Category Archives: mla2007

quosa, ovid

I went on a multi-day jag of installing software programs on my work computer, including reinstalling Quosa.  Quosa is an Ovid product that is kind of a combination of EndNote, Papers, and a file drawer.  The cool thing that it does is fetch PDF and HTML articles en masse–from results of a search or an existing EndNote library.

I had Quosa installed on my computer before, but I found it really annoying. For one thing, it only worked with IE, and I am a Firefox girl.  Secondly, it claimed that it could get stuff from Ovid, so I would do a search through the Quosa interface and then be told AFTER I completed the search that the functionality wasn’t there yet.  Argh.  What I ended up doing was doing my searches as normal in precious, lovely Firefox and saving them to EndNote.  I then imported the EndNote library into Quosa, had it fetch all the PDF and HTML files for as many articles as my library has access to, and then went through several convoluted steps to save all the PDF’s/HTML files to a folder on whoever I was doing the search for’s network drive.  Then, I’d send them the EndNote file.  Basically, it was a very tedious practice that I rarely engaged in.  It was so user-unfriendly that I actually have a set of directions scrawled down so that I remember how to do it–I found myself spending ages re-figuring out how to do what I wanted each time otherwise.

Anyway, I got an invite from Ovid to attend a Quosa session at MLA, and I jumped at the chance for free breakfast (which was pretty tasty…) and to see if there were better ways I could be using Quosa.  About 25 other people had the same idea we did, and we all packed in the room and precariously balanced pastries, fruit, and hot coffee on our laps.

The first thing I learned was that my version of Quosa was hopelessly outdated (why, may I ask, doesn’t it have a built-in updating service a la every other software program on earth?).  The current version not only worked with PubMed (the only “channel” mine worked with), but also Web of Science, Scopus, and, lo and behold, Ovid.  (I found out from today’s experiments that it also works with “branded” PubMed versions now, too–so I can see those SFX links if I need them!).  This was very good news, indeed.

The guy giving the demo ran through some of the features, a couple of which he attempted unsuccessfully.  Such features included the whole downloading of full text thing, organization of references, creating folders, saving search alerts, etc.  Still a bit on the user-incredibly-unfriendly side–okay, really, really not user-friendly…but powerful none the less.  One thing that it does that I didn’t know about, for example, is that you can import a PDF library (a folder full of rogue PDF’s, basically)–Quosa will take those PDF’s and find the citations for them so that you can organize your PDF collection.  That was pretty cool–EndNote should work on building that feature.  Of course, if your PDF library largely consists of scanned documents, you are out of luck.

There is apparently a toolbar for Firefox in the works, though it doesn’t exist at the moment.  I hope this means that they will look at making the Quosa tool itself use Firefox as an option as well (my guess is not, but who knows).

The annotation capabilities are incredibly primitive.  You can’t highlight anything on your own in your full-text library–only Quosa can highlight stuff based on your search terms.  You can’t annotate directly in the document, just in a seperate window that’s like an attachment.  After using Scrapbook, Google Notebook, diigo, and who knows how many other tools that can do this (Papers, maybe?), this was a bit shocking to discover.  What’s the point, if you can’t mark up the text?

Another point the demo highlighted was Quosa’s compatibility with EndNote.  After the presentation, the woman next to me asked why compatibility with EndNote was desirable–wouldn’t it make more sense to have the capabilities of EndNote built into Quosa?  Here’s my answer: yes.  That’s pretty much the same issue I had with Zotero when it first came out (it has some citation capabilities now, plus limited built in Word support, I believe)–why should we have to use 2 programs?

Quosa is frankly unbeatable when it comes to grabbing full text.  In a matter of seconds this afternoon, I did searches in Scopus, PubMed, and Ovid and grabbed every article in my results that we have online access to.  That is really a nice feeling.


images from MLA 2007

I didn’t take very many pictures, but here are 4.

