Library

Showing posts with label research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label research. Show all posts

23 January 2017

Statista – a new source of data

Subject Librarian David Horne tells us in this article about an online statistics portal that can provide very useful information for many areas of research.  



Statista is a portal for data relevant to business, economics, media and social topics, with international coverage. Its content, ease of use and range of output options make it a key Library resource to consult when seeking data for written assignments, presentations and lectures.

The data encompasses statistics, forecasts, industry reports, dossiers (topic overviews), studies, and infographics. Statista’s intuitive search interface provides easy sorting and filtering of results, and links to the information providers for a given search result.  An example of the kind of clear information Statista provides is given in the graph below showing the change in the number worldwide Internet users between 2006 and 2016.

Data can be customised using Statista’s style options, and exported in PNG, XLS, PDF or PPT formats. This allows easy inclusion of images and data from Statista in presentations and documents.

Access Statista from its record in Search, or from the Databases A-Z menu. http://guides.lib.monash.edu/subject-databases


Can’t find the data you need? Consult your library’s Research & Learning Point or local Faculty Team librarian. http://www.monash.edu/library/skills/contacts


An example of a Statista graph, available to Monash staff and students.






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3 January 2017

SAGE Research Methods Online

Undertaking research for a project is an exciting prospect - but it can also be intimidating, especially when starting out, says librarian Romney Adams. SAGE Research Methods Online (SRMO) is a powerful tool researchers can use throughout their journey - from familiarising yourself with methodological concepts via the Methods Map, to materials designed to inform your practice.


For new researchers, a fascinating place to begin is with the Methods Map - an interactive component of SRMO which allows you to ‘drill down’ to a set of methodologies that may best suit your needs. For example, perhaps you are undertaking a qualitative study, but are unsure of the data collection options available to you. Using the Methods Map, you can obtain an overview of a number of qualitative data collection methods - including ethnography, narrative research, and interviewing - and determine which may be best-suited to your needs. Or, perhaps you’d like to learn more about research design? Again, using the Methods Map, you can explore different research design theories and principles - including phenomenology, longitudinal research, and systematic reviews. You can choose to get a basic overview, or drill down to more specific information concerning these types of research design.

When beginning your research, you can move on and access some of the materials housed in SRMO. These include case study examples from researchers in the field, video tutorials showing chosen research methods in action, and full-text items. SRMO houses over 1,000 academic books, reference works, and journal articles, all with full-text online access - with a particular strength in the social sciences. To access these materials, enter your search terms into the simple box on the SRMO homepage - you’ll be able to tweak your search by specifying date ranges, material types, and other limiters once your results have been returned.

By running a simple search on ‘ethnography’, for example, you can then refine the returned materials by using the limiters. This will make the results more relevant to your needs - from ~4,000 items relating to ‘ethnography’, to ~150 eBooks relating specifically to ethnographic research in the field of education, published in the last 10 years. As you can see, a quick and easy way to be connected to high-quality materials!

If you think your search is complex, just use the Advanced option to use multiple terms and construct a more robust approach to exploring SRMO’s collections.

SAGE Research Methods Online can be found through Library Search, and Databases A-Z.

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2 December 2016

ASTM online standards collection

Hilary Luxford, subject librarian, explains how to use the ASTM online standards available through the Library's databases.


Standards in  materials are important in construction 
A range of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) publications is available to staff and students. After logging in through the Library’s ASTM Digital Library, users need to create their own profile to use these particular collections, ASTM standards through 'IHS Standards Expert' and a wide range of other ASTM publications through the 'Digital Library' interface.

About American Society for Testing and Materials

ASTM, began in 1898 and has become one of the largest standard bodies with offices worldwide, now known as ASTM International, written by experts for experts. ASTM standards and allied publications main users are from the engineering fields which include: aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, environmental, geological, health and safety, industrial, materials science, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum, soil science and solar engineering but also used by other STEM disciplines.

Why do we need standards?

“Standards are documents setting out specifications, procedures and guidelines”.  Forty percent of ASTM standards are updated annually, and now Monash staff and students can access the latest standards 24/7, anywhere from lab or home. Formerly, researchers had to visit the Library to consult individual volumes, which because of their value, could not be removed from the Library, copyright law would not allow users to scan or photocopy the entire standard.

Users are now able to access the active standards online, and download a copy for their research and study purposes.

Two different platforms

ASTM standards (1931 to present) can be searched also from the 'Digital Library' interface which has useful features for searching exclusive to this interface. If searching for standards for a particular area, where the title/number is unknown, the 'Digital Library' search interface may be more effective, but also a reconnection to 'IHS Standards Expert' will be required to access the full-text of the 'active' standards. One of the peculiarities of this platform is that to access ‘IHS Standards Expert’ will require you to log out, log in again and go to the ‘IHS Standards Expert’ heading in order to access the full text of the standards.

