Transcript Document

Using the Web to Conduct,
Manage and Disseminate
Lisa Spiro
[email protected]
Digital Media Center
May 2009
Image from
Starting Points
 What kind of research do you do?
 What do you find difficult about doing research online?
 What would be your dream tool for improving research
 Open up a discussion about the significance of
digital resources and tools for research
 Introduce you to some useful tools that can help you
 Find information
 Organize information
 Visualize information
 Disseminate information
The Internet was designed as a
research platform…
 In 1945, Vannevar Bush
proposed the Memex, a
system that would store and
rapidly retrieve information&
allow researchers to make
trails (links)
 In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a
researcher at CERN,
developed a plan for Web as
digital library system for
physics researchers
The Memex
Internet as Research Platform II
 2004 NSF Cyberinfrastructure report proposes
developing tools to advance e-science:
 Intense collaboration
 Data acquisition
 Data management
 Simulation
 Educational applications
NanoHUB: Web-based resource for nanotechnology offering
collaborative workspaces, simulations, teaching materials
Information Explosion:
A Challenge &
 Dutch researchers estimate that the Indexed Web
contains at least 30.24 billion pages
 The hidden web is estimated to be 500 times bigger
than the Indexed Web
 Approx 7 million books have been made available by
 See for up-to-date
ticker of amount of data produced in 2008
Challenges of Doing Research in the
Web 2.0 World
There’s so much information it’s difficult to
 find what you need
 discern quality
Not everything is in a digital form—you may be missing crucial
information by ignoring print (Anthony Grafton, 2007)
Searching may diminish the chance of serendipitous discovery
& reduce the number & quality of citations (James A.
Robinson, 2008)
It can be difficult to focus when so much information is swirling
around you (Nicholas Carr, 2008)
Search engines such as Google evaluate “popularity,” which
may not correlate to quality
Learning new approaches & tools requires time & sometimes $
Advantages of Doing Research in the
Web 2.0 World
 Access to richer variety of resources, from archival
materials to scientific data
 Speed & efficiency: you can search vast databases
from your desk
 Software + human intelligence enables
 Manipulation & analysis of data
 More quickly determining quality & relevance
 Organizing your research
 Sharing your research
 You can increase your visibility as a researcher by
using the Web effectively
Finding Tools to Manage
Information: The DiRT Wiki
(Lazy) Lisa’s Criteria for Choosing
a Tool
 It does what I want it to do
 I can learn how to use it in 5 minutes or less, or it’s
worth investing more time in.
 It’s either free or I can try before I buy
 There is an enthusiastic & significant user community
 I can get data that I put into the tool out of it if (when) I
need to
I. Finding & Evaluating
What makes it difficult to find
information online?
1. Fondren Goes Google: Aqua
Aqua Browser/ Search 360
 Search across content (catalog + 50 major databases)
with a single query
“My Discoveries”: save, tag, review, rate resources
See TOC, summary, cover of books
Refine searches through facets, e.g. filter by date,
subject heading
 This is “beta” software. Feedback welcomed.
 There is some lag time.
 Some find the interface overwhelming.
 Another option for “universal search”: Google
2. Google Show Options
 Click on “Show Options” to filter search by:
 Type (video, forums, reviews)
 Time (last 24 hours, past week, past year)
 Sort by date
 See images or more text on the page
 Related searches (often narrower)
 Timeline
 Wonder Wheel (visualize search & related terms)
3. Find Facts: Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha
 Developed by Stephen Wolfram of Mathematica
 Aims to make knowledge “computable”
 Works best with numbers and facts, e.g. calculations,
places, dates
 Sample searches:
 harris county texas income per capita
 (28 base 16) + (30 base 5)
 Hurricane katrina
 United States vs. Rwanda
Coming Soon: Google Squared
• Extracts facts about search topic & displays in
• Competitor to Wolfram Alpha?
Search for
“small dogs”
4. SearchMe: Visual Search
 Flip through images
 Add images to “stack”—share your stack
Evaluating Citations
 Determine how often an article you’re interested in has
been cited
 Google Scholar: see who cited a work
 Scopus: sophisticated citation analytics
 Evaluate who links to the site that you are looking at:
 In Google, enter “link: {url}”
Exercise 1: Search
 Visit
b=250 for links to search tools
 Select a research topic
 Experiment with at least 2 of the search engines we’ve
 What’s easiest to use?
 What seems to give you better results?
 What effect does changing your search terms have?
II. Organizing Digital Information
1. Saving & Sharing Links with
 Free, but ad-supported
 With Diigo toolbar, easily
save & annotate your
bookmarks online
Tag bookmarks so you can
find them
Highlight & annotate web
Email pages to pals
Create groups and lists
Find web pages others have
2. Organize Research Materials Using
 Zotero:
 “a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you
collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It
lives right where you do your work — in the web
browser itself.”
Developed by scholars at George Mason’s Center for
History & New Media
Efficient: Supports tagging, automatic download of
citation information and PDFs of articles
Search your collections
Innovative: Will ultimately support groups and
recommendation system, ability to store citations on
server, text visualization
Cite as your write once you install a Word plugin
How to Use Zotero
 Click on the page icon in
the address bar to
automatically download
citation info & assoc.
Alternatively, you can
add item from Zotero
Manually add cites with
the green +
Organize cites into
Add tags & relationships
to make everything more
Take notes
Zotero 2.0: Share Bibliographies
with Groups Online
3. Create a Personal Portal
How & Why to Create a Portal
 Aggregate online resources (a bio, publication list, RSS
feeds, images, etc) at a single site with minimal effort
Can serve as a start page for your research, a page
that you use to inform others of your research, or both
Information is online and available from any computer
“Widgets” include to-do lists, RSS feeds from news &
info sources, search tools, etc.
