Sunday, December 12, 2010

Acasocial Networking Update

Back in August of 2009, I posted the results of a little experiment I conducted. Specifically, I posted some papers to several Acasocial portals to see what happened. I was particularly interested in Time-to-Google-Scholar, in an attempt to make my stuff more available for others to cite. Part of academia is, after all, getting cited. Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion; while making my work more easily accessible won't guarantee citations, if no one can find it it sure as hell won't get cited!

You can read my previous post for The Way Things Were; after assessing the features of each, I determined that "The real winner here is SelectedWorks. I can see people are accessing and downloading my stuff. It is totally easy to update my site. And, time to Google Scholar for everything (book, journal articles, conference papers) = 1 month."

In the year and a bit since I posted my results, a lot has happened. Here's an update: I am still using Mendeley as a reference management tool. In fact, I abandoned EndNote in favor of Mendeley for this purpose. Mendeley lets me access and manage my bibliography from any computer with internet access and to grab .pdfs from my personal library. From any computer with the Mendeley desktop installed, I can access, upload, read, and make comments in .pdf files. I've put Mendeley Desktop on my home computer, my laptop, and my computer at work. The ready access to my research library has been invaluable. Mendeley's incorporation of DOI has made adding journal articles to my database fast and painless.

But there is more to Mendeley. One advantage to the bibliography software is that you can group papers by whatever topics you like. Mendeley gives you the opportunity to make those groups public so you can easily share your bibliography with others, and (depending on how public you make it) can collaborate with others. I made several of my groups public, and have had several people join them. I haven't yet taken advantage of the collaboration/discussion abilities. A new improvement that I quite like is the ability to find publications related to ones I have in my bibliography; to do so, I just click the button from within the Desktop and a window opens in my browser showing how many others have that article in their databases, and a list of similar publications. I can add these other publications to my database with a quick click.

Mendeley has a free option (1GB storage space); they also have very reasonably-priced paid options (up to 15GB storage space). Their support folks are very, very responsive and helpful.

CiteULike: Although I reviewed this back in August 2009, I quit using it. Too clunky, and I much preferred Mendeley. I have no update for you. Still Facebook for academics. People are finding me and my publications via Academia (and I can see how often and when my stuff is accessed), but this isn't the real strength of the site. For me, there are three main strengths at Academia: 1) being able to follow specific journals; 2) being able to follow specific topics; 3) an environment conducive to contacting researchers.

1. Being able to follow specific journals. This is a relatively new feature, but may actually be the best part. I have pretty wide-ranging interests (I am, after all, a fox), but can't afford the money or time to follow printed journals. With, I can "Follow" particular journals; when they come out with new issues (or pre-publish stuff to the 'net), I see the table of contents in my feed. If a particular article interests me, I click on the feed, grab the citation, and pop over to my Friendly Neighborhood Inter-Library Loan Request Form (a total, total perk to my adjunctivity) and within a couple of days, have a .pdf version in my email. I can also see which journals others are following; I've found several of interest this way. I've found some really great stuff this way, in journals that I'd normally never read.

2. Being able to follow specific topics. Following particular researchers is great (though there are several people whose work I'd love to follow who haven't signed up to Academia yet); being able to follow particular areas of research is super-great. I've found publications and researchers using this feature that I'd not previously been aware of.

3. An environment conducive to communication. It is very easy to send a short note to others via Academia. I've had some very good exchanges with others, generally prompted by reading a paper they'd (or I'd) just posted. The setup, whereby you can read someone's paper and send them a note from the same page, that makes this sort of communication easy. Though people without an account on Academia can see my basic profile, they cannot see my updates nor send me notes without signing up. So far, I've not been on the receiving end of any weird/abusive notes.

One more note about Academia: their technical support is super-easy to access (there's a field at the bottom left of every page) and super-responsive.

SelectedWorks: No real changes here since last August. But still my favorite place to get my stuff "out there" -- fast to Google Scholar, monthly updates with statistics of downloads, and emailed notifications for whatever search criteria you give them. Not as "networky" as Academia, but I've still found papers this way (especially conference proceedings and gray literature) that haven't surfaced elsewhere. As best I can tell, more people are finding my work via SelectedWorks than all the others combined.

To my surprise, I ran experiments on four sites and ended up using three of them on a regular basis. I was expecting to find one place to dump my stuff to make it easily accessible online. What I ended up with was a suite of Acasocial Networking tools that have made my research and organization more efficient; exposed me to new research; allowed me to easily collaborate; and make my stuff more easily accessible.

1 comment:

Ink said...

Wow, it's all so interesting. I didn't know you could follow academic journals at Haven't signed in there long time! Thanks for the info, Digger.

And hooray for Wilderness Tips! ("Death by Landscape" still haunts me...)