Microsofts Researcher Feature Offers Shortcut to Finding Sources

January 23, 2017

The article titled Microsoft Launches Researcher and Editor in Word, Zoom in PowerPoint on VentureBeat discusses the pros and cons of the new features coming to Office products. Editor is basically a new and improved version of spellcheck that goes beyond typos to report back on wordiness, passive voice, and cliché usage. This is an exciting tool that might put a few proofreaders out of work, but it is hard to see any issues beyond that. The more controversial introduction by Microsoft is Researcher, and the article explains why,

Researcher… will give users a way to find and incorporate additional information from outside sources. This makes it easy to add a quote and even generate proper academic citations for use in papers. Explicit content won’t appear in search results, so you won’t accidentally import it into your work. And you won’t find yourself in some random Wikipedia rabbit hole, because the search for additional information happens in a panel on the right side of your Word document.

Researcher pulls information from the Bing Knowledge Graph to provide writers with relevant connections to their topics. The question is, will users rely on Researcher to fact-check for them, or will they make sure that the suggested source material is appropriate and substantiated? In spite of the lessons of the Republic National Convention, plagiarism can get you into big trouble (in a college classroom, anyway.) It is easy to see student users failing to properly cite or quote the suggested information, unless Researcher also offers help in those activities as well. Is this a good thing, or is it another way to make our children dumber by enabling shortcuts?

Chelsea Kerwin, January 23, 2017

Shorter Content Means Death for Scientific Articles

December 26, 2016

The digital age is a culture that subsists on digesting quick bits of information before moving onto the next.  Scientific journals are hardly the herald of popular trends, but in order to maintain relevancy with audiences the journals are pushing for shorter articles.  The shorter articles, however, presents a problem for the authors says Ars Technica in the, “Scientific Publishers Are Killing Research Papers.”

Shorter articles are also pushed because scientific journals have limited pages to print.  The journals are also pressured to include results and conclusions over methods to keep the articles short.  The methods, in fact, are usually published in another publication labeled supplementary information:

Supplementary information doesn’t come in the print version of journals, so good luck understanding a paper if you like reading the hard copy. Neither is it attached to the paper if you download it for reading later—supplementary information is typically a separate download, sometimes much larger than the paper itself, and often paywalled. So if you want to download a study’s methods, you have to be on a campus with access to the journal, use your institutional proxy, or jump through whatever hoops are required.

The lack of methodical information can hurt researchers who rely on the extra facts to see if it is relevant to their own work.  The shortened articles also reference the supplementary materials and without them it can be hard to understand the published results.  The shorter scientific articles may be better for general interest, but if they lack significant information than how can general audiences understand them?

In short, the supplementary material should be included online and should be easily accessed.

Whitney Grace, December 26, 2016

How Real Journalists Do Research

November 8, 2016

I read “Search & Owned Media Most Used by Journalists.” The highlight of the write up was a table created by Businesswire. The “Media Survey” revealed “Where the Media Look When Researching an Organization.” Businesswire is a news release outfit. Organizations pay to have a write up sent to “real” journalists.

Let’s look at the data in the write up.

The top five ways “real” journalists obtain information is summarized in the table below. I don’t know the sample size, the methodology, or the method of selecting the sample. My hunch is that the people responding have signed up for Businesswire information or have some other connection with the company.

Most Used Method Percent Using
Google 89%
Organization Web site 88%
Organization’s online newsroom 75%
Social media postings 54%
Government records 53%

Now what about the five least used methods for research:

Least Used Method Percent Using
Organization PR spokesperson 39%
News release boilerplate 33%
Bing 8%
Yahoo 7%
Other (sorry but no details) 6%

Now what about the research methods in between these two extremes of most and least used:

No Man’s Land Methods Percent Using
Talk to humans 51%
Trade publication Web sites 44%
Local newspapers 43%
Wikipedia 40%
Organization’s blog 39%

Several observations flapped across the minds of the goslings in Harrod’s Creek.

  1. Yahoo and Bing may want to reach out to “real” journalists and explain how darned good their search systems are for “real” information. If the data are accurate, Google is THE source for “real” journalists’ core or baseline information
  2. The popularity of social media and government information is a dead heat. I am not sure whether this means social media information is wonderful or if government information is not up to the standards of social media like Facebook or Twitter
  3. Talking to humans, which I assume was the go to method for information, is useful to half the “real” journalists. This suggests that half of the “real” news churned out by “real” journalists may be second hand, recycled and transformed, or tough to verify. The notion of “good enough” enters at this point
  4. Love that Wikipedia because 40 percent of “real” journalists rely on it for some or maybe a significant portion of the information in a “real” news story.