About the ASTM Digital Library

ASTM Digital Library is accessed by choosing ASTM Digital Library, then Digital Library after logging in and registering. ASTM Digital Library provides full text to a range of publications including:
  • eBooks and manuals
  • symposia papers, and peer reviewed papers known as 'Special Technical Papers' which address the latest research from which the standards are developed
  • journals
  • data series
  • bulletins containing technical papers
  • retrospective proceedings (1909-1965).
Hover the mouse over these publications to see a description of the publication.

In addition, the ASTM Digital Library interface searches but does not provide full-text to the ASTM standards, but the search features unique to this interface such as the ‘Refine the results’ options may be advantageous if the user wants to explore standards by combining one or more of the following :
  • category such as materials, properties, test methods and the like
  • technical committee – these specialise in areas such as ‘Corrosion of Metals’ that produced the information in the publications eg. Corrosion of Metals, Concrete and Concrete Aggregates
  • topic eg. consumer product safety and evaluation
  • industry sector, such as ‘building and construction’, ‘mining and mineral processing’
  • date range.
These same filters/options for refinement can be combined to search for the other publication types available on this interface as outlined previously.

In addition to the ‘Refine your results’ options outlined, these filters can be combined or searched separately with the search box located above labelled 'ASTM Compass'. This enables search functions such as search for keywords within a type of publication or you may choose the ‘Advanced Search’ to search within Titles, abstracts or the full text

The ‘Advanced Search’ is useful for searching for known elements of a particular publication eg. DOI, author details, which can be combine with keywords

Searching ASTM standards accessed from the ASTM IHS interface


Here you can locate and access the ASTM standards in full-text for ‘active’ standards. Retrospective standards can be searched on this interface, but only the record will be provided. A search option for a known standard, "ASTM C1582/C1582M-11 Standard Specification for Admixtures to Inhibit Chloride-Induced Corrosion of Reinforcing Steel in Concrete” could be simply searched by the prefix ‘ASTM C1582’ in the document number box. After locating the record, you can view the ‘Document Details’ tab where you can view ‘Document abstract’, Document history which shows the earlier and
current versions. The full-text of active standards can be accessed by scrolling down to the ‘Document History’ and clicking on the blue page icon , or alternatively choosing the ‘View Document’ tab at the top of the screen. To locate standards that reference or relate to your standard, eg., "ASTM C1582/C1582M-11”, choose the ‘Related Documents’ tab.

Also from the ‘IHS interface’ you can also search within titles, abstracts, and within the full-text, referred to as ‘All document text’. Another key feature of this interface is the ability to alert users to the when a particular standard has been updated, referred to as ‘Watch list’.

Getting help

Please contact your subject librarian if you would like any further details:
  • Ms Nhan Le, subject librarian for Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering. Email: Nhan.Le@monash.edu
  • Ms Hilary Luxford, subject librarian for Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, Materials Engineering. Email: Hilary.Luxford@monash.edu
To find out more about standards resources at Library refer to the Standards guide.

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1 December 2016

Writing in books: Marginalia in the Rare Books Collection

When you are reading for study or pleasure, do you underline words, highlight parts of the text or draw asterisks next to important lines? Do you write notes to yourself in the margin to clarify what you’ve just read or to remind yourself of an idea that the passage has brought up? If you are using an ebook or reading an article online, do you use the annotate tool to highlight passages or to create notes? Perhaps you annotate as a way of replying to the author or to question, approve, or refute his or her viewpoint.  If you do any of these things, you may not have realised it, but you have been engaging in the scholarly process of creating marginalia.  By Lauren Buchanan



Recently, a conference on marginalia - Marginal Notes: Social Reading and the Literal Margins - was held at the State Library of Victoria in conjunction with Monash University and University of Otago’s Centres for the Book. It included a masterclass where participants could bring and discuss examples encountered in their work or study, learn about different kinds of annotation, and consider the underlying meaning and significance of the practice. Attending the conference led me to consider the examples of marginal notes I have seen in the Rare Books Collection at Monash and pick out just a few favourites to share. These items are available for you to view in the Special Collections Reading Room at Sir Louis Matheson Library, Clayton. (Note: The library is currently closed, reopening on 30 January 2017.)

Marginalia is generally produced as part of the reading and studying process (Jackson, 2001) and can also serve a communicative function (Fajkovic & Björneborn, 2014). Annotations to the text can act as an imaginary conversation between the reader and the author, as well as initiating an ongoing conversation between subsequent readers of the marginalia. Once they have been written, “marginalia become physical artefacts, whose function is a constant and inseparable part of both the text and the physical book” (Fajkovic & Björneborn, 2014, p. 914).

