Archive for category: Reading

AcaWiki: a wiki that encourages academics to write their stuff for the general public

October 8th, 2009 by jose

AcaWiki is a new wiki aimed at academics. They are asking for summaries of academic research. This could be an excellent exercise for students (i.e., don’t hand me your paper: post it to acaWiki, and let me know when I can look at it).

From reading the FAQ, It’s not clear to me that they are selling it right to the academic community:

What does AcaWiki offer to academic researchers?

AcaWiki offers a web 2.0 way of interacting with the public to increase impact. Research often languishes in academic journals, perhaps read only a few times by infrequent visitors. AcaWiki allows scholars to increase the impact of their research by enabling them to share summaries, long abstracts and literature reviews of their peer-reviewed work online. AcaWiki also encourages discussion by providing a talk page for each research paper.

Hmm, meh. While these are interesting reasons, I doubt academics will rush to fill in summaries. Discussion is covered by reference management sites such as citeUlike. And, of course, to make this work for academics, contributions to acaWiki must be well-evaluated by hiring committees… which is not going to happen any time soon. When faced when the decision of adding one more line to their CV or dedicating a similar stretch of time doing summaries of their articles for acaWiki, what would most academics do?

I still think this could fill a nice niche for student homework. Instead of leaving their work hidden in the HD of their T.A., posting it to acaWiki could be of use to the community. I often have to reread a paper because I’ve forgot most about it, and a good, crowd-refined summary would definitely help.

False Epiphany: Incompletion, 15 Causes and Solutions

August 7th, 2009 by jose

Just a quick one to highlight The False Prophet. S/he presents a list of reasons why things don’t get done, together with Preventive measures and solutions.

This is quite a finding. Example:

4. Distraction (…)

Preventive measures
When you commit to a project, set a daily/weekly schedule. Consistent time-structure is what gets projects done that last longer than the excitement of inspiration. Working on the project first thing in the morning is one way to head off distraction.
Set up your own status meetings, just as with “dependency”, since, in a way, you are depending on yourself to deliver. Having a regular status meeting with a friend (say, in a phone call) can keep you on track.
See “attention overload”, below.
Solutions (to be used after you’ve gotten distracted)
The 5M method. Note the time. Think of a tiny task that you think you can complete in five minutes. Give yourself an hour to do it. You can do the task right now, and then slack off. You can wait until five minutes are left in the hour and then rush. Odds are, once you do this tiny task, you’ll feel different. You’ll have some momentum. Your brain will now be returning to the work you want to do instead of the distraction. Or perhaps not. You can still slack off the rest of the hour if you prefer. A deal’s a deal.

He also has an interesting post on ‘how to fix grad school’. I like the way he presents arguments, and then tries to shut them down.

False Epiphany» Blog Archive » Incompletion: 15 Causes and Solutions

RWW on Elsevier’s Prototype: Is This The Scientific Article of the Future?

July 26th, 2009 by jose

Looks like Elsevier experiments on how to present scientific papers are starting to get coverage  (on RWW no less)Elsevier1.

The basic novelty here is real time search, but everything is peppered with other webby things like comments and AJAX.

The key features of the concept are here, and one can play with working prototypes. They are asking for feedback. I must say this is head and shoulders over reading a pdf on the screen. As highlights: (1) A figure that contains clickable areas so that it can be used as a navigation mechanism to directly access specific sub-sections of the results and figures, (2) references are clustered by sections of the paper they appeared in, and hot-linked.

However, it’s not clear if this kind of effort is just cosmetic or actually an important change. From the RWW article:

Some parts of the available prototypes are interesting but opinion in the scientific community seems split. Is this ground-breaking stuff or yesterday’s news repackaged by another industry threatened by the web? That depends on who you ask.

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

July 6th, 2009 by jose

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.

How to digitize your entire paper book collection

June 13th, 2009 by jose

This post describes a very efficient way to digitize large amounts of books. Why is this important? If you are an academic you (1) have amassed a large collection of books and (2) are bounded to relocate more than a few times iimg_0295 n your life. Moving books is no fun. Plus being able to grep through your books, and read them even if you are away from home (conference, coffee shop, retreat) is really priceless.