Webometric Thoughts

July 22, 2011

Google Scholar Citations – The case of David Stuart

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:32 am

One of the problems with having a great name like “David Stuart” is that everybody wants it. There are seemingly millions of us out there, with hundreds of thousands in academia alone! The briefest of web searches will find David Stuart the mathematician at the University of Cambridge , David Stuart the Mayanist at the University of Texas , and of course David Stuart the great webometrician now at King’s College London. Added to this the problem of multiple David Stuarts is compounded by people who think Stuart can also be used as Christian name as well, e.g., David Stuart Davies, Google trying to help with alternative spellings, e.g., Dave Stewart. All this means that it can be extremely difficult to keep track of my publications on services such as Google Scholar.

Keeping track of my publications and how they are being cited is not just about vanity searching (although admittedly there is a bit of that). It’s also about keeping track of work that is likely to be of interest to me, helping me understand the impact my work is having, and helping other people distinguish between my work and that of other people called David Stuart (i.e., separating the wheat from the chaff). Google has now made this easier with Google Scholar Citations! Go to Google Scholar now, and do a search for David Stuart and between two highly cited papers on HIV, you will a link to my academic profile.

Clicking on this link will show the 29 articles that I have individually added to my profile (although there is the option of adding them automatically, the popularity of my name means this wasn’t suitable in my case), and may be trusted to the extent I can be trusted. Clicking through presents the full list of my publications and some stats about my citations.

As well as basic citation information for my overall collection of work, it is also possible to look more closely at one particular paper. For example looking more closely at my most cited paper it would seem as though it’s best days are behind it as it got less citations in 2010 than in 2009.

Google Scholar is a very useful service and it’s great to see it continuing to develop [could we have an API next please]. Whilst it doesn’t provide the quality of services such as the Web of Science or Scopus, it fills a gap in the market by including a far wider range of publications and making the service universally accessible. Allowing users to create profiles provides the possibility of more structure to be imposed on the  service. At the moment it’s in a limited launch, and none of the people I have worked with have created profiles. Once they do, however, and they are listed on my profile as my ‘colleagues’, it will be far easier to make use of our academic networks in finding useful information.

Unsurprisingly, as with any new service, there will are some things I don’t like, so here’s a few of my thoughts as I entered my details.

  • Verification by an academic email address. It seems bizarre that my profile is now public as it is verified by a King’s College London email address, which doesn’t appear on any of my articles, whereas I couldn’t have had a public account eight months ago despite having access to the email accounts that actually appear on the papers!
  • Embedding profiles/citation information. It would be great if there was a simple way to embed some of this data in my web pages.
  • More citation indices. There are many more citation indices than the H-index and i10-index, and it would be good if Google Scholar included more or, even better, allowed us to set the parameters (e.g., self citations) or the publications that are included (e.g., only first author or sole author papers)
  • Differentiate between publication types. My profile page shows a list of publications, but you have to go into each one to see the type of publication.
  • Sort by author. You can sort my list of publications by year, citations, and title/author. It does not allow sorting by author alone, which is important as people are often most interested in papers where a person is first author.
  • Public/private. You can either have your profile as public or private, but not part public, part private. I have a number of publications in professional magazines rather than academic journals, and whilst I want to keep track of them myself, I don’t necessarily want them listed on my public profile.
  • Compounding errors.  When adding records manually you have to add them in such a way that Google Scholar can associate it with a record in it’s database. This means that if Google Scholar has an error, you have to compound the error to include the citation data. For example, I wrote the article “Programming skills could transform librarians’ roles” in 2009, but it’s listed in Google Scholar as 2010, unless I enter it as 2010 it won’t identify the appropriate citations. In this case the difference is relatively minor,  but they are not always so. It should be possible for me to match my record to the one in Google Scholar even if they are not exactly the same. Importantly this would enable Google Scholar’s community of users to improve the Google Scholar database.

June 6, 2011

Dear API Creators…[A RANT]

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:54 pm

A decent API can be a wonderful thing, allowing a host of innovative products to build up around a core service, and as such add value to the core service. Everyone’s a winner! If you want an example you need look no further than Twitter. Would Twitter really have taken off to the extent it did without numerous developers building around it? Probably not.

