Monday, December 06, 2010

Consuming Delicious Linkrolls

No. Linkrolls are not a delicious appetizer or a holiday baked good.

Linkrolls are a way to have Delicious bookmarks displayed as part of a web site or blog posting. Although the ability to create Delicious Linkrolls has been available for over 5-years now, I've only recently began to leverage the service.

As an example of how they can be used, I've been working on an ePortfolio to track references to my various scholarly communications, appearing both in print and online. After performing various searches for references, I bookmark the ones I find on my Delicious site, making sure to add specific tags. The saved bookmarks can then be searched, sorted, and imported using scripting made available by Delicious. After all the options are set, it is as easy as copying and pasting to get the targeted Delicious links embedded into a blog post or web page.

To create a Linkroll:

- Create or log into your Delicious account
- Add bookmarks with tags
- Go to
- Change preferences, including appropriate tags
- Copy the html code into a web page or blog post. This will import Delicious bookmarks into any post or page.

The code generated by Delicious does not include any styling , so it may need some style tweaking. The imported content should blend in and adopt the look of your site.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Are Blogs Given Any Weight in Library Tenure and Promotion Cases?

I have stated in the past that I feel that blogging is a valid form of scholarly communication in the discipline of academic librarianship. Still the question continues to arise as to whether blogging should count as scholarship or a creative activity in academic promotion and tenure.

In "Bloggership, or is publishing a blog scholarship? A survey of academic librarians," Arthur Hendricks (Library Hi Tech, Vol. 28 Iss: 3, pp.470 - 477 DOI 10.1108/07378831011076701 ) details the results of a survey of academic librarians to uncover how much weight their libraries, and/or their parent institutions, place on blogs in promotion and tenure reviews. Of the 67 complete responses, 53.6 percent indicated that their performance review committees do not weigh a blog the same as an article published in a peer-reviewed journal, while only 1.5 percent stated they did.

Respondents were asked, “If you consider the above blogs to be scholarly (equal to an article published in a peer-reviewed journal), please describe why.” Answers varied, but one person wrote, “I'm not sure I would say ‘equal to peer reviewed journal’ but as intellectually thoughtful, important, and influential? sometimes. They tend to be more in the formative stage, like a conference presentation rather than the lengthy, substantial, finished nature of a peer reviewed article.” Of those respondents who publish a blog, 57.1 percent indicated that they find other's blogs to be scholarly.

Younger librarians are more inclined to think of their blog as counting toward scholarship when compared to older colleagues. Of those 22-30 years of age, 40.0 percent indicated that they thought their blog should count as scholarship, and of those 31-40 years of age, 27.3 percent thought their blog should count. None of those 41-50 years of age indicated that their blog should count as scholarship, and of those over 51, 12.5 percent considered their blog scholarly.

From the information provided in the paper, it appears that many of the respondents equate research with scholarship, when in fact research is a subset of scholarship. Scholarship is the creation of new knowledge or organization of knowledge within a new framework or presentation. Scholarship can take the form of a peer-review publication, but it can also be evidenced in other ways such as exhibits, public performances, digital resources, and papers at professional meetings. So, if a blog communicates some sort of new knowledge or the organization of knowledge within a new framework or presentation, or is even seen as a equivalent of a conference presentation, it is indeed scholarship.

Criteria for evaluation of any work of scholarship in any form should take into consideration originality, breadth of dissemination, and impact on scholarship and/or practice in the field of librarianship. I would argue that blogs may be having a greater impact in the practice of librarianship than are traditional publications. Blogs have invigorated the exchange of ideas within librarianship and have enabled academics to connect with a larger general readership for their insight and expertise.

What was very interesting was that being an article that discusses scholarly blogging it did not include one reference from a blog. If blogs are to be recognized as scholarly contributions, then they should also be viewed as such.

See also:

The “voice” of academic librarianship Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 25, 2010

Key Findings from 2010 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and IT

The Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, is a longitudinal study of students and information technology. The study focuses on what kinds of information technologies these students use, own, and experience; their technology behaviors, preferences, and skills; how IT impacts their experiences in their courses; and their perceptions of the role of IT in the academic experience.

The 2010 results are now available. It is based on 36,950 respondents from 127 academic institutions.

Some random key findings:

- 94% use their library web site for research; 1/3 several times a week or more
- 90% use presentation software and course or learning management systems
- 90% use texting or social networking for interactive communications; only 30% use them in courses
- 89% own a laptop or netbook
- 80% gave themselves 'high marks' on the skills in searching the Internet efficiently and effectively
- ~50% own mobile device; 43% of those use them daily for accessing information and/or email
- 40% use VoIP services, like Skype
- 36% use web-based productivity software
- ~33% are online more than 10 hours a week; the same percentage spends between 11-20%; 9% spend more than 40 hours
- 1.4 % use virtual worlds, like Second Life Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Go.OSU URL Shortening Service: Agile Development in Practice

About a year ago, I wrote about the idea of a creating a University-branded URL shortening service. Late last month, a small team that I collaborated with at Ohio State launched such a service, called Go.OSU.