In the realm of marginalia, there are many different kinds of markings. From an innocuous pencil underline of a keyword to the vertical line next to a paragraph indicating its importance; from an exclamatory “No!” scrawled by an outraged reader to an earnestly written argument debunking the author’s viewpoint in the margin of the page. Stars, asterisks, curly brackets, scribbles, doodles, sketches, even the elegant outline of a hand with a finger or fingers pointing to specific parts of the text, known as a manicule, are all marks of marginalia.

Decoding handwritten annotations

The first image is an example from one of our manuscripts, probably written in France during the eighteenth century. A professional scribe was employed to transcribe Jean de la Fontaine’s Transformation metallique, trois anciens tractez en rithme francoise (Paris: Guillaume Gillard, 1561) and an extract of Le roman de la rose by Jean de Meung (c.1240). The manuscript’s owner has interacted with the text by underlining important passages, inserting a curly bracket to emphasise another passage, writing extensive notes in the margins, and also excising large passages by crossing them out. The reader has also drawn a manicule in the left-hand margin, a name that comes from the Latin maniculum, meaning "little hand”. Manicules originated in the scribal tradition of the medieval and Renaissance period and functioned as punctuation marks to signal corrections or notes. They were later used as a printer’s typographical symbol to mark notes and also act as a means of signifying noteworthy passages and in advertising displays (Houston, 177).

The next item that caught my eye is an edition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Du contrat social, ou, Principes du droit politique (Strasbourg: De l'Impr. de la Société typographique, 1791). Our edition has an ownership inscription on the front cover that reads, “A. Lewis Parkes” and contains a number of handwritten annotations. Unlike the previous example, in which marginalia accompanies the text throughout, the Rousseau edition has only been annotated on the front and preliminary papers and the endpapers. This particular example also highlights one of the problems inherent in decoding handwritten annotations. Sometimes, the handwriting is extremely difficult to read and its meaning and significance remains opaque. Interpreting marginalia can often prove a tantalising but frustrating and difficult task!

 The last two examples of marginalia are both connected to the author Jonathon Swift. This image is from a pamphlet with a rather interesting lineage. Swift’s pamphlet, The Presbyterians Plea of Merit (1733), attacked the Whig government for their intention to remove the Test Act for dissenters. We hold the anonymously printed reply to Swift’s pamphlet, entitled, A Vindication of the Protestant dissenters (Dublin, Powell: 1733), which contains handwritten notes penned by Jonathon Swift himself as he read the attack upon his work. Unfortunately, some notes were cropped in the binding process but we can immediately see some of his reactions in the margins, including his rebuttals of certain points. These comments were later reworked as part of Swift’s ironic reply, Reasons for repealing the Sacramental Test & c. in favour of the Catholics (1732).

The final example shows an anonymous commentator’s interaction with another of Swift’s pamphlets, The management of the four last years vindicated….(London: J Morphew, 1714). It was written by Swift as a reply to Charles Povey's An inquiry into the miscarriages of the four last years reign (London: Robinson, c.1714). As you can see, the commentator has drawn a manicule, signalling the importance of the passage. There are also underlinings, vertical lines to emphasise a paragraph, comments written next to the printed text, as well as copious notes at the foot of each page. Like previous examples, the handwriting here is difficult to decipher, rendering the task of interpretation problematic. However, for a student or researcher interested in either Swift or the historical period, grappling with difficult marginalia may provide a rich reward.

Studying marginalia can provide a deeper insight into an author and his or her readers as well give a greater appreciation of the wider context in which they wrote. Marginal notes and annotations help make an item unique and offer a glimpse into the lived experience of the book itself. They raise questions of provenance, use, and appreciation. In the digital landscape, we may question whether the process of creating marginalia will continue and what this means for the study of marginalia. We would love to see you in the Special Collections Reading Room deciphering these works or puzzling over other books with accompanying marginalia.



References

Fajkovic, M., & Björneborn, L. (2014). Marginalia as message: Affordances for reader-to-reader communication. Journal of Documentation, 70(5), 902–926. doi:10.1108/jd-07-2013-0096 

Houston, K. (2013). Shady characters: the secret life of punctuation, symbols, & other typographical marks. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.


Jackson, Heather J. (2001).  Marginalia: readers writing in books. New Haven: Yale University Press.






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3 November 2016

The Lyell Collection – a wealth of valuable Earth Science resources

Jennifer Kain, Subject Librarian, lets  us know about a specialist geology resource, that includes information from the early nineteenth century.