It comes as no surprise that news releases creep into the results list via Google’s indexing of “real” news, the organization’s online newsroom, the organization’s tweets and Facebook posts, trade publications which are first class recyclers of news releases, and the organization’s blog.

Interesting. Echo chamber, filter bubble, disinformation—Do any of these terms resonate with you?

Stephen E Arnold, November 8, 2016

 

Terms and Military Symbols Explicated

December 18, 2015

Do you want to know what after action review or mission creep mean to someone in the US government? Now available is “ADRP1-02 Terms and Military Symbols.” The 350 page document is darned useful for those who do not have a G-2 around to clarify.

Stephen E Arnold, December 18, 2015

Is Collaboration the Key to Big Data Progress?

May 22, 2015

The article titled Big Data Must Haves: Capacity, Compute, Collaboration on GCN offers insights into the best areas of focus for big data researchers. The Internet2 Global Summit is in D.C. this year with many exciting panelists who support the emphasis on collaboration in particular. The article mentions the work being presented by several people including Clemson professor Alex Feltus,

“…his research team is leveraging the Internet2 infrastructure, including its Advanced Layer 2 Service high-speed connections and perfSONAR network monitoring, to substantially accelerate genomic big data transfers and transform researcher collaboration…Arizona State University, which recently got 100 gigabit/sec connections to Internet2, has developed the Next Generation Cyber Capability, or NGCC, to respond to big data challenges.  The NGCC integrates big data platforms and traditional supercomputing technologies with software-defined networking, high-speed interconnects and visualization for medical research.”

Arizona’s NGCC provides the essence of the article’s claims, stressing capacity with Internet2, several types of computing, and of course collaboration between everyone at work on the system. Feltus commented on the importance of cooperation in Arizona State’s work, suggesting that personal relationships outweigh individual successes. He claims his own teamwork with network and storage researchers helped him find new potential avenues of innovation that might not have occurred to him without thoughtful collaboration.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 22, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Oracle is Rocking COLLABORATE

April 15, 2015

News is already sprouting about the COLLABORATE 15: Technology and Applications Forum for the Oracle Community, Oracle’s biggest conference of the year.  BusinessWire tells us that Oracle CEO Mark Hurd and Chief Information Officer and Senior VP Mark Sunday will be keynote speakers, says “Oracle Applications Users Group Announces Oracle’s Key Role at COLLABORATE 15.”

Hurd and Sunday will be delivering key insights into Oracle and the industry at their scheduled talks:

“On Tuesday, Sunday discusses the need to keep a leadership edge in digital transformation, with a special focus on IT leadership in the cloud. Sunday will build upon his keynote from two years ago, giving attendees better insight into adopting a sound cloud strategy in order to ensure greater success.  On Wednesday, Hurd shares his insights on how Oracle continues to drive innovation and protect customer investments with applications and technology. Oracle remains the leading organization in the cloud, and Hurd’s discussion focuses on how to modernize businesses in order to thrive in this space.”

Oracle is really amping up the offerings at this year’s conference.  They will host the Oracle User Experience Usability Lab, Oracle Proactive Support Sessions, Oracle Product Roadmap Session, and more to give attendees the chance to have direct talks with Oracle experts to learn about strategies, functionality, products, and new resources to improve their experience and usage.  Attendees will also be able to take accreditation tests for key product areas.

COLLABORATE, like many conferences, offers attendees the chance to network with Oracle experts, get professional feedback, and meet others in their field.  Oracle is very involved in this conference and is dedicated to putting its staff and products at the service of its users.

Whitney Grace, April 15, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Want to Lose Weight? Google Results Could Make You Fat

November 18, 2014

I never know what to make of article that report about research results. Mistakes that would not fly in a Stats 101 class are the norm. I did work through “Poor-Quality Weight Loss Advice Often Appears First in an Online Search.”

Here’s the passage that I highlighted with my new bright pink marker:

The study reveals that the first page of results, using a search engine like Google, is likely to display less reliable sites instead of more comprehensive, high-quality sites, and includes sponsored content that makes unrealistic weight loss promises.

I would not be surprised if there were a Federal grant boosting this ground breaking, never before thought of, issue.

I find the results presented by advertising supported search engines incredibly useful, relevant, and on point. The notion that one might have to use a system other than Bing or Google to get accurate information is a new thought.