Right after I wrote my post last year, I created a short project description and shopped the idea around to potential partners. My primary selling point was that the service would leverage the authority of the OSU brand to the shortened URLs that are included in social media, publications, etc. Although I received a lot of positive feedback about the idea, many potential partners were caught up with other projects.

Since there was so much positive feedback on the idea, this Spring I shopped the idea to the Office of the CIO. While receptive, the OCIO suggested that I build a business case document for them to consider. The idea would be vetted through their review process and, if it past that first level of review, the idea would be placed on a list along with other projects seeking funding. The project would move ahead into development if it received funding, or if other support was identified.

Although I appreciate the reality that projects at that level of an organization need to fit into processes and workflow, my gut said that this review process could take at least a year. It wasn't a very agile approach for a such a lightweight project.

Later in the Spring, I was walking through a hallway at a conference on campus when I heard my name mentioned. It was Beth Black, a University Libraries colleague, and Ted Hattemer, from University Marketing Communications, talking about the idea. I jumped into the conversation. In literally 10 minutes, a decision was made that the project would be developed jointly by UL and UMC and that Ted was on board as our (very supportive) sponsor.

No committee consensus.
No formal meeting.
No user survey / needs analysis.

A few weeks later Jim Muir, a developer on Beth's team, demoed for the project team a working prototype. A few weeks! How agile is that?

We pounded on it for a couple weeks and sent Jim all our feedback so he could make changes. Ted brought in one of his designers, Jim Burgoon, to assist the other Jim with the interface design. The project didn't move ahead too quickly over that next couple months due to competing priorities. The project regained momentum in the early summer and was finally launched after we addressed security and legal issues.

Libraries are always talking about the need to be innovative and to take advantage of emerging technologies. Yet, they slow it all down by forcing ideas and fledgling projects to go through formalized systems. As this project shows, innovation is not born in committee and through process. It is born from half-baked ideas and serendipitous meetings and grows by NOT adhering to formal processes or traditional methodologies.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shakespeare Quarterly Testing Open Peer Review

In what now appears to be a trend, the NYT reports that the prestigious 60-year-old Shakespeare Quarterly is also experimenting with open peer review.

In the forthcoming fall issue, SQ will become the first traditional humanities journal to break away from the traditional closed review system. Another journal, Postmedieval, is planning a similar trial for next year.

Mixing traditional and new methods, the journal posted online four essays not yet accepted for publication. A group of experts were invited to post their signed comments on MediaCommons. Anyone could add their thoughts as well as long as they registered with the system. In the end, 41 people made more than 350 comments. The comments elicited responses from the essay authors. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is Your Twitter Client Ready for June 30th?

Christopher S. Penn's post Are you ready for the Twitpocalypse? details coming changes to the Twitter API that will impact many of the widgets, sites, clients, and applications one may use to access Twitter.

Penn reminds us that on June 30th Twitter is ending support for basic HTTP authentication, and requiring that all applications that access Twitter via the API change to OAuth authentication. In short, any application, site, widget, etc. that uses basic authentication (entering your Twitter username and password) will stop working. Any application, site, widget, etc. that requires you to “authorize” an application will continue to work as intended.

OAuth is a technology that enables applications to access the Twitter platform on your behalf without ever asking you directly for your password. For users, switching to OAuth means increased usability, security, and accountability for the applications that you use every day.

So, you may want to look up your favorite client and make sure they are set to go with OAuth, or be ready to switch on June 30th. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 12, 2010

Are Most Effective Faculty Contributors “Permanent Associate Professors"?

I attended the annual address to the University Senate presented by Ohio State's Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph A. Alutto late last week. While I do not normally go to Senate sessions, I was given the heads-up that his address would include a discussion of potential changes to our promotion standards.

Although we talk about the need to have balance in their portfolios, the reality is when it comes to promotions to full professor faculty dossiers become a monopod: research. Some faculty have responsibilities that are essential for the organization to succeed, as is the case within the University Libraries system. The work of library faculty involved in e-resources or building digital collections make visible and demonstrably outstanding contributions to the missions of the university. The perception communicate by many faculty is that since such activities are not traditional research they will not given much weight in full professor deliberations.

Provost Alutto's observations support this perception:

"That leads me to the standards used for promotion from associate professor to full professor. Here I am talking about cases in which the 30- to 40-year compact between university and professor, the thing we call tenure, has already been agreed to and celebrated. Given that this commitment has been made, the next question is what should be the basis for advancement from associate professor (with tenure) to full professor (with tenure)...