Unfortunately whilst some organizations pay lip-service to the idea of anAPI, their controlling culture means they stop the innovation they are meant to encourage. The latest (and by no means the first) API to annoy me is from Transport for London:

My initial joy at an official API soon turned to annoyance. Rather than allowing me to play with the data and seeing what I can do with it, I am expected to fill in a form beforehand explaining who I am and what I want to do! There is nothing wrong with asking me to sign up and with an email address, but should my phone number be mandatory?

And what if I don’t have an IP address? What if I want to create an application for my mobile, that will sit on my mobile and have a different IP address every time I use it?And even if I did know what I was planning to do with the data, the idea that I would have any idea what the audience would be is just stupid.When creating an API don’t try and gather all the information you can, just gather the information you absolutely need. And if you need too much, improve your API so you don’t have to ask for so much! Every form and field that you insist on including in the sign-up will dissuade numerous developers from innovating around your services. Everyone loses.

Was this API worth the months of waiting? No. #barclayscyclefail

June 2, 2011

Do people tweet because they are bored, or does tweeting make them bored?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:36 am

As I have mentioned in this blog before, I am very easily distracted. Especially when it comes to the working day, during which I will probably check my emails a thousand times, and Twitter twice as often (see my old personal circle of distraction here).  I am by no means alone in this, around the world at any one time millions of people are on Twitter and Facebook [how old fashioned] as they try to distract themselves from the tedium of work. But rather than making their working hours more enjoyable, is it actually making the day less enjoyable? Probably.

Last week I was reading Dan Ariely’s The Upside of Irrationality, an enjoyable behavioural economics book  (albeit not quite as enjoyable as his earlier Predictably Irrational). In it Dan spends some time talking about adaption; how we can get used to our personal situation over time. For instance, if we win the lottery, we may initially be thrilled, but we quickly get used to it over time.

The process of adaption is equally true for dealing with less pleasant experiences, such as work. If we have a large piece of work to complete that is not particularly interesting, if we work on it solidly we will adapt to it over time, but if we constantly break off from the work we will never fully adapt to the situation and will actually make the work harder for ourselves.

Today we find ourselves in a situation where many of us are constantly breaking off from our jobs, momentary boredom sees us instantly firing up the browser window and surfing the web. Whilst I can hardly imagine a world where I wouldn’t have that opportunity to do so, I’m not convinced that it’s made the my working day any better, especially when I have specific tasks to do. Before the heady days of academia I had some of the world’s worst jobs – 12 hour shifts taking the shells off of hard-boiled eggs being a particular highlight – and whilst the task of writing an academic paper is far more enjoyable than that of trussing chickens (another of my many jobs), the fact that I constantly break off from the task means it doesn’t always feel like it.

May 14, 2011

Real Football Fans Support Stoke

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:27 pm

It’s FA Cup final day, and I’ll be putting my feet up in front of the TV and watching it in the hope that Stoke can upset the odds and beat Manchester City. It’s nothing personal against MCFC, purely a money thing. If Man City win, it’s because they have a lot of money; if Stoke win it’ll have a lot more to do with hard work. Whilst football is just a game (despite what Bill Shankly said), it’s nonetheless a shame to see something that means so much to so many people reduced to who has the biggest wallet. Stoke winning the FA Cup would buck that trend slightly.

Personally I’m a Norwich fan, and have had my own reasons to be joyful this season with Norwich winning promotion to the premiership. However I wouldn’t go as far as to claim it to be the ‘miracle’ the Norwich manager did. Plotting the points earned against the wealth of the various clubs’ owners (a rough guide to potential investment and ambitions for the club) and you see Norwich actually had a solid, workman-like result. It seems to have had as much to do with Sheffield Utd, Preston, and Watford, not reaching their potential as anything Norwich did. The real miracle will be if Swansea manage to win the play-offs.

Fans will argue that there’s a lot more to football than the size of the owners wallets. Money may not guarantee success, but it makes it a lot easier.

Estimated wealth of Stoke owner – £400 million <–that’s £60 million less than the Norwich owners.

Estimated wealth of Manchester City owner – £17,800 million.

