JURN is now six years old. The alpha version launched with just 951 arts and humanities open access journals, back in early 2009. JURN has been worked on more or less continuously since then, and is now is highly optimised and able to offer search results from a much expanded range of titles and disciplines.
Journal of Applied Ecology (‘Virtual Issues’ only)
Lots of press chatter in the last few days about a not-yet-public new academic search engine from Helsinki Institute for Information Technology called SciNet. It seems it’s been in development for some years. Here’s a screen capture of the UI sliders seen briefly in the video…
I seem vaguely to remember similar style experimental search interfaces, maybe ten years ago now.
But the sliders made me think I’d like to see Google offer such a set of fine-tuning sliders, to change a variety of their currently fixed or on/off search parameters. Although I guess that might then be gamed by the SEO hucksters to winkle out a few of the secrets of Google’s algorithm weightings.
Here’s a new group test of academic search tools for open access or otherwise free academic papers. It follows JURN’s recent large number of additions of ecology related sources. Specifically it looks for recent (2013-) work in a rapidly developing and important niche of marine science. The plastic-biodegrading microbes that live on the “plastisphere” (tiny sub-5mm fragments of plastic now found throughout much of the world’s oceans, in the surface layers or also embedded in seabed silt). At a pinch, I have sometimes accepted relevant recent work on oil biodegrading bacteria living in the oceans, when it seems to suggest mechanisms or pathways. None of these marginal acceptances occurred in JURN’s results, though, so this gives other search tools an advantage.
|JURN group test: marine microplastic biodegradation
January 2015. Searching for free full-text scientific articles, theses, reports or book chapters in English after 2012. Clicked through on possible results and evaluated.
|DOAJ||0||Used ‘Article’ search. 0 from zero results.|
|Paperity||0||0. Titles of first 25 results all strongly irrelevant.|
|Microsoft Academic||0||0 from five results.|
|OATD||0||0 from zero results.|
|JournalTOCS||0||0 from zero results.|
|Ingenta Connect||0||0 from one result. The one result was 2011’s initial paper “Interactions Between Microorganisms and Marine Microplastics: A Call for Research”, which proved to be paywalled at $28.|
|Journal Seek||0||0 from zero results.|
|Journal Click||0||The top result looked promising, the major report Microplastic Litter in the Dutch Marine Environment, but mentions of biodegradation were found to be very fleeting. One article from from GEOMAR required a Logon. Several results proved to be from allegedly predatory or suspect publishers. Two further prominent results were on tests for bioaccumulation of pollutants in estuary lugworms. After the first eight results, results appeared to lack focus on marine life.|
|OAlib||0||First result not relevant and proved, on clickthrough to full-text, to be “404 not found”. Second result’s full-text was from a completely different paper! The first page of results were all, anyway, from 2012 or earlier.|
|Digital Commons Network||0||I switched out of the Arts and Humanities section for this search. Had one result, not relevant. A simpler keyword search for | marine microplastic | gave only six results, none relevant.|
|BASE||0||One result, a 2014 thesis on the highly polluted North Sea that found that 5% of 290 gut samples from North Sea fish had ingested some microplastic, rising to 18% in mackerel. And yet… “No direct [health] effect could be recorded in individuals that had ingested microplastics”. But since there was no analysis of microbial degradation of the microplastic, the thesis was discounted.|
|Mendeley||1|| Searched ‘Articles’ only, then filtered for Open Access articles only. Three possible titles were investigated in the first 25 results, all from near the top of the first page. One was found to be on methods to determine microplastic ingestion in larger organisms. Another was on microplastic distribution patterns across the eastern Pacific. The third explored microbial success in breaking down petroleum hydrocarbons in the ocean through complex “interactions between bacteria, fungi and microalgae” in micro ecosystems. The latter was judged to be on-topic enough to count as a result.|
|CORE||1||Filtered search by English language, full-text only, and set date slider to 2012-2014. Looked at first three pages of results. One 2014 PLOS paper was tangentially on-topic, concluding that “microorganisms indigenous to Arctic seawater are capable of performing extensive biodegradation of chemically and physically dispersed oil at … -1°C”, and this was counted as a result. A 2013 PhD thesis discussed how lab studies could be extrapolated to rivers, reporting that “groups of PNP-degrading bacteria were detected” in samples from the River Dene in England. Though interesting, this paper was not counted as it was not about the oceans and the bacteria were not the focus.|
|OpenAIRE||1||Filtered for ‘English language’ | ‘Open Access’ | 2013 and 2014. Checked first page of results for each year. Top results in 2013 were mostly items previously encountered and discounted. One interesting 2013 paper from India found marine bacteria rapidly degraded the ‘sunset yellow’ dye pollutant released from textile industries, but the paper was discounted because it was not about plastics. The 2014 results had many papers about cleanup of oil spills by microbial life. The paper “The metabolic pathways and environmental controls of hydrocarbon biodegradation in marine ecosystems” had enough on-topic discussion to be counted. 2014’s PLOS paper “Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans”, although a good survey of the world’s plastisphere problem, had only a very fleeting mention of biodegradation, thus: “bacterial degradation [may] also contribute to the removal of small microplastics from the sea surface”|
