Predatory journals – watch the scams

Part of our information literacy expertise is to engage in reading of (and contributing to) quality research.  This requires that we understand exactly what ‘reputation’ is!

If you are not ‘up-to-date’ with the evil intentions of “predatory journals” you’ll get a kick out of reading this article from Science Alert and learn something along the way. From Science Alert: A study by Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel has been accepted by two scientific journals.

A fictional paper authored by Simpsons characters Edna Krabappel and Maggie Simpson, as well as someone called Kim Jong Fun (who we can only imagine is a slightly more approachable relative of North Korea’s leader) has just been accepted into two scientific journals.

Perhaps most troublingly, in Feburary 2014, a pair of science publishers (Springer and IEEE) retracted more than 120 papers, some of which were pure nonsense (created by the same program used for the Simpsons paper) but had made it into their published conference proceedings. Both these publishers are generally seen as reliable — showing how far the problem of substandard quality control goes.

Open Access has become a major theme of interest within the research community and those interested in dissemination of information and knowledge. In most cases, open-access publishing will occur through electronic institutional repositories – university websites where one can freely download researchers’ articles. Search engines such as Google Scholar will automatically index these articles and link them to related research. The resulting stream of freely available research will be a boon for our society and economy. But it’s not perfect, just a step in the right direction, as publishers also get ‘a say’ in what happens with published information.

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers

The gold open-access model has given rise to a great many new online publishers. Many of these publishers are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.

Scholarly Open Access showcased the Beall List of Predatory Publishers 2014. The first includes questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. Each of these publishers has a portfolio that ranges from just a few to hundreds of individual journal titles. The second list includes individual journals that do not publish under the platform of any publisher — they are essentially independent, questionable journals.

In both cases, the recommendation is that researchers, scientists, and academics avoid doing business with these publishers and journals. Likewise, students should exercise some caution when reading and referencing these articles in their own academic learning.

Follow Scholarly Open Access for more insights into the contentious field of Open Access publishing.

Remix culture as a creative and professional habit

Yesterday the Charles Sturt University ICT Community of Practice had one of it’s regular afternoon forums, campus-wide, in meeting spaces, and via online conferencing. It’s a great way to bring people together from various faculties and disciplines. The focus in on sharing – not quite a PechaKucha, but close to it with just 10 minutes to share a few nuggets of gold!

As one of the invited presenters, my focus was on creativity and the use of images. This is based on the fact that I want teachers to understand remix culture (when it comes to images); use of creative commons and various sources of free images; image attribution; and visual presentation for blogging and creating presentations. With the 10-minute presentation I also included one of the regular updates that I provided my teacher/students in the Digital Citizenship in Schools subject to help springboard ideas.

The trick of course is to engage teachers from all ends of the spectrum of ICT prowess. So for the newbies, an introduction to flickr and other CC image sources is a must. For the geeks an introduction to tools like Alan Levines wonderful FlickrCC Image Attribution Helper is a must!

A lovely lecturer in Veterinary Science contacted me later to let me know she was excited by the ideas and would be weaving what she has leaned into her work. How cool is that? To be able to share across disciplines in this way is future learning methinks!

Understanding remix culture as a creative and professional habit IS  about understanding creativity and copyright!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by A. Diez Herrero

Content curation is the new black

Content curation crops up over and over again – so a whole issue on the topic from the wonderful school librarians in New Zealand is worth a read! Tossing ideas around, and finding ways to harness tools to our purpose is part of the daily challenge.

So here is the latest issue of their Collected Magazine, free for the taking! It’s all about content curation or “articles to help you add to your collection development bag of tricks!”I I was lucky to be invited to write a lead article title..you guessed it..Content curation is the new black!

You will find articles about the following:

Curating content for creative reuse (Ester Casey)
Content curation as a marketing tool (Peter Murgatroyd)
Exploring Scoop.it (Hillary Greenebaum)
Using LiveBinders (Senga White)
and more…

By the way, what a great use of an online magazine publishing tool – your organisation, school or library can put out good digital publications for information, promotion, or sharing. Your students can get involved too.