"One answer, and the one that is most reflected in our formal documents and policies, is “more of the same.” That is, a full professor is supposed to have more publications, greater teaching achievements, and higher service contributions to justify promotion. Wonderfully, for many faculty members, this is exactly the pattern we see played out. They continue to perform powerfully on all dimensions. However, in reality, promotion to professor tends to be based primarily on assessments of the impact of a faculty member’s scholarship in a particular discipline.

"If one reviews hundreds of such promotion cases, as does any provost, it becomes clear that promotion to full professor tends to be reserved for those whose research impact is clearly superior. The faculty member whose primary impact and distinctive contributions are in the areas of dissemination of knowledge through teaching or service to the university or professional associations will tend to be passed over for promotion to full professor—unless a department can find a way to “fudge” a demonstrated level of research impact."

As the Provost points out, this approach is insidiously harmful. It generates cynicism among productive faculty when they realize the “game” being played. This can frustrate productive faculty who contribute to their disciplines and the university in ways other than traditional research. It not only flies in the face of everything we have been told about the need for a balanced portfolio, it also overlooks the need to recognize evolving interests and skills. It tends to exacerbate to dysfunctional levels all differences in perspective about what is valuable, both personally and institutionally.

The Provost continues:

"Given these observations, I intend to work with faculty and administrative groups to begin focusing on the following:

  1. making certain that there are clear criteria for assessing “impact”—whether in terms of research, teaching, or service in cases of promotion to professor; in all such cases, these criteria should involve both quantitative and qualitative measures, most of which will require seeking data from external sources rather than relying on purely internal ones
  2. ensuring clear identification of the bases for promotion to professor; these might well be focused on excellence in teaching or service, as well as knowledge creation;
"Measuring impact is always difficult, particularly when it comes to teaching and service. But it can be done if we focus on the significance of these activities as it extends beyond our own institution—just as we expect such broad effects with traditional scholarship. Thus, indicators of impact on other institutions, recognitions by professional associations, broad adoption of teaching materials (textbooks, software, etc.) by other institutions, evidence of effects on policy formulation, and so on—all these are appropriate independent indicators of effectiveness. And these indicators are no more nuanced or ambiguous than averaged SEI’s or lists of committees on which one has served.

One challenge I see is that the current review paradigm places heavy weight on external evaluation letters. However, such reviewers are only provided copies of a candidate's scholarly works and asked to comment only on a faculty member's 'scholarship.' Reviewers are not asked to comment on, or even provided evidence of, any activities that are seen by the review body as a part of the candidate's 'job.' Since these external letters are the only 'peer-review' evidence given to the review body they not only carry weight, they naturally make the deliberations focus on scholarship. Either a much broader body of evidence must be provided to these reviewers or targeted content experts will need to be identified to comment on very specific activities.

Another issue I see is the evaluation of the impact of a faculty member's activities. The current focus on traditional scholarship means that review bodies understand the journal impact factors or book reviews as the evidence of impact. How does one determine the impact of a web site that serves as an access point to a new body of knowledge or a piece of software that puts research in the hands of rural doctors three days sooner than previous delivery methods?

In any case, moving towards the vision outlined by Provost Alutto will require much more work by both the review body and the candidate. It is the prospect of moving towards a process that requires more work and time that will likely stand in the way of change and will slow down any adoption of the Provost's vision. Yet, he is clear:

"In effect, I believe that senior rank recognition, that is to say the awarding of the title of professor, should also be available to colleagues who have made visible and demonstrably outstanding contributions to the teaching and service missions of the Ohio State University."
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 08, 2010

2010 Medical Library Association Conference Community Portal

I was contacted the other week by members of the organizing committee for the Medical Library Association Conference, to be held May 21-26 in Washington, D.C. After a few emails and a conference call, I have agreed to help out by coordinating their first annual meeting online conference community portal.

What is a conference community? What can an 'attendee' expect?

In essence, the conference community is an online experience being built around MLA 2010 that allows attendees (both in person or virtual) to interact and share through various online social tools. Some of the content on the site will even be made available for association members that are not attending the conference.

Yes. Agreed. Nothing really new here. Such tools have been in use at conferences for years.

What IS new for (this) MLA is that many of these existing tools are being pulled together, with new ones added, and branded as the conference community portal.

We have also been given the green light by NPC representatives to use the portal as a sandbox for attendees to play around with other emerging tools. The specific tools that will be used are still in discussion / development and will be communicated through various conference channels in the coming weeks. Since this approach is all new to all of those involved, we will be making up most of it as we go.

