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.”
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)
Libraccess on GitHub. Aiming for…
1. Harvesting and indexing of documents, data and code contained in open access repositories, using their APIs.
2. Supply of services based on this index: search of documents, authors, university profiles…
Series registration is free and includes: Email notification of new resources added to the Series (starting January 2015); Access to practical Blog items; A free PDF report with selected premium articles (publication March 2015); Registration for the FreePint Newsletter.”
Freer|Sackler [have] become the first Smithsonian museums to digitize their collections. […] 40,000+ works as high-resolution images […] available for non-commercial use by anyone.”
Semantic Scholar is a very elegantly designed new academic search tool in computer science, a designer re-skinning of the ACL Anthology Reference Corpus article records (yes, the ACL’s ARC articles are already included in JURN). So far as I can tell, there are no other computer science article records or PDFs being ripped from other sources into Semantic Scholar, though I guess Semantic Scholar may widen its scope in future.
Beall’s List 2015, now available. 693 “Potential, possible, or probable predatory” publishers listed.
An A-Z of Egyptology Books and Articles in PDF, with the URLs freshly collected and checked by the University of Memphis. In progress since December 2013 it seems, and now becoming more substantial. It’s only linking to free PDFs…
Sites which require institutional access or a password are not included — thus journals on JSTOR have not been indexed. Nor have papers available on http://www.academia.edu or http://www.ifao.egnet.net/bifao/ (BIFAO) been included here.”
Since their A-Z is a handy single page, I can make an on-the-fly Google CSE from the list, allowing a measure of full-text searching within the 3,600 selected PDFs. Not ideal, though, as an on-the-fly CSE picks up other PDFs stored on the same auto-truncated URLs, thus including paywalled items at big sites like Springer etc. A full hand-made Google CSE would be needed for a precise focus.
Where “150,000 European and American intellectuals were born and died over the span of the last two millennia”, mapped onto the USA. New England and New York light up as if struck by blazing comets from the Old World. Then there’s a great vaulting across the American heartlands and over to the West Coast, where they are impacted by comets of brilliance coming in from Asia. See the map animated over time, here.
The new book-length Humanities World Report 2015 is now available for download in Kindle or PDF…
“The first of its kind, this ‘Report’ gives an overview of the humanities worldwide. Published as an Open Access title and based on an extensive literature review and enlightening interviews conducted with 90 humanities scholars across 40 countries, the book offers a first step in attempting to assess the state of the humanities globally.”
Some nicely pithy comments from interviewees throughout, drawn from interviews undertaken since 2011. But, rather oddly, a quick search of the body of the book for the phrase “open access” reveals not a single mention.
I had some fun boiling the report’s recommendations down to:
* Truth | [attempt to] reinstate confidence in the humanities as truth finding disciplines [and convey that] we do generate answers, as well as questions.
* Experience | position the humanities as the guardian of human diversity, [a] unique repository of knowledge and insight into the rich diversity of the human experience, past and present.
* Impact | [encourage] support systems for effective[ly and meaningfully conveying one’s work to wider audiences than just peers and students. Add] incentives to encourage more academics to engage in [this].
* Digital bridges | digital humanities experts [should] start the process of bridge-building [with those who either fear or don’t see the potential of digital humanities]. [We should also gently push supervisors for better] training [of] the next generation of humanists [enabling them to] exploit the potential of digital technologies and methods.
* Interdisciplinary (when it works) | not all research requires [a strong] quest for interdisciplinarity [and so it] should not be treated as an end in itself [by funders]. [We should be more aware of the contexts where] interdisciplinary [research] does have considerable [demonstrable] value [and learn how to break down] significant institutional barriers [to unlock that value]. [University] promotion criteria should be reformed so as to give due weight to interdisciplinary research [thus making it less] risky in terms of publication and career advancement.
* Integrity | increased scrutiny of [large funding programmes] to see how well they maintain academic freedom alongside [their role in government] decision-making [and validation of completed government schemes].
* Exploration | humanists should not typically be expected to answer the [“what use is this apparently useless research?”] question.
