Monday, February 23, 2015

A list of predatory journals academics should avoid

Academic librarian Jeffrey Beall curates a helpful list of questionable (predatory 'standalone') journals. Academics should avoid publishing in these journals: LIST OF STANDALONE JOURNALS | Scholarly Open Access

The criteria for determining predatory journals are here.

Google tool for educators

Google offers some great free tools for educators: Google for Education: Google in your classroom

Google tools can be used to create and share documents, work on project, find and manage resources, etc.

Additionally, Google launched its 'Science Fair', in partnership with National Geographic, LEGO Education, Scientific American, and Virgin Galactic. They are asking students around the world one question: What will you try? Google science fair

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Preserving the world's seeds - The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Entrance to the Seed Vault

It sounds like an installation from an apocalyptic science fiction movie. In Spitsbergen (Norway) is an underground vault that stores samples of important plant seeds. The location was chosen because it lacked tectonic activity and had permafrost, which aids preservation. Its being 130 metres above sea level will keep the site dry even if the ice caps melt.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) officially opened on 26 February 2008. As of March 2013, the number of distinct samples has increased to 770,000 (out of approximately 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops which are thought to exist).

Svalbard Global Seed Vault - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Teachers' predictions of the Future of Education

Open Colleges asked six global education professionals to predict the future of education: Future of Education: What's Over the Horizon?

A visual history of Learning Technologies

Open Colleges Australia offer an visual overview of different learning technologies through the ages, from hieroglyphs and the abacus to digital technologies: The Evolution of Learning Technologies

Tools to visualize connections between academic publications

Academic researchers publish a lot of papers. One estimate puts the count at 1.8 million articles published each year, in about 28,000 journals (in 2012). The challenge is to make sense of all these publications.

With the raise of visualization tools, one would expect that there are some great tools out there that provide researchers with easy to use visualizations of how papers and authors are connected.

I distinguish between three different types of visualization tools: Impact factor, co-authors, and citations. Unfortunately, there currently seems to be no tool available that combines all three.

1. Tools to visualize the impact factor of a journal (impact factor diagrams)
Eigenfactor [free] offers dynamic graphs of the impact factor of journal by field. One can choose the field of interest, e.g. chemistry, education, or physics. The dynamic graph shows the journals with the highest impact factors on a timeline from 1997 to the present (slider below the graph). Eigenfactor is an academic research project co-founded by Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom and sponsored by the Bergstrom Lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington.
Eigenfactor 'motion graphs' show the impact factor of journals (on a timeline)
2. Tools to visualize the relations between co-authors (co-author mapping)
Do you want to see which researchers published together as co-authors? The 'Visual Explorer' of Microsoft Academic Search [free] focuses on the relations between people. After selecting a certain author, one can choose 'co-author path' in the left hand menu. The dynamically generated diagram show the co-authors of this researcher ('co-author graph'), how this researcher is connected to another researcher ('co-author path' - similar to the Six degrees of Kevin Bacon index), and who cited this researcher ('citation graph').
The 'Visual Explorer' by Microsoft Academic search shows relations between co-authors
3. Tools that visualize the citations between papers (citation mapping)
Do you want to know which papers cited a certain publication (forward mapping)? Do you want to see which papers were cited by a publication? Papercube [free] provides a visual navigation of academic citation networks. The data is a static snapshot of the CiteSeer digital library from 2004. The tools only serves to demonstrate the features but is unfortunately no longer updated.
Papercube shows academic citation networks (based on 2004 data)
Another tool to visualize citation networks is the Web of Science citation graph [paid through libraries]. This tool generates a dynamic graph of citations (forward and backwards). One can click on a specific publication to see details and to re-center the diagram.
Web of Science citation graph
Given the advances in data analytics, it is surprising and disappointing that there are no better designed tools for academics to explore and discover connections between publications.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Designing the future: The Venus Project

The Venus Project, initiated by designer Jacque Fresco, offers a technology-centric approach to designing the future of humanity. It is an example of Technological Utopianism.

The Venus Project captivates with futuristic looking architecture and technology but it is not without criticism: The Venus Project Debunked or this video:

The Venus/Zeitgeist Project goes beyond architecture and technology and envisions a world without government, private ownership, or money where everybody lives in futuristic houses and all the work is done by robots. It is interesting that the project wants to 'design' the future but without having anybody in charge.