I would love to hear from MLA members about those neat things you have seen developed for other conferences that we should consider adding to the MLA10 conference community portal.
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tom Sanville Resigns as OhioLINK Executive Director

In my in box yesterday morning was the news that Tom Sanville has submitted his resignation as Executive Director of OhioLINK, effective March 31.

The OhioLink system has grown and flourished primarly because of Tom's leadership (and by hiring a very talented staff!). When I came to Ohio State in 1992, OhioLINK was still crawling. The OhioLink system consisted of an ILS that included catalog creation and maintenance; the online public access catalog; circulation, interlibrary loan, and document delivery; acquisitions and serials control; and collection development and management.

While the OhioLink Library Catalog is still a centerpiece, the system now includes databases, a Digital Media Center, an E-Book Center, an Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center, and the Electronic Journal Center.

Just recently, I came across an old 1998 talking points document where I was touting the 1400 electronic journal titles made available to our users via OhioLink, from two publishers - Elsevier Science and Academic Press. (see: Diedrichs, CP. E-journals: the OhioLINK experience) By last year, the Electronic Journal Center contained more than 8,200 full-text research journals (12.2 million articles) from 100+ publishers.

Tom's reach went well beyond Ohio. If you are a part of a consortium that licenses electronic journals you should also thank Tom for his service. He was one of the pioneers in the establishment of consortium pricing from publishing giants like Elsevier. It is possible that one of the license agreements you have signed today (did I mention pricing?) grew from Tom's adept negotiation skills.

The text of his email announcement:

"I have submitted my resignation to Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, as Executive Director of OhioLINK. This will be effective March 31, 2010. This should ensure a full transfer of my almost 18 years of knowledge and files to other staff.

After my long tenure as director, this was a very difficult decision for me but I believe its the right one for me at this time. With the continued evolution of an integrated Educational Technology infrastructure and the OhioLINK staff’s role in it, and with the establishment of key strategic projects as reflected in the OhioLINK Fall 2009 Update, this is an appropriate time to resign my position and to seek new challenges.

In accepting my resignation the Chancellor has been gracious in recognizing that “OhioLINK is a wonderful example of the collaborations possible when many institutions work together with the support of the state to share resources and reduce costs. Your formative leadership in this effort is widely acknowledged and greatly appreciated… As educational technology and the format of academic materials rapidly changes, OhioLINK will be called on to play a critical role inexpanding the availability of new resources to all academic institutions and directly to students and faculty.”

The job of OhioLINK will never be done. It has been my greatest professional experience to have worked with the OhioLINK community and staff in building a world recognized library consortium. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve with so many wonderful colleagues and friends over the years."

Thank you, Tom, for sharing your vision and service to the state and the library profession.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Is a Twitterfarm Pranking the Jester?

One of the more interesting discussions I have read since rebooting from a long vacation has been the Twitter weirdness uncovered by the Disruptive Library Technology Jester (a.k.a Peter Murray)

It all started when the Jester authored a blog post detailing his ALA Midwinter meeting plans. It appears that others have been constructed tweets that consist of his blog post headlines with links back to his postings. This practice has increased dramatically in the past few weeks.

The Jester uses a WordPress plugin to inject posts into his Twitter stream. He runs the BackType service to uncover commentary found in other social media sites so they can be added as comments to his postings. It was the BackType service which alerted the Jester to the Twitter updates.

In all cases, the Twitter IDs used are unlike those of other spammers. The account names did not contain a string of numbers and had numerous followers. The Jester did notice one thing in common with all of these updates: they came from the Twitterfeed service.

The Jester speculates that these users are grabbing his blog post feed using Twitterfeed and are then syndicating it into their own Twitter streams. He has since analyzed this hypothesis and uncovered other blogs which are also being tweeted by others.

What is interesting is that the tweets of the Jester's blog post headlines are not spam in of themselves. The shortened URLs to his posts do not redirect the user to spam sites, but instead go to the original posts. However, the Twitter profiles of some of them contain profile URLs for spam.

In the comments of the Jesters post, D0r0th34 speculates and Mr. Gunn concurs, that the prank being performed on the Jester sounds like a Twitterfarm, a la Google linkfarm. Mr. Gunn observes:
"Many of the follower qualification tools use follower ratios to determine spamminess of followers. Additionally, there’s a parallel in "macro" blogging where presumptive search engine spiders are really just post harvesters. The point is to provide real or whitelisted content for getting around spam filters, increasing pagerank, or making it look like a twitter account has real non-spam content."
So, while the Jester's posts are not being used to propagate spam per say, it appears they are being used to make spammer user profiles look, well, a lot less spammy. I guess in a weird way that should make the Jester feel good. His content is good enough to make it around spam filters.

Still, it could be troubling for the Jester if the additional posts directed to his blog flag it for banning/autobury by those sites that keep a lookout for those who post too much (e.g. Digg).
Sphere: Related Content