* Nomadics | there is a crying need for experiment over and above the traditional university and its disciplinary divides.
* Expeditions | [we need major new long-term] integrative platforms as spaces for networking, capacity building and preparation of research on questions [which aid the] understanding [of] the human condition. [These would go far beyond the existing traditional advanced] centres and institutes, visiting fellowships and stakeholder interaction [initiatives]. They might identify [what we don’t know] and what we might know [if the funding and will and focus were enough to] lower the barriers between the human, the social and the natural sciences, [and if researchers were allowed to pay no] regard to national priorities.
On that last point, the 10,000-year perspective and vigourous autonomy of The Long Now Foundation springs immediately to mind. They are, effectively, an expedition to the future.
On both the Impact and “what use is this apparently useless research?” points, I would have suggested a role for a new type of naturally inquisitive ‘curator and explicator’. Someone able to naturally pick up and draw out such tenuous or obscured connections, and from across a wide range of disparate research. Such a unique matchmaking/publicist role would rise far above the low orbit of a university’s PR department, or the middle manager who routinely bundles researchers into funding-worthy projects. Such a role would need a rare combination of curious journalist, art curator, brilliant academic, political operator and publicist.
A Pirate Bay for news, it seems: Daily Paywall. An admirably spartan design, at least. Admirable motives, not so much.
Aeon magazine has a very nice new Save to Instapaper drop-down on its articles, which might usefully be copied by ejournals offering articles in HTML.
Compare the blissful ease of doing this with the impossibility of saving Digital Arts magazine’s new 2015 creative trends survey article to Instapaper. Impossible because of the database-driven URL structure, which loathsomely uses ? in the URL to spawn a new page hanging off of a static URL. I ended up having to copy-paste to a .txt file and then used Amazon’s Send to Kindle desktop software. I guess Digital Arts are assuming their younger clear-eyed readers are going straight to the page on an iPad, rather than needing the ‘old-eyes friendly’ font-scaling on a Kindle.
No mention of this Aeon button on the Instapaper official blog in 2014, so I’m guessing it’s custom to the editors, probably wrapped up in a WordPress widget or similar. But their little button looks like it can be fairly easily implemented in a DIV in your HTML code…
The Google News team has re-enabled the lost archives feature, for searching newspaper archives as far back as 2003…
Great news — we’ve re-enabled archives search! Our team listened to all your feedback you left here in the forum, and was hard at work to bring you an even better archive experience. From all the posts we received, we heard loud and clear how important these archives are to our users. You can now go digging back in time to 2003. Search on :)”
A new embedded search tool for non-fiction writers, Bing Insights for MS Office. It only seems to work in MS Office Live, rather than as a plugin for older desktop installations of Office. Sadly I just couldn’t find the Insights feature at all in Office Live, when I went to test it. So perhaps it’s not yet been rolled out the UK.
But it seems a neat idea, meaning that checking a basic fact no longer entails bouncing out of Word and into a Web browser. The search process also apparently inherits semantic nudges, drawn from the other words and phrases detected in the document. One wonders if the semantic data that Microsoft gain from this will, in time, improve the Bing Search service itself.
I’d expect the Open Source Office software suites to add this sort of fact-checking feature to their Word Processor soon, if they haven’t already (I couldn’t immediately find something similar for Open Office, LibreOffice, etc). Although their natural choice of partner, Wikipedia, might not be the most trustworthy source of facts.
A key element of online search literacy appears to be going backward, rather than forward. Results from 1,200 U.S. librarians surveyed in May 2014 appear to show a …
… 29.3 percent increase, over the past two years, in the perception that students have a rudimentary understanding of web evaluation. “[…] librarians feel students are now using the open web for research less than they did in 2012,” the report says, “[and] when students are on the open web, their evaluation skills are more lackluster.” […] 36.1 percent of the students surveyed felt that they had an advanced understanding of website evaluation, whereas only two percent of librarians considered their students to have a high degree of skill in the same area.”
The respondents were librarians from across the core educational spectrum, from elementary through to four-year academic institutions. 31 percent were based in high schools.