Archive for category: News

SciSurfer: real-time search on journal articles

May 5th, 2010 by

Imagine a world where real-time search is the norm. You will get just the information you seek landing on your lap the exact minute it becomes available, without you having to explicitly search for it. Will this change the way you do science? SciSurfer thinks it will.

The release cycle of scientific knowledge is slow. It may take up to 2 years for a paper to get accepted in a journal. The publishing process in itself will add a buffer of a few months (arguably because of the time cost of having a paper edition, even though most people will never use it). So, for some of us, it doesn’t feel like we are missing much if we do not get the latest updates on our field the very same minute they are published. Just going to conferences yearly feels like more than enough. But there is a portion of the academia that needs constant updates on their field, as close to real-time as possible. If you are in the life sciences, getting the latest paper about a molecule or a gene you work on before your competitor does may make or break your career.

For those academics, sciSurfer may be a very valuable tool. The basic idea of sciSurfer is to integrate all journal feeds and search over them. Note that they do not archive RSS, so only the latest articles are available. This is a different way to think about search, closer to twitter’s than to Google’s.



Tenure denial starts shooting, kills three. Columbine in the academia?

February 14th, 2010 by

This is a quick note that may not surprise most people. Amy Bishop, at University of Alabama  Huntsville, just killed three colleagues and injured some more. It seems that this act may be related to having been denied tenure.  A PhD from Harvard, Amy Bishop had grants, and sat in a startup board, which are traces of a successful academic career. She was also a mother of four. Can your academic job environment be so toxic as to motivate murder? She was possibly suffering major depression at the time of the incident, and other mental health issues.

The evidence that an academic career is too stressing is piling up. An academic deals with rejection very often, from both peers and students, gets paid like a boy scout, and works every waking hour. This should be a waking call to all academics that feel tenure is the center of their lives.

A Previous Shooting Death at the Hands of Alabama Suspect –

UPDATE: removed wrong photo.

Blogging is not (serious) writing, and that’s a good thing

September 19th, 2009 by

Is blogging writing? Of course! You say. I would have said the same, before I encountered Jaron Lanier’s essay:

The question of new business models for content creators on the Internet is a profound and difficult topic in itself, but it must at least be pointed out that writing professionally and well takes time and that most authors need to be paid to take that time. In this regard, blogging is not writing. For example, it’s easy to be loved as a blogger. All you have to do is play to the crowd. Or you can flame the crowd to get attention. Nothing is wrong with either of those activities. What I think of as real writing, however, writing meant to last, is something else. It involves articulating a perspective that is not just reactive to yesterday’s moves in a conversation.

What he means is simply that what ‘serious writing’ is about may well have nothing to do with blogging. Blogging is closer to stream-of-conciousness, barely any revisions; ‘serious writing’ for an academic paper implies maybe three paragraphs a day (depending on how much you know the topic!), lots of going back-and-forth with collaborators, and attention to wording that would make a lawyer look sloppy.

(more…) an interesting way to see trends in science

July 6th, 2009 by

Maybe I’m getting out of touch, but it’s only now that I found sciencewatch. It’s a service of Thomson Reuters (the makers of Web of Science) that collects and displays statistics on recent trends in science. Example:08-augtt-SOC

Aug 2008 – SCHOLARLY USE OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB – Research Front Map –

This is a citation network that shows highly cited papers on WWW. Diameter relates to citation: the two bigger circles are the paper that proposed the Hirsch index, and King’s paper on the scientific impact of nations. Clicking on the circles provides details on the papers.

There are many other fronts:

  • Fast Breaking papers. These papers comprise the top 1% of papers in each field and each year
  • Top Topics selects the Research Fronts with the largest absolute increase in size in each of the 22 major fields covered by Essential Science Indicators

Worth keeping an eye on.

Lawsuit over open-source Zotero dismissed

June 7th, 2009 by

Good news for FOSS and the entire industry, really. Thomson Reuters claim didn’t hold on court. In an ecosystem where all competitors are launching new creative features every day (Mendeley, Zotero, citeSmart, jabRef, etc), development of endNote seems glacial.

EndNote maker’s lawsuit over open-source Zotero dismissed – Ars Technica