August 18, 2010

Writing for different audiences: academic journals, professional magazines, and blog posts

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:39 pm

Having just read an article on the differences in the readability of texts in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Arts and Humanities, I decided to distract myself from my massive pile of work with a quick and dirty investigation into the readability of my own writing in an attempt to answer the question:

Does my writing differ according the audience?

Methods adopted

Microsoft Word was used to analyse the readability of 15 texts: five academic papers where I was the primary author; five feature articles I have written for Research Information; and five blog posts I have written for www.davidstuart.co.uk. All tables, pictures, and bullet points were extracted from the documents before carrying out the analysis. The were analysed in terms of:

  • Number of words per sentence - generally speaking longer sentances may be considered more difficult to understand.
  • Characters per word – longer words are considered more difficult.
  • Number of passive sentence – passive sentaces are thought to inhibit the flow of reading and make it more difficult.
  • Flesch reading ease – a readability test where the higher the number the simpler it is thought to be. [0.0 - 30.0: best understood by university graduates].

If my writing does indeed vary according to the audience, it would be expected that the results would look like this:

Academic Articles Professional Magazines Blog Posts
Words per sentence Highest Middle Lowest
Characters per word Highest Middle Lowest
Passive sentences (%) Highest Middle Lowest
Flesch Reading Ease Lowest Middle Highest

With the academic articles being more difficult to read than the professional articles, and the blog posts being the easiest to read of all.

Results

Academic Papers:


1 2 3 4 5 Average
Words per sentence 26.8 26.3 33.0 29.6 31.6 29.46
Characters per word 5.1 5.5 5.2 5.1 5.4 5.26
Passive sentences (%) 26 56 52 42 48 44.8
Flesch Reading Ease 35.2 22.7 27.6 30.3 17.2 26.6

Professional Magazines:


1 2 3 4 5 Average
Words per sentence 24.3 25.6 24.5 26.2 24.6 25.04
Characters per word 5.2 5.2 4.9 5.1 5.2 5.12
Passive sentences (%) 16 5 18 33 14 17.2
Flesch Reading Ease 35.0 34.6 40.8 32.1 30.2 34.54

Blog Posts:


1 2 3 4 5 Average
Words per sentence 30.0 28.5 22.0 26.1 30.3 27.38
Characters per word 4.7 4.8 4.8 4.6 4.9 4.76
Passive sentences (%) 10 15 30 9 11 15
Flesch Reading Ease 48.5 39.2 47.1 46.0 26.9 41.54

Whilst I may not think that there are vast differences in the writing style or vocabulary I use in different forums, reducing it to a few crude numbers would certainly suggest that there are. The only unexpected result was that there were more words per sentance within my blog posts than within my professional magazine articles.

It is also comforting to see that the numbers go in the right direction. If I had discovered that my blog posts were more turgid than my academic articles, it would have probably been time to hang up my keyboard.

Conclusions

The main conclusion is that I am far too easily distracted from work, and if I continue I will probably end up in the poorhouse….although it might be interesting to do a webometric study combining readability with impact factor….

August 12, 2010

Cheap Hotels in Wolverhampton – the Webometric City

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:03 am

After locking myself out of my flat on Tuesday in a moment of stupidity I’ve spent the last two nights staying in a couple of Wolverhampton’s cheaper hotels. As such I though I would give them a quick review. It’s a bit off topic, even for me, but as everyone interested in webometrics eventually comes to Wolverhampton to see Guru Mike, I thought I’d write the post anyway.

Anyone looking for a cheap hotel in Wolverhampton is likely to quickly come across the Britannia Hotel and the Connaught Hotel. Both are large hotels offering double rooms for £39 a night, and as I had two nights until my girlfriend’s return I thought I would compare the two.

Britannia Hotel

The Room – I was given a double room overlooking the main road, which meant it was quite noisy, even on a Tuesday night.  It had seen better days and there was a noticeable mark on the carpet where the radiator had leaked in the distant past, but it was clean and comfortable. The usual tea, coffee, kettle, and a couple of biscuits.

The Bathroom – The usual soaps, shower gels, shower caps, and a shoeshine kit, and about a million towels.

The TV – Just the five terrestrial channels (and Sky News if memory serves me correctly).