Named after Charles Lyell, the eminent nineteenth-century geologist, the Lyell Collection is a highly regarded and comprehensive online collection from the Geological Society (London).  It includes journal titles, Special Publications & Memoirs, along with key Book series and material published on behalf of other related societies.

Cutting edge science sits alongside important historical material, all captured and presented via the HighWire Press platform, and available to us as HTML or high quality PDF.

Content, from 1811 onwards, covers a wide range of topics in the Earth Sciences, including; Geology, Hydrogeology, Geochemistry, Palaeontology, Geo-engineering, Petroleum, Mining, Environment, Climate, Volcanology, Planetary sciences and many other related areas of interest to Monash reserchers.  You might be surprised to find what gems could be discovered!  Try a search on your own topic.

For each item found you may also discover fully linked references embedded, enabling users to navigate from the original journal article to other cited references.  These may also be available in full-text if these cited references are part of our wider HighWire Press collections, or be available as part of another Monash subscription.

Lyell Collection is an excellent resource for the Earth Sciences in particular, but includes some valuable material for the wider Science/Engineering areas as well.  Enjoy exploring the Lyell Collection from the Monash University Library.

Contact the Subject Librarian with any enquiries.  jennifer.kain@monash.edu

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5 October 2016

A welcome resource: New LGBTQ database


The Archives of sexuality and gender : LGBTQ history and culture since 1940 gives access to a range of resources surrounding the social, political and health issues relating to the LGBTQ movement since the 1940, by Rod Rizzi


The Library has acquired a subscription to a new database that contains a wealth of information and resources across the social science, humanities and health subject areas.

The Archives of sexuality and gender: Part 1, LGBTQ history and culture since 1940 database provides access to articles on a broad range of political, social and health issues that have previously not been available as part of the mainstream media. It allows us to look back at stories as they broke from a perspective that has not always been available via our traditional and indeed existing databases.

Using the unique ‘Term Clusters’ visual wheel to look at related subject areas can uncover relevant information that a simple search may have overlooked.

The database content is drawn from more than 35 countries sourcing relevant material in the form of reports, policy statements, articles and the like. The coverage of the AIDS crisis is a particular feature, but equally the inclusion of material in relation to feminism and women’s rights are notable features.

Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity can be found by going to Library Search and the Databases A-Z page.


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29 September 2016

Making the ordinary extraordinary


By Daniel Wee

Old and special books are an important element of any rare books collection, and people are often surprised by some of the items we acquire for Monash University Library. Our recent acquisition of over 400 school readers from the Whitcombe and Tombs series certainly fits into this category. Individually the readers are well used, somewhat unimpressive in appearance, and incongruous amongst the typical rare decorative cloth, fine gilt bindings and delicate engravings. However, when these singularities are merged to form a collection, the seemingly subdued suddenly takes on a new lustre.




Taking advantage of the Antipodeans’ late 19th-century interest in children's literature, New Zealand bookseller, George Hawkes Whitcombe, and printer, George Tombs, created “low-priced, paper-wrapped children’s supplementary readers” en masse (McLaren, 1984). The series became known in Australasia as ‘Whitcombe’s Story Books’. The printing of 12 million copies of original Australasian and classic literature from 1908 to 1962 is a testament to the proliferation of leisure reading amongst the masses over this time and the unyielding demand for cheap books.

These little readers demonstrated a delineation from prescribed canonised texts and inflexible school syllabuses to the 'democratisation' of education and availability of books to the masses. By creating cheap and accessible alternatives and supplements to school curriculums, Whitcombe and Tombs contributed to the cultural phenomenon of child readership. Jeff Prentice, muses in 'A History of the Book in Australia' that the 1930s and 1940s saw a movement that “reflected the needs of real child readers, and an increased willingness to address a child reader directly” (Prentice, 2001).

Unlike the rigidity of the 'School Papers' (a compulsory Education Department (Victoria) publication built into the curriculum), ‘Whitcombe’s Story Books’ amalgamated supplementary leisure reading with prescriptive texts. Whitcombe and Tombs’ encroachment into the school curriculum was met with a failed Victorian Royal Commission in 1935-36 after it was suggested that the bookseller was 'hijacking' the syllabus (Prentice, 2001).

The new acquisition of ‘Whitcombe’s Story Books’ are housed in the Lindsay Shaw Collection in the Rare Books Collection of the Library. This collection of over 12,000 items from the 19th and 20th century form one of Australia’s premier children’s literature collections.

Lindsay Shaw was the Secretary of the Monash Faculty of Education when he began to donate books to the Library in 1979. Lindsay was a major collector of Australian children's books and began his gift to Monash by donating sets of Ethel Turner and Mary Grant Bruce. As part of the development of this impressive collection, the Rare Books team posthumously supplement his collection by purchasing rare and important English, American and Australian children’s books.