People can subscribe to the RSS feed for your portal
May be especially useful as a teaching tool, e.g.
Free services for creating research portals:
 PageFlakes:
 NetVibes:
Portals Use RSS Feeds
 RSS feeds allow you to subscribe to online content &
automatically receive notification of updates.
 Identify sites that have RSS feeds by looking for the
RSS icon
 Publications, e.g. the New York Times science
 Blogs, e.g. Lifehacker
 Journals, e.g. Nature or Victorian Studies
 You can use a service like to
create an RSS feed for pages that don’t support RSS
How to Use RSS
 Set up a feedreader such as:
 GoogleReader: (web-
based; translate feeds, share them, star them,
organize them, view trends, etc.)
 Portal, e.g. NetVibes
 Subscribe to the feed
 Browsers such as Firefox will usually display an icon
in the address bar if the site has a feed.
 Look for words such as subscribe, feed, rss, xml,
atom, or icons such as
Web Alerts
 Google Alerts:
 Be notified by email when
Google picks up results
relevant to search criteria
 Specify how often you’re
notified & what you search
 Filtrbox
 Specify search restrictions
 Get email alerts or view online
 View “trends” in alerts
 Share articles
Other Tools for Managing
 Mendeley: “free social software for managing and
sharing research papers.”
Devon: Store files, categorize them, take notes, run
sophisticated searches (Mac)
EverNote: Take notes, synchronize across devices
Papers (Mac)
Exercise 2
 Play with a tool for managing information (Diigo,
Zotero, Pageflakes, Netvibes, etc.)
 How might you use this to support your research?
 What are its limitations?
III. Visualize Information
Examples of Visualization Tools
1. Creating a Tag Cloud
 Visualize word frequency by creating your own tag
 Paste an HTML, Word, plain text, etc version of your
document into the software to make a tag cloud
 Tag cloud services:
 TagCrowd,
 Wordle:
Tag Crowd of Ch. 8
of Kelty’s Two Bits
2. Visualizing Data with
 Motivation: with visualization, “an unwieldy, unyielding
data set is transformed into an image on the screen,
and suddenly the user can perceive an unexpected
pattern…. Visualization is a catalyst for discussion
and collective insight about data” (ManyEyes)
Founded by 3 visualization experts working at IBM’s
Visual Communication Lab
Founders aim to “Democratize data”
Participatory: upload or download data; add
comments; participate in forums; rate data &
Interactive: query data, change parameters, zoom in
and out
How to Create a Many
Eyes Visualization
 Find data, e.g.
 Data that you have collected
 Census data
 Other data sources
 Massage data
 Get it into Excel or tab delimited format
 Standardize the values
 Upload into Many Eyes
 Select the appropriate visualization
 Example:
 CO2 Emissions by State
 Survival on the Titanic
3. Visualizing Data Using Swivel
 “Swivel's mission is to make data useful so people
share insights, make great decisions and improve
 Free data upload & visualization (fee for keeping data
private & secure)
 Features:
 Comparison
 Correlation
 Combination
 Toolbar for Excel (on PC)
 Example: Primary Education in Mali
4. Google Spreadsheets +
 Create spreadsheets using Google Docs (free)
 Collaborate
 Publish
 Visualize using charts & gadgets
 To create a visualization, select Insert> Gadgets> [type
of visualization] in Google Spreadsheets
 Getting the data into the right format can be tricky…
 Motion Chart example
Exercise 3: Data Visualization
 Working with a partner, explore the visualizations at
ManyEyes, Swivel, Wordle, or Google
 How might this tool be used to support your research?
What are its shortcomings?
IV. Share Your Research and
Raise Its Visibility
“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself
without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine,
receives light without darkening me.” (Thomas Jefferson)
The New Metrics of Scholarly Authority?
Information abundance = shift in
establishing scholarly authority
 Old model: scholarly credentials,
peer review, # of citations
 Web 2.0 model: “collective
intelligence,” e.g. Amazon
recommendations, votes, tagging
 Web 3.0: “algorithmic filtration” of
authority based on…
 Prestige of publisher, author,
 Links to article
 Discussions in blogspace,
comments in posts, etc.
 Nature of the language in
comments: positive, negative
 Inclusion of a document in lists
of "best of," in syllabi, indexes
 Types of tags assigned to it
 Etc.
Michael Jensen, “The New
Metrics of Scholarly Authority”
Chronicle Review (6/15/2007)
Increasing Visibility: The Case of
 1/29/2009: 69 visits to
home page
 1/30: DiRT included in
Scout Report: 902 visits
 2/3: DiRT blogged by
Cathy Davidson &
referenced by Brett
Bobley: 492 visits on
 2/4: DiRT included in
MetaFilter: 730 visits on
Contribute to Rice’s Institutional
Finding Information at Fondren
 You can type the name of a favorite database into the
search bar at the Fondren web site
To get a list of resources relevant to a particular field,
Follow the Full Text at Fondren link to get the text, if
Ask a reference librarian for help (you can even do so
through online chat)
Get research tips from Fondren Library on Twitter:
 Tools come and go. To avoid getting trapped,
choose tools that:
 Are fairly mature
 Have a number of adopters
 Allow you to easily export data in standard formats.
 Watch out for viruses.
 You may be sacrificing some privacy (or dignity) in
exchange for access to some tools.
 Sometimes you can waste a lot of time learning a
new tool that doesn’t do what you thought it would
More Info
 Find links cited in this talk at
 Visit DiRT ( to
find more information about digital research tools--and
please provide feedback