|Google Search||1||Used a Web browser not signed in to Google. I had to force verbatim on “biodegradation” to get useful results. Examined first 30 of those results. Only one was post 2013 and free, “Life in the ‘Plastisphere': Microbial Communities on Plastic Marine Debris” (2013).|
|Google Scholar||3||Checked first page of results, most were from pre 2013. The first page of results did however surface the paper “Millimeter-sized marine plastics: a new pelagic habitat for microorganisms and invertebrates”, which presented evidence that bacteria are pitting and grooving on a range of ocean microplastics. This important paper became result No.2, after I switched to results “Since 2014″ (there was no “Since 2013″ option). The important comprehensive overview paper “The present and future of microplastic pollution in the marine environment” (2013) was also found to be available free in the “Since 2014″ results. As was 2014’s “Rapid bacterial colonization of low-density polyethylene microplastics in coastal sediment microcosms”.|
|OPENDoar||3||Examined first 20 results. Showing up on the first page were: “The spectroscopic detection and bacterial colonisation of synthetic microplastics in coastal marine sediments”; “Rapid bacterial colonization of low-density polyethylene microplastics in coastal sediment microcosms” and “Millimeter-Sized Marine Plastics: A New Pelagic Habitat for Microorganisms and Invertebrates”. Many later results were from before 2013.|
|JURN||6||Tested without keyword forcing (Google switches biodegradation to degradation) so as to be fair to OPENDoar, but still had good results. The list of the first 20 results is given below. Keyword forcing using “biodegradation” simply gave very similar results in a different order.|
JURN results, first 20 results. No keyword forcing.
Search for | marine microplastic biodegradation |
1. OUT OF DATE RANGE. Laboratory Test Methods to Determine the Degradation of Plastics in Marine Environmental Conditions (2012)
2. Isolation of microplastics in biota-rich seawater samples and marine organisms (2014)
3. Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments (2013)
4. OUT OF DATE RANGE. The spectroscopic detection and bacterial colonisation of synthetic microplastics in coastal marine sediments (2012)
5. High-levels of microplastic pollution in a large, remote, mountain lake [in Mongolia] (2014)
7. Isolation of microplastics in biota-rich seawater samples and marine organisms.
8. VALID. CIESM Workshop Monographs, No.46: Marine litter in the Mediterranean and Black Seas (2014). Contains three full-text papers: “Bacterial degradation of synthetic plastics” and “Microbial biodegradation of synthetic plastic polymers: state of the art and perspectives from the BIOCLEAN project” and “Surface properties of marine microplastics that affect their interaction with pollutants and microbes”. But this monograph was counted as a single result.
9. Proceedings of the GESAMP International Workshop on microplastic particles as a vector in transporting persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic substances in the oceans (2010)
12. VALID. The plastic-associated microorganisms of the North Pacific Gyre (2013)
14. VALID (BUT DUPLICATE). Rapid bacterial colonization of low-density polyethylene microplastics in coastal sediment microcosms (2014)
15. Monitoring the abundance of plastic debris in the marine environment (2009)
16. Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea (2014)
17. Marine litter within the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2013)
18. Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea (2014)
19. Leaching of plastic additives to marine organisms (2013)
20. Environmental implications of plastic debris in marine settings (2009)
Google News once again proved a somewhat useful source even without any keyword forcing, surfacing a manageable number of useful topical articles from as far back as 2013, such as:
* Fate of ocean plastic remains a mystery (Nature.com)
* Microscopic diatoms with taste for marine refuse could help clean up (South China Morning Post, reporting research).
* Microscopic creatures could be helping reduce marine garbage on the ocean (News International, reporting research).
However News also surfaced claims that plastic “doesn’t biodegrade” or never degrades, all in a range of low-grade news sources.
Do we need a unified tool for discovering online versions of primary history sources? THATCamp AHA 2015 has a proposed session on the need for new tools to find primary sources online.
Pinterest for chaps. If you’re registered as male, Pinterest now applies an auto-filter that draws other Pins by known male users to the top of the search results. It works well with a single keyword, but their search seems to go a bit haywire when two keywords are used. For instance, here are my top results for [ caps mens ] none of which is the kind of traditional Irish tweed outdoors cap or baseball cap that you might be looking for…
Amazon has launched KDP Edu…
Amazon’s new Kindle Textbook Creator Beta helps you convert PDFs of your textbooks, course notes, study guides and other educational content that includes complex visual information like charts, graphs and equations into Kindle books. Books created through Kindle Textbook Creator take advantage of features that enhance a student’s learning experience such as dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting and flashcards. Plus, preview your book across all supported devices.”
Highlighting is a technique of very dubious worth, on a par with hucksterisms such as ‘preferred learning styles’. A recent survey in Scientific American, of what has been robustly proven to work, stated of underlining and highlighting…
In controlled studies, highlighting has failed to help U.S. Air Force basic trainees, children and remedial students, as well as typical undergraduates. Underlining was ineffective regardless of text length and topic, whether it was aerodynamics, ancient Greek schools or Tanzania. In fact, it may actually hurt performance on some higher-level tasks.”
