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bibliography for scientific writing and presenting

As promised, my annotated bibliography for writing and presenting in the sciences is now available. This does not include every book that Eckerd Library has on the subject. Instead I tried to focus on more current and effective resources. Style guide such as the Council of Science Editors and the ACS Style Guide are not listed here. I am working to add books on specific disciplines to the collection, and as I do, the bibliography will be updated.

PDF version

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Job Bullet

Spring break is over, and we plunge toward semester end and graduation for some. And then what? If you're a senior, I hope you have some sort of plan, but if not, and for those of you much earlier in your academic career, the Library of Congress' Science Tracer Bullets Online present Career Opportunities in Science and Technology. Science Tracer Bullets Online is a series of research guides created by the librarians at the Library of Congress on more than 50 topics. The guides are indexed by keyword and can be searched.

The Career Opportunities in Science and Technology guide provides a thorough list of relatively recent resources for scientific careers. In addition, it offers subjects and indexes to employ while conducting research. Hyperlinks are available for those resources free on the Web. Taking some time to think about your future now can help prepare the path.