All 19 entries tagged Information Skills

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April 20, 2012

Guest post: Hocus Scopus

With 46 million records of peer-reviewed literature, Elsevier’s SciVerse Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database, with citation data for papers published from 1996 onwards. It’s a valuable resource for finding scholarly literature, but also offers tools for analyzing journal performance, finding out where and how frequently authors and articles are being cited, and tracking research trends. Some of the REF panels will be using citation data as one of several indicators of academic significance during the assessment process, and Scopus has been selected as the provider of this data. In this post I’m going to share some tips on how to get started with Scopus.

There is a useful set of short online tutorials on how to use Scopus here, which you can play, pause, or just click through. The SciVerseTraining Desk provides a range of training videos with more details on how to make the most of this database. Also, on the top right of every page of the Scopus there is a ‘help’ link to more information about particular tools and services.

Document Search
  • This tutorial explains how to carry out a document search, and also shows how citation analysis is built into the search results.
  • It is worth registering for a personal account with Scopus if you want to save searches to run in future browsing sessions, set up alerts every time documents matching your search terms are uploaded to Scopus, or every time a document or author is cited.
  • One useful feature is Scopus’ Document Download Manager. If the Library subscribes to journal content listed in the search results, Scopus allows you to save time by downloading multiple article pdfs.
Journal analyser
  • Another tutorial shows how you can select up to ten journals to analyse using SJR and SNIP, as well as simpler metrics like the total number of citations received in a year, and the total number of documents published in a year. You can view the data as a line chart or table. The line chart has data points which you can mouse over get a snapshot of journal performance at a moment in time.
Author and affiliation searching
  • This tutorial shows how to search by author and affiliation, and how you can track research by setting up alerts to be notified when a given author is cited or publishes a new document.
  • The author details page provides information about an author’s publishing history and research interests, and is a starting point for finding co-authors, tracking citations, and using the author evaluator tool. This displays an author’s publishing output, the number of citations received, and the h-index in the form of a graph and document list.
  • Errors of attribution and affiliation do occur. To correct records, click on ‘give feedback’ on the author details page, then ‘request author detail corrections’ and use the ‘wizard’ to input and review the information. The correction goes back to the Scopus feedback team.

Citation data is only one kind of indicator for evaluating research. For a good general introduction to the use of bibliometrics in research assessment, see the Measuring Your Research Impact toolkit.

March 21, 2012

Finding journal articles when we have no subscription

Warwick has a large and excellent collection of journal subscriptions but we don't subscribe to every journal! I sometimes find myself giving this same advice to PhD students, about finding journal articles in full text when we have no subscription to the journal(s) that they want access to.

If there are particular journal articles that you want access to, then you might be able to find some for free by searching on Google. In my experience, Google is better than Google Scholar at finding open access articles, if you already know article title and author to search by. Another place to look for open access versions of journal articles would be on a repository cross-searching tool like BASE for open access early versions of the articles.

Students can also complete document supply requests, with the support of a supervisor. Or if you can find a library which subscribes to a print version of the journal then you could possibly arrange to visit that library (see the Library advice page on Using other Libraries). COPAC is a good website to use, to find out about other libraries’ holdings, as it is a union catalogue of a number of UK research libraries.

March 02, 2012

Who is interested in my online profile?

Writing about web page

This recent news article on Yahoo inspired me to have a little look at what I can find out about people interested in my work online: I already get e-mails from whenever someone googles me and clicks to see my profile.

I have never before explored Google's Adwords: I'm not a commercial organisation(!), but it has an interesting "Keyword tool" that you can use for free. I gave it my name as a phrase, and it told me that on average there are 22 searches per month, over the last 12 months for my name. It also came up with 2 keyword ideas: "information science" and "scholarly writing".

You can also give Google Adwords a URL, so I gave it the one for this blog: this time there were 98 keyword ideas. I think that the idea is that you could pay for your advert to appear whenever someone searches for such keywords. Which I'm not going to do, but it could also be an interesting tool for researchers who are looking for keywords to enhance their searching! They could give it the URL or title of a paper of particular interest and see what is suggested, if they are struggling to come up with ideas for themselves.

LinkedIn also tells me how many people have viewed my profile there in the last 90 days, and how many times my profile has shown up in search results. Not quite so high as the figure from Adwords, but then it's only about LinkedIn. On LinkedIn I can see the profiles of the people who viewed my profile, along with some anonymous users... there is more information for those prepared to pay for it, too. has a "stats dashboard" which tells me how many profile views and document views I've had in the last 30 days: even fewer than LinkedIn. I can also see what country the views were from and which referring site and keyword led them to find my profile/article.