I liked this bit about the timeliness and rigor of the research too:

In 2012, the researchers accessed 103 websites for queries specific to weight loss and scored the content on its adherence to available evidence-based guidelines for weight loss. Medical, government and university sites ranked highest, along with blogs.

Yes, blogs and governmental entities are fonts of accurate information. With data from a mind boggling 103 Web sites to evaluate, I am amazed with the speed with which the information found its way to an online publication.

Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2014

Libraries: A Good Thing

December 31, 2013

When you cannot locate information on Google, what does one do? Some people just guess? Others use spreadsheets and make up data? Quite a few people go to the library. Well, “quite a few” may be one of those unsupported factoids about modern life.

Navigate to Pew Research and check out the outfit’s most recent report How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities. You can find it at http://bit.ly/1bLMEOt for now.

The report contains good news and bad news. Here’s a positive finding:

91% of Americans who have ever used a public library say it is not difficult to find what they’re looking for, including 35% who say it is “very easy.”

On the other hand, the Pew Report says:

“54% of Americans have used a public library in the past 12 months, and 72% live in a “library house hold.”

If accurate, this statement identifies a Pew sampling issue and underscores the need to reach the 46 percent of folks who don’t use the library more than once in a blue moon.

Since my team started Marketing Library Services in the late 1980s, library marketing has remained an important job. I sold this publication to Information Today and the MLS information service, like library marketing itself, remains mostly unchanged over the last 20 years. That in itself makes clear one aspect of the library market: It is slow moving.

I noticed the last time I used our local library that useful online resources were no longer available to patrons. The budget pressures on libraries are significant. The vendors of commercial databases have priced their commercial reference products so that  only a few institutions can afford them.

The Pew Report does little to lessen my concern that easily distorted free Internet information is creating a false sense of “research security.” Libraries are an asset. I want to see them become more important, offer more commercial database access, and communicate that there is more to research than letting Google’s personalized research provide information automatically.

Here’s hoping for a more vital role for libraries in 2014.

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2013

A Translation Guide for Scientific Papers

December 17, 2013

I think this is supposed to be funny. I am not sure that Elsevier, ACM, and other real academic publishers will see the humor, however. You may be able to find the original translation table at this Twitter link. No guarantees, so you know that I am indifferent to Google’s rules and regulations for important content. Let me highlight three of the “translations” from @sehnaoui:

  • “It has long been known” means “I did not look up the original reference”
  • “Correct within an order of magnitude”  translates as “Wrong”
  • “It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomenon occurs” means “I don’t understand.”
  • “It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigations in this field” connotes “I quit.”

These phrases appear in information retrieval papers and in text mining, predictive analytics, and natural language processing studies.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2013

Libraries: A Reminder of How Research Used to Be

December 5, 2013

A library invites search. A library experience can be social or solitary. One can proceed by asking a reference desk staffer where something is. One can locate books by wandering around. The word “serendipity” applies to this approach. One can use a card catalog with actual paper cards.

Image source: http://www.bibliotheque-institutdefrance.fr/catalogues/catalogues.html

Whoops. Wrong tense.

One used to be able to search in this way. No more. On a recent visit to the local library, I did speak with a reference desk professional. We browsed a computer screen looking for information. Unfortunately due to commercial database vendors’ policies, the information I sought was not available. One of my team called the commercial database vendor to find out how to access the specific information, and we did not reach anyone. Neither our voice mail nor our email elicited an answer. No joy.

I walked around the library. When I was a much younger version of myself, I found great satisfaction in the serendipity method. I recall learning about giving talks by browsing and coming across an illustrated volume by “Redpath.” I recall only the single word, and I have not been able to locate that particular volume again. No joy.

If you recall the libraries with books, magazines, card catalogs, and vertical files, I have a recommendation for you. Navigate to The Atlantic and peruse “The Evolution of the College Library.

I have access to a wealth of information on my local system and via the Internet. I have a number of information retrieval systems and tools. I even have a few books that I keep as a reminder of the good old days.

Know what?

None of the modern tools is as satisfying to use as a traditional library. For me, I enjoy the physical space and the experience of using a traditional book or reference book. I even like the distinctive odor of ink on paper. I can live without microfilm, but it was fun once to figure out how to locate a reel, thread it, and look into the past in odd, slightly off kilter representations of a page.

There were filters just like there are today. But there were, as now, ways around them. What’s lost? More than an old-fashioned, labor-intensive approach to research. The physicality of the library was for me as important as the collection.

Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2013

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