The collection is available for viewing and research purposes Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm.  Items can be found through Search and our knowledgeable librarians can work with you to discover some of the treasures that are housed in your Rare Books collection.



References

McLaren, I., and Whitcombe Tombs Limited 1984, Whitcombe's Story Books : A Trans-Tasman Survey. U of Melbourne Library, Parkville.

Prentice, J 2001, ‘Case-study: Textbook publishing’, in J Arnold, A history of the Book in Australia 1891-1945 : A National Culture in a Colonised Market. U of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld , pp. 294-297.


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14 September 2016

Jay Winter's Photographing War: the Kodak revolution

Yale historian Jay Winter presented a provocative lecture on the Kodak revolution of World War I, and the vast trail of unofficial photography it left behind. In this article Monash University graduate student Sam Prendergast discusses the concept of dignity in death, and the questions raised by what the soldiers chose to photograph. [Scroll to the bottom for a full recording of Jay Winter's lecture.]

Jay Winter at the lecture held at Matheson Library
Few 20th century events have been so heavily memorialised as WWI. In Australia, the process of commemoration starts early. Every April, Australian primary school children draw crayon depictions of Gallipoli. They group uniformed men in wide-brimmed hats and spend their red ink on poppies. The official iconography of war makes its way through generations; as we move further from the event we become increasingly reliant on what we have learned to remember.


This is the context in which Jay Winter spoke about the ‘Kodak revolution’. While official war photographers captured a censored record of WWI, soldiers left a vast trail of unofficial photographs. They did so with the help of pocket-sized Kodak cameras. In moments of boredom, action, significance, or reflection, individuals recorded their experiences of war. Few of the images have made their way to the textbooks, but that might change; as archives of the Great War grow, the photographs move out of family photo albums and into the public domain.


For historians, the significance of the ‘Kodak revolution’ is realised in the archives. As Jay Winter stressed throughout his talk, the collected Kodak photos hold some democratic potential: soldiers’ photographs can counter prevailing assumptions about the nature of WWI. In one of Winter’s selected videos, we see men piling corpses on a truck in a fashion that evokes the Holocaust. The image of men stacking bodies is haunting in a way that statistics are not. In images, we lose the accuracy of numbers but we gain a sense of what it means to deal with death on a mass scale. Unofficial photos do a good job of portraying the gruesome practicalities of war.

World War I items from the Rare Books Collection at Monash
The soldiers’ photos tell us less about what they wanted to remember than about what they wanted to record. As Jay Winter guided us through a collection of images, I found myself wondering why these amateur photographers thought to pull out their cameras at particular points. This was especially so when Winter called our attention to a set of photos that belonged to a doctor. At war, the man had captured images of people in their dying moments. Some of the photos seemed curated: a head tilted, unnaturally; a body placed in position. In one image, an injured soldier laid in the dirt, his face in pain. The photographer had titled the image, ‘A dying Serb’. When Winter showed us the photo he asked: is there no dignity, even in death?


It was a provocative question, designed to make us question the photographer’s motivations. The assumption, on Winter’s part, was that the photographer, a soldier, acted unethically when he captured an image of another man dying. I was not so sure. The value of the Kodak photos is that they show us how soldiers’ experienced the war. Without one man’s photo, there would be no record of the other man’s death. I wondered what the dying man might have thought about having his image captured at that moment. Perhaps he, like Winter, wondered why the photographer would strip him of all dignity in his final moments. Perhaps he felt relief that someone was bothering to capture an honest portrayal of his death at war. Or maybe he was just consumed with whatever consumes a person when they’re lying, near-death, in the dirt.


Either way, the photo tells us about something about the reality of the man’s death, and there must be some dignity in having that experience recorded and remembered – if not for the photographed man, then perhaps for the many others who died similar deaths, or for those who returned home, having witnessed friends and strangers die. Because of the Kodak archive, the man is, at least, remembered as something other than a number. In capturing images, the amateur photographers left us with a democratic scaffolding around which to construct meaning. That one man could photograph another, as he died, reveals something about the battle front; it is at once tethered to the home front and, yet, removed from the home front’s norms.


War strips people of their dignity long before they die; the question is whether or not the archive can restore it. The ‘Kodak revolution’ created a wealth of source material, but the value of an archive is realised through its use, not through its mere existence. As more ‘democratic’ records of war make their way into historians’ hands, we face new questions about how to use the materials – how to read them, select them, and present them. Perhaps there is rarely dignity in archives: the respectable, legitimised trash cans of the past. But there might be some dignity in using them to restore a lopsided version of history. As a graduate student, Winter’s lecture raised unexpected questions about the ethics of trawling through documents and guessing at the motivations of people who are long-dead.