View from the skyway leading to my room…

view from skyway at hotel

Outside the Mutter Museum…

Mutter Museum

Chocolate rats from the Reading Terminal Market…

chocolate rats

Chocolate, anatomically correct heart from the same…

chocolate hearts

Hope everyone had a good time at MLA 2007–it was nice meeting some of you!

impact factor session

I just got back from the session on “beyond the impact factor.” I was really excited about it, but it ended up being a lot of what I knew, save the presentation on the University of California digital library study looking at value-based pricing, which was excellent. Eugene Garfield was the first speaker, but aside from criticizing people who criticize the flaws of the impact factor, his speech was fairly much like what you’d read on his web site. I was hoping for some more balance in the debate, but there wasn’t much. Brian Cameron’s article in portal was much better an overview of the impact factor.

Mentioned in the introduction to the speakers were a couple of journal evaluation measures that are being looked at: one from the UKSG 2007 meeting, the cost-per-cite model put forth by Bergstrom and McAfee, the Eigenfactor (never had heard of that one, I’ll admit), and the use of time spent on using a journal as a factor.

Part of the value-based pricing presentation talked about value-added contributions as one factor of journal pricing. Editors, for instance, who voluntarily edit journals at their institution do so at a cost of about $12,000/year per editor, just for space and time. Another component of value-based pricing was realistically looking at the cost increases publishers must bear per year using the Producer Product Index, which averaged a 1.36% increase from 2003-2006. (Obviously, journal prices are rising at a slightly higher rate.)

Another factor was the Bergstrom-McAfee RCI (which I missed the full name of)–essentially it looks at the prices of for-profit journals in a field in comparison to the prices of non-profit journals in the same field. If for-profit titles have a RCI score of 1 or less, they are good value (economically) titles; if the score is 1.5 or higher, it is a poor value title. These factors can be used in negotiations with publishers, though the University of California researchers have just begun to look at how that could be used.

more on the presidential inaugural speech

(Before I get to that, I just got back from the Mutter Museum–yay!)

Probably the other blogs have already covered this, but as I haven’t checked my reader in a couple of days, I will take the liberty of pretending no one has. Mark Funk’s presidential theme is Only Connect!, a quote from Howard’s End. He talked at length about why people associate (i.e., why are we all at MLA?), including an amusing look at some of the goofy and off-beat associations listed in the Encyclopedia of Associations, such as the International Sand Collectors Club, the Bowling Writers of America, the Northern Nut Growers Association, and the Association of Professional Piercers. The latter drew a lot of laughs from the audience for its health and education emphasis, which I thought was rather bizarre, since infected piercings, bloodborne diseases, and etc. are in fact major health concerns. (Physicians and health professionals should know how to remove piercings, basically–and if you want to help your health professionals learn how to do this, there is a book).

Anyway, he concluded that it is a fundamental part of human nature to associate, and then moved into a diverting simulation of a cave man giving a presentation at a cave man association meeting (complete with bulleted list).

The goal of his presidency of MLA is to expand the reach of the association and stop the isolation of librarians, spread out across the country and the world as we are. He talked about how only a minority of MLA members get to come to MLA–there needs to be a way to include all members in decision-making, educational efforts, and the community of MLA meetings, even when members can’t make it. This way, all members would be able to participate, share knowledge, and connect with each other.

He sees technology as the first step towards this goal–specifically social software and Web 2.0 technologies. He mentioned specifically blogs, wikis, and RSS, even naming boing boing as a top blog in addition to T. Scott’s blog. There was a lot more to this section of his talk, but overall, he just was encouraging using these tools as means of increasing the conversation and building participation in decision-making, along with making the association transparent.

He went through a mock-up of what a personalized myMLANET might look like, complete with member profile (no real social networking functionality was mentioned, though I would think his task force would look at that), RSS feed aggregator, auto-populated profile information (like what sections you belong to), AHIP points documenter, “tags” (which could be to a number of things, but he specifically mentioned and Flickr) and virtual conference materials, like videos and more.

He went through an example of how new members could then feel instantly connected to MLA, like their membership and opinions count, even if they just joined that day. For example, the profile he showed belonged to the cave man from the earlier simulation (Cyril Kaufman). Cyril logs on and sees in his aggregator page a post to the Public Services blog about a saber-toothed tiger loose in the stacks–Cyril could immediately post a response due to his specialized saber-toothed tiger knowledge. (The saber-toothed tiger infested library was in Kansas–where as we all know, evolution never happened…did I mention Mark Funk’s speech was hilarious?)