Now of course, there is also Google Analytics which can tell me how many people have viewed my blog, and Twitter and Hootsuite between them can give me an idea of who is following me and how many people click on the links I share and so on and so forth... and if I had the time to track all of this then I might be able to see whether/which blog posts and tweets and activities in general are having some kind of impact... but still, I'm just happy that Google Adwords has suggested some words associated with my work interests!

December 22, 2011

Recording information when literature searching

Some notes in preparation for revising RSSP Lit Searching workshop material... Merry Christmas to all!

Recording information

Every researcher will no doubt have their own way of doing this, but here are some methods to get you thinking about what might work for you. You don’t have to use only one method: I personally like a combination of the log book & accounts on databases, the filing cabinet and reference management software!

1) Index cards

Write the details of each item you might cite onto a card, and store/sort these.
Advantages: cards can be sorted by date, author, theme, relevance. Can be created without digital devices.
Disadvantages: cards can be lost, take time to create and cannot benefit from data export functions or be sorted using computing power!

2) A table

Record the details of all items onto a table: either a digital file or a printed record. NB it can be difficult to devise a table that can cater for all information types.

3) Log book

Information recorded day by day, into a log book (digital or print). This approach can be combined with the account functions on most databases and repositories where you can save records of interest and search histories.
Advantages: easy to re-trace your search steps and to plot progress.

4) A filing cabinet

Print out articles or front pages of articles (or photocopies of book title pages, etc), write the referencing details onto the front of them and staple notes with quotes and key concepts onto the print out.
This is similar to the Index cards mechanism and you can include some such cards into your filing cabinet as well, so could be useful if bringing back records from somewhere with little or no technology access.

5) Reference management software

Such as EndNote, EndNote Web, Mendeley, Zotero, Connotea
Advantages: data import functions can speed up your record creation process. ‘Cite while you write’ functions help you to keep track of references within your text as you write up, automatically creating your bibliography for you, within a document.
Disadvantages: sophisticated software takes time to learn how to use properly. Records are likely to need editing and supplementing even after importing. Referencing rules will also likely need editing to be sure that your data is represented correctly. Not always suited to research in the field if computer access will be limited.

November 08, 2011

A Data Management tutorial

Writing about web page

The University of Edinburgh have produced this tutorial for PhD students on research data management, which is free for all to use...

To quote from the introduction: "The course content is mainly geared for three disciplines: geosciences, social and political sciences and clinical psychology, however, many of the issues covered apply equally to all research disciplines."

Each unit is designed to take one hour and there are 8 units, so it's a substantial course, involving data handling exercises. A couple of the units appear to still be in progress, but I guess if you start it now, then maybe these will be completed by the time you get to them!

November 01, 2011

Creating a search strategy

This Thursday, 2pm in the Library Training room on floor 2 will be the first of our literature searching workshops on the Research Student Skills Programme here at Warwick:

One of the things we cover is the importance of being organised in thinking of your keywords and the variations you might use, as a researcher. I'm embedding a template document that we have adapted as an example of one way to keep track of these, which is a handout from the session.

October 20, 2011

Data Management: after the JISC Webinar!

Writing about web page

I recently attended a virtual seminar run by the JISC, on the topic of data management. Slides and a recording of the event are available online at the link above. A summary of what picked up on follows. Also, since the Webinar, a colleague has highlighted the following Warwick pages on data management to me:

Sarah Porter's slides covered what the JISC offers on the topic of Data Management. They recognize the need for institutional policies, and clarity over roles and responsibilities within an institution. Researchers often define "data" very differently. FOI requests at Universities are increasing.

Simon Hodson's presentation had a great slide on the research data lifecycle and my favourite part of it was where the researchers should select what is to be kept and what is to be discarded! The kept data might be handed over to a repository.

On top of this cycle, Simon imposed an institutional cycle, to support good data management practice: this is rather a blue-print for how an institution can respond: It begins with 'Guidance and Policy Development' and goes on to 'Training and Information'. Then there is 'Support for Data Management Planning' and then 'RDM Systems and infrastructure' and then 'Publication and Citation mechanisms' (recognition, rewards and benefits for data sharing, etc). There then follows a flurry of useful links. I've collated links from both presentations which stood out for me, below.

Simon's slides then visit the theme of costing data archiving, including evidence of the cost saving for centralizing data archiving.