Visit ISSUU at http://issuu.com/miriamtuohy/docs/may2012/1 if you want to subscribe to their magazine on a regular basis or to learn more about the product.

Computational thinking ~ really?

I’m a great fan of ISTE, and love to get updates and information about things that are happening. In my email today were a few tidbits that made me stop and think.

Wow, that’s crazy is more like the sentiment that crossed my mind.

The buzz word this time was “computational thinking”.  Perhaps this is a term that is embedded in curriculum frameworks in North America, but I was a little saddened to see thinking in a digital age being described by such a mechanised term. Seriously –  thinking is thinking, and calling it computational thinking seemed to me to reflect that educators are not understanding the immersive nature of  21st century learning environments.

It’s like saying ‘water swimming’ instead of ‘swimming’. How else would you swim except in water?  So in 21st century environments, how else would you facilitate thinking except with the power of technology – that may or may not be ‘computational’ by the way! I do understand the need to still talk about digital age skills, because so many teachers are still struggling with being digital. I really don’t want to  bury 21st century thinking terms like this.

Computational thinking reminds me of the the Hungarian word for computers (when they don’t use the English word, which is most of the time now). A computer is a  számítógép – which literally means adding machine.  See how that shows the origins of the term?  Computational thinking is like an old term for a new idea – one that is actually NOT new at all anymore!

However, the video is good, and has some great ideas. Wish we just didn’t have the term!

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Katherine Squier

Google Verbatim – what’s that?

Google has a verbatim search mode which looks for exactly what you type. Get it?  ver.ba.tim Adverb:In exactly the same words as were used originally: “recite the passage verbatim”; “verbatim quotes”.

Wait, isn’t all of Google search like that?   No way kids! Actually, Google used to have that functionality  with a well-known (but, they say, little used) “+” operator. And then they dropped it…..and then Twitter exploded!

As Wired told it “Google phased out the + operator yesterday, which means I now have to “quote” “every” “term” “like” “this”. Nobody else finds this annoying?” Many of us found it annoying, and Google seemed to end up agreeing.  Less than a month later Google has added a search option which makes the not-outrageous assumption that what you type is actually what you wanted to search the web for. “Verbatim” is not the default setting — so Google will still fix what it thinks is a spelling error, and search for that — unless you turn on verbatim search.

Your search query is just the starting point for Google’s searches. Sometimes Google fixes misspellings, replaces some of the keywords with synonyms or other related keywords, disambiguates your query using your search history.

Philip Bradley explains it all in detail, step by step.

You need to check this latest change (enhancement?) out, and be sure to pass this information on to all your students – young and old.

What is interesting is that in Chrome I can turn Google Instant on or off, and that there is a suggestion that Chrome will also soon include the same option for Verbatim.

As Google explains it as you start to type your search terms, Google Instant automatically shows results for a popular search that begins with those letters. If you don’t see the results you want, just keep typing and the results will dynamically update.

This very ‘dynamic’ nature of google instant is a smokescreen to make us feel successful. But since fast search doesn’t necessarily mean intelligent search, and since Google’s adjustment of my basic search is equally confusing at times, it just may be that turning off Google Instant and turning on Verbatim as the default for students can take us back to teaching the key elements of search – choice of the best search terms and strategies.

Oh wait!  Your institutition might not let you use Chrome?  Never mind – just be sure to update your integration of search strategies in your curriculum practices. On the other the sort of customisations that Chrome can offer for key things like ‘search’ might be just another reason to beg for Chrome deployment on your devices!


Top image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by Yersinia

Zotero and the e-book winner!

Today I made my mind up – I had to get myself a copy of Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers, and Educators.

Zotero is an important part of my productivity suite., and I wanted to grab a copy of the book to make sure that I was actually using Zotero to its full potential. This guide is written by Jason Puckett who is the the Communication Librarian at Georgia State University Library in Atlanta, where he teaches library classes on research and information literacy skills, bibliographic software, and library technology topics.

If you work in schools then you need to read what Stacey Tayor has written about  Using Zotero with Students.

Now it’s time for me to ‘fess up to my personal book trail, and how e-book services again won the day.

