Welcome to Online Insider ...
... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Finding Guidance

Marydee Ojala @ 10:07 am

Well, I made it to Washington and CIL, but it was much longer than the short distance should have warranted, all thanks to weather. For commentary on CIL, check the ITI conference blog .

I had a note from bq alerting me to a corporate name change. Find SVP is now Guideline . So the company is no longer finding information, it’s guiding us to it? Interesting. From the description of the company’s business at its Web site, the name change doesn’t seem to indicate any major change in business model. There’s just no more “if you please” about it.

First Day of Spring

Marydee Ojala @ 4:30 pm

Today’s the first day of spring, so the weather forecasters are predicting nine inches of snow tonight and tomorrow. Great. And I’m leaving (or not) tomorrow afternoon for Computers in Libraries — wish me luck. I was going to say I was slated to leave tomorrow and see if anyone got the somewhat obscure American/UK English usage joke.

I’ve been really busy, putting together the May/June issue of ONLINE . For those of you who didn’t think the cover on the March/April issue was all that great (yes, I got letters), I’m hoping you’ll like this one. I do. The issue’s got a Mary Ellen Bates’ review of Factiva’s Search 2.0 and a column by Greg Notess on “The Terrible Two’s” which picks up on that 2.0 meme. We’re also running a story on Intranet 2.0 and another on XSLT, which doesn’t mention 2.0 anywhere in it.

Then there’s the upcoming Buying & Selling eContent conference, where I’m moderating two sessions and trying to get that all organized. Should be a great conference and it doesn’t snow in Scottsdale.

Snow. Spring. Phooey.

Charleston’s Take on Scopus Quality

Marydee Ojala @ 10:00 am

Paula pointed out to me that The Charleston Advisor ran a review of Scopus in its January 2006 issue, which is an update to the original review that ran a year earlier. The authors, Louise F. Deis and David Goodman, call Scopus “the Database we hope to love when it grows up.” Their main criticism is missing data even from journals published after 1996 (Scopus acknowledges gaps in the pre-1996 materials). One of their tests revealed that, of the 11 journals tested, 3 were corrected, 3 partially correct, and 5 uncorrected. Two other tests revealed startling gaps, particularly in European journals. They’re estimating that “about 10% of the titles are incomplete for the recent years.”

To be honest, this wasn’t what disturbed me most about the article. It was the reaction of librarians to the situation. They pushed Elsevier to change the default date parameters from “1996 to present” (which is the more complete portion of the database) to “all years” (which means lots more incomplete answers to searches). Why are not information professionals more concerned about the quality of the answers? Why are they not warning Scopus users that this is but one source to check, since it doesn’t have everything the students are likely to believe it has? Or, as Deis and Goodman conclude, is it really true that “our librarian colleagues are not concerned about supplying incomplete data or even about deliberately guiding students to incomplete data”? I find that truly shocking.

Scopus is exhibiting at Computers in Libraries week after next, if you want to go ask them about this.

Scopus, World of Science, Google Scholar and Quality

Marydee Ojala @ 11:51 am

Last Friday I interviewed Scopus’ Amanda Spiteri, who kindly gave me a userid and password to Scopus . She talked about the importance of “who’s citing who,” as she put it, and the technical difficulties in getting accurate matching algorithms, particularly when scientific papers don’t contain the world’s best bibliographies. Scientists are more interested in doing research than in creating beautiful bibliographies. She told me that most purchasers are content with a 10-year backfile, something that surprised me. We also wondered about the importance, going forward, of high impact journals, particularly with the increasing importance of open access journals and institutional repositories, and the quality issues implicit in the retraction of scientific papers, even from well-known journals such as Science .

After our conversation, I began thinking about how difficult it is to compare citation products. There’s been a lot written comparing Scopus’ Citation Tracker with Thomson ISI’s Web of Science . A few throw Google Scholar into their reviews. Barbara Quint contributed a Newsbreak last January. Peter Jacso chimed in with a very thoughtful and well-researched article. Cheryl LaGuardia compared Scopus and WoS for Library Journal .

It seems to me you can compare subject coverage, date ranges, interface design, search functionality, number of journals, type of format (citation, abstract, full text), number of hits resulting from a search, and cost. What you can’t systematically determine is quality of results. For that, we only have anecdotal evidence. Here’s one small anecdote.

Assured by Amanda that searching for yourself isn’t entirely a vanity search – many academics do it in support of grant applications – I checked both Scopus and WoS to see if anyone has cited my articles in ONLINE . Interestingly, I found that one of my editorials was cited both by an article in Medical Teacher and one in Teaching and Learning in Medicine. This fascinated me. What had I said that was of interest to medical teachers? But I became even more intrigued when Scopus said the editorial cited was “Information Professionals as Technologists,” from the July-August 2002 issue of ONLINE, while WoS disagreed, telling me it was “Excising Information,” published in the May-June 2002 issue of ONLINE. At least they agreed on the year.

I popped over to Google Scholar to see what it had to say. You can’t do citation searching at Google Scholar, but I did want to know if the medical journals were included there. On my first try, I could find only one of the articles in question. I was searching on author name. When I searched on words in the article title, the other one surfaced. Then I realized, once again, that online searching requires constant relearning and recalibration. I’ve been so thoroughly trained over the years by ISI to disregard first names, since its citation files only use surnames and first initials, that I never though to do the search any other way. To ISI, John Jones, Jane Jones, and James Jones are all JONES J. Not Google Scholar. I’d been searching for SB Issenberg, but in Google Scholar, he appears as S Barry Issenberg. Lesson learned.

But I still didn’t know which of my editorials had really been cited in those articles. To find out, I went to EBSCOhost’s Academic Search Elite. Both articles were included. Reading them, I determined that Scopus had the correct citation, Web of Science the incorrect one. I wouldn’t draw much in the way of conclusions from this, since it’s only one small anecdote, but it highlights how skeptical we information professionals need to be when searching for information from even the most reputable of producers.

Looking Ahead to CIL

Marydee Ojala @ 2:22 pm

Seems like I just returned from NFAIS and I’m already thinking about the next conference, which is Computers in Libraries . Although it’s not the sexiest conference title around, it accurately reflects the themes presented during the 3 days. Plus, some of the individual session titles are really imaginative — “Keeping One Click Ahead” (Gary Price, Genie Tyburski, and Rita Vine), “Meet the Grokkers” (David Vose, Kate Bouman, and Alesia McManus, “Failing to Innovate is Not an Option” (Jill Hurst-Wahl), “Taxonomy Tales” (Jennifer Evert and Marjorie Hlava), “Scanning for Planning” (Alane Wilson), and “Is Google the Next Dialog?” (K. Matthew Dames) are a few that caught my eye. Other titles are more utilitarian, but the session descriptions look interesting.

If anybody wants to schedule a meeting with me, like to discuss an article you’re interested in contributing to ONLINE, just let me know. I’ll be there the entire three days.

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