A video recording of the lecture is available, with permission from Jay Winter.

Sam Pendergast is a Masters candidate in the History Department, Faculty of Arts. Her research focuses on the question of how historians can overcome the limitations of long-archived oral histories in order to bring forth "unheard" narratives. Currently, she's working with a collection of post-WWII Soviet displacement narratives; in 1950s Munich, US scholars created translated transcripts of their non-recorded interviews with Soviet DPs.


Follow Sam on Twitter:  @samprendergast_. 


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1 September 2016

Migration to new worlds

Migration to New Worlds is a digital primary source collection that explores the journeys of 19th and early 20th century immigrants from around the world to the United States, Canada and Australasia. ... by Melanie Thorn



'Canada Docks', 1860, watercolour. 
Most of the material is from the period 1800 to 1924, the ‘Century of immigration’, and comes from institutions in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, with a small number of items from Museum Victoria and the Maritime Museum of Tasmania included. The material incorporates Colonial Office files, manuscripts, watercolours, rare printed books, ship logs and plans, legal papers, maps and scrapbooks, and objects related to migration. There is also a significant collection of first hand accounts in the form of letters, diaries and oral histories. The database includes an interactive Migration Map which allows you to analyse and visualise migration trends using data from around the world, and also provides some secondary research aids such as the biographies of major immigrant agents and Tasmanian migrant stories. Content can be discovered by browsing thematic areas such as ‘Motives for Emigration’, ‘Departures: Port Conditions and Organisation’ and ‘Journey Conditions’, or browsing or searching the Documents, Galleries, and Oral History sections. Migration to New Worlds is available through Library Search and the Databases A-Z. For other primary source databases, the Primary Sources for Humanities Library Guide is a great place to start!



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11 August 2016

Understanding altmetrics

Interested in gathering an overview of who is viewing, sharing and talking about your research within and beyond academia? Want to know how to use this knowledge to improve your reach and possible engagement? Cassandra Freeman explains how altmetrics can help your research reach further.



What are altmetrics? 

Altmetrics have evolved from measures of scholarly impact based on author and article citation counts and journal impact factor, known as Bibliometrics. It began with the introduction of article level metrics by PLOS (Public Library of Science) in 2006, to recognise that scholarly communication was changing as academics were moving into an online environment and engaging more with social media. As a result, impact should be measured at the article level with views, downloads, mentions and shares of an article tracked and shown in addition to citation counts. 


The term altmetrics, a shortening of “alternative” metrics, was first used in a 2010 tweet by Jason Priem, a doctoral student who went on to co-found one of the main altmetrics tracking services, Impactstory. Priem liked the emphasis placed on article level metrics, but felt it still did not recognise that academics produce a diverse range of research outputs in addition to journal articles, and the dissemination and online engagement with these outputs should also be tracked and counted.  Altmetrics, therefore, can be used to mean “Impact measured based on online activity, mined or gathered from online tools and social media”, or metrics for alternative scholarly outputs.


Where can you view altmetrics?

It can take time to utilise the tools to gather all the metrics associated with a research output, and to get an overview and analyse the numbers from so many sources. Publishers and companies that provide products for academic institutions now offer this service. Currently, there are three main tracking services. Two of these are Altmetric.com and PlumAnalytics, commercial products that offer more detailed analytics of altmetrics for academic institutions and researchers for a subscription fee. EBSCO PlumAnalytics categorise their metrics into 5 main categories of usage, captures, mentions, social media, and citations. Basic information provided by the Plum widget for articles can be freely viewed in the CINAHL and Business Source complete database.

Altmetric.com is a product of the Digital Science publishing company, who also developed the secure repository service recently launched at Monash called Figshare. The repository is key to the availability and discoverability of research outputs, as not only journal articles can be deposited and made public (if publisher compliant) but also videos, slides, data, posters etc. which if the researcher chooses to make public are given a citable DOI (digital object identifier). It is the identifiers that can then be tracked for mentions, shares and usage across social media platforms.

Monash.figshare users can now also view the Altmetric.com badge ‘donut’ on their dashboard to view the altmetrics of any of their publicly viewable research outputs. The donut provides a weighted score, based on volume, sources and author. For a detailed explanation of the donut read more here


The Altmetric.com badge is a free tool that can also be embedded into a researcher’s own personal webpage, and the free Altmetric bookmarklet  can be added to a browser so that anyone can view the altmetrics of any research output with a permanent identifier. Some e-journals and online databases including Wiley online, Springer and Taylor & Francis, also have the Altmetric badge next to selected article results. The Monash Library Search has a Metrics tab using the donut for articles with participating publishers and a DOI.  Almetric.com has also recently launched the badge for books and chapters.