Breakfast – Booking online meant that breakfast was included in the price. It was a buffet breakfast including all the cooked breakfast essentials – even the all important black pudding.

Bars & Restaurant – As well as its own restaurant the hotel has its own bar – The Wave Bar. The Britannia web site claims that it’s a “regular meeting place for theatre-goers”, but I am doubtful. It’s a very cheap bar, and the clientele tend to be locals who are there all day long. Luckily as the hotel is in the centre of town there are plenty of other  places to get a drink.

Service - The staff were polite and efficient.

Connaught Hotel

The Room – I was given a room at the back of the hotel, but it was by no means quiet, lots of noise from the lift. The room had a stupidly sized bed, as it was in fact two single beds pushed together. Nonetheless clean and tidy, and not as rundown as the Britannia.

The Bathroom – Shower gel – like it or lump it – which is very annoying as I’m a soap man and was in the mood to shine my shoes.

The TV – The main five, plus half a dozen others, including Sky 1, Sky Sports News, and Nickelodeon.

Breakfast – To have breakfast included was £45 (£52 for two people). I don’t know if it was just because it was quiet, but rather than a cooked breakfast buffet you had to order it. Full English consisted of 2 sausages, bacon, fried egg, beans, and half a tomato; which is pretty rubbish as it costs £9.95 if its not included in your room price -although you can have as much cereal and toast as you want. Unfortunately breakfast was accompanied by GMTV on a giant screen.

Bars and Restaurant – The hotel seems addicted to have ITV1 on televisions in public rooms, and my evening meal was accompanied by Emmerdale in the hotel bar. Both the beer and the food were expensive for a cheap hotel: £3.20 for a pint of Carling, and £9.95 for a burger and chips. However, by being a bit further out of town they have a captive audience. In the end I paid £10.05 for a cheese sandwich, some onion rings, and a pint of Carling. It definitely wasn’t worth the money, and despite asking me twice whether I wanted the onion rings and sandwich at the same time, they came about 10minutes apart.

Service – Bloody awful from first to last. Despite booking through the hotel’s web site, and giving my card details at the time, they had no record of my booking or paying; this means I now have to keep an eye on my bank account for the next couple of days to see if they’ve charged me twice. Ordering both drinks and breakfast involved a lot of standing around waiting for staff to appear, or else trying to hunt them down. Even checking out the hotel was annoying, as the receptionist failed to even bother looking up from the computer screen as I handed her the key and she grunted a response. And for some reason the hotel has decided to save on signs, so if you want to know where anything is bar, restaurant, lift, or toilet, you have to ask.

Conclusion

Next time I lock myself out I’ll be choosing the Britannia for a cheap Wolverhampton hotel. It may be more rundown than the Connaught, but I preferred the overall experience. Those who prefer their hotels ‘all fur coat no knickers’ will prefer the Connaught -  their addiction to ITV1 says it all.

[Nb. I locked myself out without  my laptop, so have no experience of the wi-fi, and I don't really have enough hair to test the hairdriers.]

[UPDATE: Indeed the Connaught Hotel did charge me twice! It turns out they charged me once for taking the room, and once for failing to turn up and take the room!!! They have assured me I will be getting a refund, although I don't have much confidence in their abilities.]

August 7, 2010

Lazy Lazy Daily Mail…probably want handouts too…

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:23 am

If you are going to write a piece about how lazy people on benefits are, it’s probably a good idea not to resort to extremely lazy journalism.  Today the Daily Mail are having another rant about people on benefits:

Britain’s benefits bonanza: How 100,000 households rake in more than average wage in welfare every year

Such stories are just part of the usual right-wing crap – along with bringing back hanging, workhouses, and compulsory Latin. They couple their news story with the details of the Davey family’s lifestyle – 42″ tv, people carrier, etc…obviously to the average Daily Mail reader anything more than gruel, sterilization, and a sound thrashing is too good for them.

What is clearly missing from the story is the fact the Claire Davey deserves every penny as a national treasure! She’s about 11 months pregnant with her eighth child by my calculations. When they first wheeled the family out on April 13th she was 7 months pregnant, and when they repeated the story 3 days later they were even more  precise saying she had 9 weeks to go, and today she is seven weeks overdue! Will she ever have her eighth baby, or will she just keep growing larger and larger as the Daily Mail wheel the family out again and again.