The final bits of his speech were talking about the speed of implementation of these ideas, which he realistically noted probably wouldn’t be in his tenure. He did encourage the association to reject the culture of perfect and stay in permanent beta, which got cheers from the audience. He got a standing ovation at the close of his speech–really, it was that good.

presidential inaugural speech

Mark Funk’s speech was awesome. I will write more later. 🙂

MLA update

I haven’t been keeping my log of MLA 2007 as up to date as I’d like, mainly due to lack of wireless access in the meeting and no Blackberry. After experiencing much frustration this meeting, I would highly, highly encourage the 2008 NPC to get free wireless access for all attendees. It might be costly, but it would be worth it to have a wired conference. I attended the E-Learn 2006 conference in Honolulu, which was probably about 2/3rds the size of this conference, and they provided free wireless. It was great–the whole room practically was filled with laptops and PDA’s and tablets.

Anyway, yesterday was pretty much chock full of meetings for me. I went to two sessions, one on generation gaps (the whole session) and one on integrating the library into first year medical school problem based learning curricula. The generation gaps presentations inspired much debate about whether generation gap theory is accurate or even useful as a distinction. Most of the presenters said yes, some said no.

To interject my opinion in the matter, I think it has a great deal of merit. I worked for one of the “greatest generation” at my last job, and I adored her, there were definite generational issues there. The biggest one was job loyalty. She had been grooming me to take over the library, and when I left as budget problems became too dire for me to stay, she felt personally betrayed because she thought I’d be there for a long time to come. Though I didn’t want to leave, I am a total Gen Xer–I know that the chances of me being ABLE to stay in one job the rest of my life are totally nil, and I operate at all my jobs in such a way as to keep myself eminently marketable for when the day comes where I will need to leave. Budgets get cut, jobs change, and my loyalty is to myself, not my employer.

I’m going off to the Quosa sunrise seminar now, but I will write more later, and I will link up a lot of these posts to the abstracts/PowerPoints later.

Caplan lecture

Arthur Caplan’s lecture this morning was way better than I expected it would be–in addition to having what turned out to be a very intellectually stimulating topic, he was also really funny.

He talked about peer review and conflict of interest in an interesting way.  Toward the beginning of his talk, he criticized peer review journals as being under the influence of big pharma–essentially that they are “on the take.”  How, he wondered could librarians ethically recommend on-the-take peer review journals over Wikipedia, which is merely just the work of lunatics?  (In a funnier way that I put it.)

He gave a couple of examples of recent journal articles that were essentially debased in the popular media for having conflict of interest problems.  One of the examples, dear to my own heart, was the excellent JAMA fetal pain systematic review that was attacked by the religious right as being unethical because some of the authors were pro-choice and some received funding from Planned Parenthood and similar organizations.  Apparently, Marcia Angell and another NEJM editor both publicly critiqued JAMA for not disclosing that history with the article, because if it was the other way around (an anti-choice person who found that fetal pain does start at 20 weeks), readers would want to know.

Caplan basically went on to say that this was an insane path to go down, because if everyone had to disclose every potential thing about themselves (their rivals in the field, high school enemies, political leanings, religion, etc), then journals would be all biography and no articles.  🙂

He said that there was a crisis of confidence in the scientific method–that the public couldn’t or didn’t trust science anymore because of the relativism inherent in this conflict of interest type of criticism.  (It reminded me a bit of the D-LIB tagging article that talked about tagging being bad because it denied the Aristotelean unities.)

He suggested the following as solutions:

  • open peer review (if not the reviewers, then at least to publish the reviews with the articles
  • pay peer reviewers
  • reward peer reviewers in tenure/pay scale systems
  • peer reviewers should disclose conflicts of interest as well as authors
  • hire statisticians to review research methodologies
  • tone down media releases
  • stop talking about medical breakthroughs–until something is repeated and proven it is newsworthy, but not a breakthrough
  • make editorial process transparent to the public

Someone asked if he thought PLoS One was the way peer review should be headed, and he said yes–Web 2.0 technologies can have a big impact on improving transparency of the peer review process.