The third company is a service called Impactstory, co-founded by Jason Priem, mentioned above. Researchers can now join for free with their ORCiD. Described as a hybrid research service, it provides researchers with a profile page and can also be linked to other accounts such as a Google Scholar profile and ORCiD for automatic import. Once a profile has been created, researchers can manually add the URLS of any videos they have produced, link to webpages, or add the DOI of articles they have published. Impactstory will then track their research outputs and update the altmetrics associated with them.

Another free service called Kudos has been gaining more attention, and recently signed an agreement with SAGE publishing to assist their authors with the dissemination of their research. Kudos provides authors with trackable links to their articles and also provides a platform for researchers to use plain language to explain their work. An example of how they do this can be viewed here.

Altmetrics are reliant on discoverability, correct attribution and promotion. Ensure you register for an ORCiD to create your own unique researcher identifier, publish open access, deposit your research outputs in monash.figshare, and make them public if possible. Develop an online profile and think about a social media strategy to start promoting your research. Think about using the free Altmetric.com tools to see who is already sharing your research for possible collaboration or targeting policy makers.

Altmetrics are not a replacement of traditional research impact measurement tools, rather they can be used in addition to other metrics. For more information about altmetrics and measurement tools, see the Monash Research impact and publishing library guide.

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Further reading:

http://altmetrics.org/manifesto/

What constitutes valuable scholarship? The use of altmetrics in promotion and tenure.
EDUCAUSE Review 51, no. 2 (March/April 2016)

Policy impact and online attention: Tracking the path from research to public policy on the social web.
LSE Blog

Social Media Metrics in Scholarly Communication Exploring tweets, blogs, likes and other altmetrics
Special issue of Aslib Journal of Information Management:

Images:
Photo 1: KROMKRATHOG Freedigitalphotos.net
Monash Library Search record


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10 August 2016

Academic resources: Navigating the databases


Your assessments take all kinds of different forms - variety is the spice of life, after all! The requirements can sometimes seem a little confusing - especially if one assessment asks you to use ‘academic’ sources, another ‘scholarly’ sources, and a third ‘refereed’ sources. What do all these terms mean? And where can you find such sources? The Library's Romney Adams is here to untangle the terminology, and hone your detective skills...


First of all: ‘Academic’, ‘Scholarly’, and ‘Refereed’ sources all mean the same thing. Remember how I mentioned that variety is the spice of life? These three terms just mean that your lecturer or tutor are after sources that have undergone something called Peer Review. This is a strict editorial process which ensures material published in academic journals is of a high standard, and suitable for others (such as yourself!) to cite and use in your own research and writing. If you'd like to know more about what Peer Review actually involves, check out this short video from North Carolina State University (it features dinosaurs!). When people speak about academic sources, people often think primarily of journal articles. But books can also be academic sources. Many students enjoy the convenience of being able to access and read journal articles online, but academic books can also be a great resource - particularly if you're new to a discipline, or unfamiliar with a certain area of research. However, textbooks are not typically used as evidence (in-text citations) to support arguments in your assessments. Of course, each of Monash’s libraries house thousands of physical books on our shelves, but many are also available as eBooks, which you can read online. Ask at your Library’s Information Point if you're unsure how to use Search to find eBooks, and check out this video to build your skills in being able to determine whether the source you’re using is an academic resource. If you like, you can test your knowledge with this interactive tutorial.
Nothing in life is free, and the same is true for journal articles (well, unless it’s published in an Open Access journal). Have you ever found the perfect article for your assessment in Google Scholar, only to be asked to pay to read it? It's very annoying, but the good news is that as students of Monash, the Library pays the access fees for you!
We subscribe to literally thousands of databases which give you access to academic collections, including journal articles and eBooks. With so many databases to choose from, it can be tricky to know where to start - but don't be overwhelmed! To ease into things, use Library Search, our resource discovery tool which searches our physical and online collections. You should be able to find some great academic resources to get you started, and when you're ready to build on this, you can start searching individual databases. Databases hold discipline-specific resources, and are reviewed and updated by your Subject Librarians and Electronic Access Librarians throughout the year, so you can be sure you'll be searching (and retrieving!) the content that is most useful for you. We love databases so much, that we even blog about them sometimes!
We suggest starting with Search, but it doesn’t retrieve results from every single resource we subscribe to, so make sure you’re researching thoroughly by searching directly in databases too. To determine which databases will be useful for you to use, head to the Library Guide for your discipline (e.g. Biology, History, Commercial Law).