  1.  Read a post that reminded me that I want to get a copy of the book, and I really should get on with it.
  2. Check availability on Book Depository. Fail.
  3. Check my university library. Fail. (Amazing – so I placed a purchase request)
  4. Check Amazon. $32.40 for print copy.
  5. Whispernet to my iPad for $12.00.
Whose services are the winner here?  This time it was not my library!

Teacher librarians are important


Web 2.0 revolutionized the means at our disposal to filter and share information. Whether by managing information by social bookmarking or RSS reads and feeds, or communicating with our school community via blogs, wikis, podcasts, YouTube, or Facebook, students, teachers and school librarians have entered into digital conversations. Widgets, portals, Apps, Feeds and Aggregators and more now provide us with our ‘tools of trade’ for information curation.

The importance of the teacher librarian is intrinsically linked to effective and responsive information curation and dissemination in distributed environments within and beyond the school. Use of Web 2.0 tools has become embedded in good practice, and information curation has extended beyond the library catalogue to library and school information management systems for bibliographic and media resources, and various organizational tools that reside beyond the school in web environments, such as Libguides, Diigo, Live Binders, wiki, Delicious, Google tools, RSS, media tools, netvibes, iGoogle, and many more.

But when a technology focus subverts students’ conversation and development of critical thinking skills (and their ability to evaluate and analyze the information at hand), the mental processes that change knowledge from information to concept are not learned (Bomar, 2010). With the maturation of Web 2.0 tools the importance of nurturing information literacy skills and strategies has shifted to become a meta-literate approach to engagement with information.

This is exactly why teacher librarians are re-thinking what ‘collection’ of information means, thereby supporting personalized and collaborative information seeking and knowledge conversations. The new core information research tools available for students, teachers and school librarians adopting information literacy in a networked environment includes:

  • Microblogging tools for information sharing by teachers, students, classes and the school community in primary and secondary schools.e.g. Edmodo, yammer, Google+, or Twitter
  • Social Bookmarking and tagged collections e.g. Diigo, Delicious, PearlTrees, Flickr, Vodpod
  • Collaborative writing, editing, mindmapping and presentation tools e.g. Google docs, Exploratree, Voicethread, Mindmeister, Wikispaces
  • Research tools for online information management, writing and collaboration e.g. Zotero, Endnote, EasyBib, Bibme, Mendeley, Refworks,
  • Information capture in multiple platforms and on multiple devices .e.g. Evernote, Scrible
  • Library catalogues, databases, and open-access repositories – all used for information collection, RSS topic and journal alerts, and compatible with research organization tools
  • Aggregators, news readers, and start pages e.g. iGoogle, Netvibes, Symbaloo, Feedly
  • Online storage, file sharing and content management, across multiple platforms and computers e.g. Dropbox, Box.net, Skydrive

These tools have allowed us to re-frame information collection as highly flexible and collaborative information and knowledge conversations, while also facilitating information organization.

Technology and online integration can facilitate critical thinking and knowledgeable actions, rather than merely permitting the access and transformation of information as part of the information literacy skills set. The point is to engage our students in multiple conversations and research pathways that reflect the changing nature of scholarship in multimodal environments. As Lankes (2011) explains, at last we have a departure from information, access and artifacts as the focus.

In the lens of conversation, artifacts and digital access are only useful in that they are used to build knowledge through active learning.

Content exploration and learning demands a mix-and-match approach:

  • Search strategies
  • Evaluation strategies
  • Critical thinking & problem solving
  • Networked conversation & collaboration
  • Cloud computing environments
  • Ethical use and production of information
  • Information curation of personal and distributed knowledge.

Be sure you are understand online learning environments and the extra-ordinary potential of the social-media mind. Be sure you are involved with and present new ways and new information strategies to your teachers when  working within the curriculum and the full knowledge dimension of learning. Be sure you bring with you a full understanding of information literacy and information fluency as the underpinning of all that you do.

Bomar, S. (2010). A School-Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources.Knowledge Quest, 38(3), 72-75.
Lankes, D.R. (2011). The Atlas of New Librarianship. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Image cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photoshared by mikefisher821