Flashcards are probably bad for English language learning at the infant/junior level, where actual active use of the language and reading of whole books is to be preferred. But cards do seem to be useful for undergraduates when used as quick prompts, enabling the recall and ‘sharpening up’ of key ideas encountered in recent reading or listening.
HEFCE report on Monographs and open access is out now…
The perception that academic books are not being read, or even read in depth, does not appear to be sustained by the evidence.”
A quick search and read-through of the main report shows no use of the words “index” or “indexing”, in the context of discovery. There are only fleeting and cursory mentions of “discovery”. Discovery for download-and-reading barely merits a full paragraph…
There appears to be disagreement about whether providing open access to a book without active measures to disseminate it is sufficient. … the rise of aggregation and distribution services for open-access books, as well as increasing sophistication in search engine technology and an ever-greater reliance among academics and others on the Web as a discovery tool, might help smaller operations to challenge the larger publishers … For policymakers this is a critical area of concern: a key benefit of open access is surely increased dissemination; if particular models are likely to fail in this regard, then the benefit could be lost.”
It would have been interesting to know if the current standard monograph practice requires that the author must submit a publicity and marketing plan along with their open monograph. That practice isn’t mentioned, so I wonder how often it happens in the UK. It seems a pity to overlook active paid-for marketing, of the sort that proper publishers take for granted. Especially when there might be an opportunity now to embed this widely for even the most diffident or overworked authors, potentially enhancing everything from the scholar’s career and the university’s standing through to the UK’s wider projection of ‘soft power’. So the report might have suggested (at least) a new flowchart / guide for planning some basic academic book marketing, and a requirement that it be completed and submitted along with the monograph. Something that would take just six hours to enact, by someone other than the author (one has to factor in how utterly sick of a book an author can be by the time it’s completed, and how they just want to see the back of it). Asking for specifics such as a list of Facebook groups and listservs etc; contacts for likely book reviewers; magazine and newsletter contacts for tailored press releases; ‘local author writes book’ local newspaper contacts (since their stories, naff though they may be in tone, show up in Google News); niche radio and podcast interview possibilities, and so on. Such a one-day publication-day campaign might then most usefully be handed off to a freelance marketeer on oDesk for $350 or so, rather than be dumped on someone who either lacks the skills or doesn’t have the time.
Note that there’s also an “Annex 3: Patterns of scholarly communication in the humanities and social sciences” for the report…
Humanities and social science researchers also seem to make significant use of relatively old content, compared to other disciplines. Tenopir et al (2012) find that around half of the ‘last articles read’ in the critical incident component of their survey were more than 6.5 years old; a quarter were more than 15 years old.”
Fontanus : from the collections of McGill University (annual scholarly journal from McGill librarians, on the special collections there)
Folia Malacologica (snails)
Malacologica Bohemoslovaca (snails in Eastern Europe)
Tentacle (snail conservation)
Mollusc World (Two year paywall, Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland)
Boletim do Museu Municipal do Funchal (Island of Madeira and vicinity)
Bocagiana (Island of Madeira and vicinity)
Acta Horti Botanici Bucurestiensis (Eastern European plants)
Paper History (International Association of Paper Historians)
Studia Orientalia Electronica (Finnish Oriental Society)
Entomologica Fennica (insects of the Palaearctic)
Memoranda Societatis pro Fauna et Flora Fennica (fauna and flora of the Palaearctic)
Dædalus : Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Has about a third of the recent issues free in PDF, and the majority of issues free before 2010. Not to be confused with the Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
IARC Monographs series which surveys suspected and known carcinogens.
NEH and Mellon will give [$1m in] grants to publishers to identify great humanities books [in copyright, but out-of-print], secure all appropriate rights, and make them available for free, forever, under a Creative Commons license [as .ePub files …] Books proposed under the Humanities Open Book program must be of demonstrable intellectual significance and broad interest to current readers.”
“On the visibility of Empirische Sonderpadagogik: a bibliometric analysis” (2014) examines how well Google Scholar covers seven German ‘special educational needs’ journals. It’s in German with a complex table but Google Scholar Digest kindly presents the article’s core findings in a more user-friendly format…
Google Scholar Digest also reports that the researchers found…
Only one of the [titles] is present in Web of Science, and two of them are in Scopus.”
This wasn’t a test of Open Access visibility, since on a quick investigation it seems the chosen titles are all paywalled. Three are published by Reinhardt Verlag, which are the journals indexed at 100% or very near by Google Scholar. Which to me suggests that for larger publishers Scholar may be doing a much better indexing job than Web of Science or Scopus. Google Search itself sees all of them, if only at the title/abstract level.
Psychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht (Paywalled)
Empirische Padagogik (Paywalled, TOCs seem to be Web-accessible only via their listings on PubPsych)
Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik (Paywalled)
Heilpädagogische Forschung (Paywalled)
Full-text papers and free publications of The Design Society (Seems to be mostly engineering and industrial design, in case you were wondering why a website for designers has a logo/template that looks so mundane)