Search and our subscribed databases hold a variety of resources - not all of them are academic, so it is important you build your skills in information evaluation to make sure you’re using the right materials to support your own arguments and claims in your assessments. Review the clip embedded above to get started, or chat to a librarian at your Library’s Research & Learning Point - they’ll be able to put you on the right track! Or, if you want to go more in-depth, check the Library Class Booking System for workshops on effective searching.
Photo 1 from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/startup-planning-notes-mac-book-7357/Photo 2: Screenshot from following video: http://www.monash.edu/library/transforming-libraries/matheson-video



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2 August 2016

Finding non-English resources: A guide for users

Where do you start when you’re looking for non-English resources in the Library?

There are many different writing systems in Library Search and a new guide makes searching in these non-English languages easier.
The Finding non-English Resources guide focuses currently on Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Cyrillic languages, as the Library has many resources in these languages in the Asian Collections and the Ada Booth Slavic Collection.
A tab for each of the four languages is provided, containing language-specific information about how to search. The Japanese and Korean tabs include a quiz to allow users to test their understanding, and one will be added for the Chinese tab soon.
Developed in consultation with academic staff from the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, the guide will include other languages in the future.


The guide also includes instructions for the use of IME (Input Method Editors) software. This allows people to type in many different languages and characters using standard computer keyboards.

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1 August 2016

Avoid assignment delays: get moving with effective preparation

So you’ve settled into the start of semester and have discovered all the assignment tasks you’ll need to complete in the next couple of months. Sometimes it can feel like you just don’t know where to start, or need to keep reading before you can start writing, or maybe you just start writing straight away on whatever you can think of. Don’t fall into these traps - good assignment writing needs good preparation. Here are some tips to get you pumping out your assignments effectively from Learning Skills Adviser, Emma Price.



  1. notes-514998_1920.jpgAnalyse your task

The first step in any assignment is to make sure you clearly understand what it is asking you to do. You may think you’ve got the idea from a quick read over, but you could miss out on some important details or misunderstand the question if you don’t spend a bit of time on task analysis. Comprehensively covering what is asked will usually add more marks onto your grade. Here’s some pointers to get you started: 

  • Think about whether or not you understand all of the terms involved - what might you need to look up?
  • You should highlight or scribble on the task itself for words or phrases that give you direction (what you need to do), content (topic or context) and limits (to set the required scope).

As you complete your assignment, you should always return to the task to make sure you are answering the topic and sticking to what was asked.

  1. Brainstorm and plan

Now that you understand what you need to do, a good next step is to spend a bit of time brainstorming. You might like to try creating a mindmap or just jotting down your thoughts on a page to record your ideas as you go.

  • What do you already know about this topic? What knowledge gaps will you need research?
  • How does this task fit into what you’ve covered in class?
  • What is your initial position towards the task? How will you approach what it is asking you to do?

This brainstorm is a great way to develop a plan. With your task analysis and initial thoughts on the topic, you can plot out how you will complete the assignment. This could be a skeleton structure outline noting down what the main sections or paragraphs should cover, or just some broad headings and subheadings of the areas you want to find out more about. You may want to write your approach or argument at the top of the page to keep you on track in your plan. Remember: this plan is not set in stone and you should adapt it as you do more research and start writing - but always make sure you are answering what the task is asking you to do!

You may also want to plot out a timeline between now and the due date to keep you on track with your research and writing.

  1. Research

Using your thoughts from your brainstorm and initial plan, it should now be pretty clear where you are headed and what you need to research for your assignment. Remember: 

  • Google is not the answer.
  • You should use the enormous amount of materials available to you through the Library. This way you get informed, credible and useful resources to help you in your assignment.
  • Try your faculty Library guide for some starting points on databases or key resources.
  • Your textbook or unit readings might help give you some background knowledge or starting points to expand your research.

From this, you can add in more ideas to your plan and get a better picture of how you will write your assignment. Keep on track by knowing your focus in the assignment and sticking to relevant reading - don’t get too lost in unhelpful tangents that will just use up precious time!

Remember to note down all the details for any sources you use for your referencing. And don’t get caught thinking you have to read more before you can start writing - you can always research as you write if you find there are some gaps to fill or you don’t have a good example for a particular part of your assignment.

By following these steps to get you started, you should have a really strong sense of your assignment. Use your expanded plan to avoid any writing procrastination - you know what you want to say and have the research notes to help you say it! Some students find sitting in front a blank screen and starting with their introduction makes their brain go blank. If this is the case for you, why not try starting at the next paragraph to get you going. You can always return after you have got your main argument paragraphs on the page, and this might help you write a clear and relevant introduction in the end anyway!

Don’t forget the friendly Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers at the Research and Learning Point! Drop-ins are available if you have any questions on how to get started on your assignment writing or research.

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Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

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