There are a couple of points here: 1) the Daily Mail is a crap newspaper 2) Shouldn’t someone be stepping in to stop the repeating of a story with no news value which is so obviously to the detriment of the children (if indeed the family even exists).

[nb. Oops - this post was actually intended for my Politico-Mania blog...oh well.]

July 26, 2010

N900 – The best upgrade since the N95

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 11:16 am

On Friday my eighteen month contract for my HTC Touch Pro finally came to an end, and the time came to choose a new phone. As usual most of my Twitter followers suggested I should get an iPhone, and as usual my response was – NEVER. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I come from the 10 Print ‘Hello’; 20 Goto 10 generation and I want something that’s as open as possible that I can play about with, and I will happily sacrifice a seamless user-interface to get it.

So my phone of choice – Nokia’s N900:

Actually Nokia don’t market it as a phone, in fact it’s a small Linux(Maemo)-based tablet computer that happens to have some phone capabilities – even something as universal as MMS requires the installing of  an additional application. Nonetheless it is a great little computer, and pretty much anything you can do on a Linux laptop you can do on the N900, including running OpenOffice and GIMP. When I updated from an N95 to the HTC Touch Pro I was disappointed that I didn’t notice a significant difference in what I could do with the HTC, this time I really can.

Great things about the N900:

  • A great browser with Flash 9.4 – I’ve pretty much stopped using apps to interact with web sites as the N900 browsing experience is so close to that of the desktop. You can even interact with the full versions of Google Wave and Google Docs! It’s also great for the streaming of BBC content – one day everyone will use HTML 5 and we won’t need Flash, but for now I’d rather be with it than without it.
  • FM Transmitter – I’m not sure when I’ll ever need an FM transmitter, but nonetheless there is something very enjoyable about transmitting your own sounds through the radio.
  • FCam (and FCamera) – An open source C++ API to help create new camera applications – i.e., Camera 2.0.
  • Macro lens:

On top of which the usual essentials, e.g., GPS, QWERTY keyboard, touch screen, massive storage (32GB!!).

The N900 is by no means a phone suitable to everyone, but if you were the sort of person who mourned the passing of the home computer in favour of the next generation of consoles, then the N900 is for you. In fact, the chances are there will be an emulator of your old home computer available, and with a QWERTY keyboard and 3.5″ screen there are no excuses not to be programming away on it.

July 22, 2010

Who reads my Webometric Thoughts?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:35 am

I still haven’t fallen back into the blogging habit since changing over from Blogger, but does anyone really care about my missing thoughts? Well, during the change-over period I got the opportunity to build up a fuller picture of my some of my readers – for the first time some people clicked on the Amazon links and bought some books!

So what do my readers pay to read? Highly insightful works on social media, library and information science, and various metrics? Do they take into account the books I’ve read and recommended (or at least linked to)?

The only book someone bought that I had actually linked-to or read was Click: What We Do Online and Why It Matters, although one of my readers also bought Web Analytics: An Hour a Day.
The most books, however, were sold to a demographic my blog had mostly been ignoring – the teenager girl into vampire romance:

I’m not sure why someone would decide to buy 4 Twilight books after reading about a monkey on Chatroulette – but that person made me £0.88!

June 30, 2010

A new blog…with the same old content…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 12:37 pm

I have not updated my Webometric Thoughts for almost 3 months, the reason being that Blogger stopped allowing the FTP, thanks Google. As such I was stuck with a blog that I couldn’t update…at which point it pretty much stopped being a blog. Anyway, I have finally managed to get around to installing WordPress and importing all 471 of the old blog posts.

I still have to pick a theme, and then add all the side bar junk that is essential to any blog, but hopefully it will be a visual delight sooner rather than later. There will, without a doubt be a few teething problems as old and new URLs fail to match-up, and other issues I have yet to think of, but hopefully those problems will be solved in the next couple of days.

If you want to see what the original Webometric Thoughts looked like, or are occassionally nostalgic for Blogger’s old fashioned ways, you can always relive Webometric Thoughts in it’s traditional glory at oldwebometrics.blogspot.com

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