Guidance for researchers

DCC How-To Guides:
(On topics such as: –Appraise and select research data for curation –How to license research data –How to develop a data management and sharing plan)

DCC Data Management Plan Online tool:

JISC Q&A on ‘Freedom of Information and Research Data’:

How to cite data: DCC Briefing Paper on Data Citation and Linking:

UK Data Archive has stuff for Programme level data management (most other stuff is project level):

At other institutions

Video materials:

PhD students

JISC's Five projects to design and pilot (reusable) discipline-focussed training units for postgraduate courses: - I visited these pages and the projects should all now be completed (by 31 July 2011) so this is worth further exploration. Edinburgh's "MANTRA" looks particularly interesting, being non-discipline specific, and at first glance I'm interested in their packages relating to SPSS, which is used by many researchers. CAiRO also seems especially interesting in that it's about data from live arts departments, which is perhaps a less obvious form of reserach data.

Data management policies

RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy:

Overview of funder policies:

DMP Checklist: (This refers to the online tool as the most up to date version of this guidance, but it is a different format.)

October 18, 2011

A few newspaper sources

At Warwick, the most up to date online newspaper subscriptions we have are through Factiva: some titles do have a delay period before they become available to us there, but not all. If you are interested in searching newspapers from the past or want a link to Factiva then this link should prove helpful:

In terms of free, online news sources, I like the BBC ( and the Guardian ( Some other sites which folks might want to look at are: the Independent: and World News:

It seems to me that using Google Reader is rather like creating your own newspaper, subscribing to RSS feeds and then watching the headlines to see if there is anything that you want to read. Many news sites will offer you RSS feeds, so you can build your own. If you don’t know about RSS feed readers then you could sign up for the “23 Things for the Digital Professional” course (registration open until midnight on 23 Oct, 2011), as that is one of the things to be covered:

October 12, 2011

My top tips for a new PhD student, on literature searching

Here is an adapted excerpt from some recent correspondence with a new PhD student at Warwick:

If I were you then I would start by building your list of places you wish to search...

...then look at the keywords you wish to use,

...then start searching in earnest.

Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to do all of this!

Do be organised so that you can refer to your records at a later stage, and set up accounts and alerts as you go along so that you don’t have to do the same searches over and over again.

Do also record places that you choose not to search and why, and keywords that you choose not to use, and why.

There is often a strange, panicky moment when you think you’ve discovered a new source of information or search strategy, a year or two down the line… and then it turns out that you did know about it but had good reasons not to use it then which might still apply or not, as your research evolves.

It’s quite easy to forget what you did at this stage so recording things is important: you’ll probably find your own system for this, although we suggest some useful methods at the RSSP workshops for PhD students:

September 28, 2011

You said, We responded…

Follow-up to Information skills at Warwick: researchers' views. from Library Research Support

I have already blogged about the results of our information skills survey but recently I created this handy table to describe our work in a more succinct way:

You said: We responded by:
Researchers seek support from other researchers. a) Research Exchange website content is produced by researchers for researchers. See guides and blog articles, etc online: Also see the Researcher to Researcher blog:
b) Research Exchange website is piloting “Research Match”: This is a light touch profiles tool, designed to connect researchers with other researchers.
‘Assessing the quality of information found’ was the skill most highly valued. More emphasis on the evaluation of information quality is now covered in the e literature search skills workshops for the Research Student Skills Programme (RSSP) for PhD students:
The top five skills researchers wish to develop are:
1) discovering unpublished resources;
2) using reference management software;
3) developing effective search strategies;
4) knowing where to publish their work;
5) filtering search results.

These themes are covered by many of the new blog and guide materials that are now available on the Research Exchange website.

The Modern Records Centre delivers training sessions on how to exploit archival resources.

The Library’s contribution to the Research Student Skills Programme covers these themes.

The Library contributes a session on Getting Published to the PCAPP course.

Springer will also be hosting an authors’ workshop in the Research Exchange on the morning of 30th November and other publishers are being invited to present at Warwick too: keep an eye out on the Research Exchange website or join one of the networks to receive further details.

Online tutorials: researchers reported that most useful features of online courses were: textual information, visuals, videos, links to external resources and guided activities. The Library is piloting an online course “23 Things for the Digital Professional” which will run in the forthcoming Autumn term 2011 for a target cohort of PhD students (although anyone can register). This course will cover aspects of the five themes listed above, introducing web-based tools to participants. The course will run separately for research staff in a slightly modified format, across the Spring and Summer terms of 2012.

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