Tag Archives: conferences

Dataset published on access to conference proceedings – thank you!

Thanks to all who’ve helped —

(Andrea, apm, Catherine Fitchett, Sarah Gallagher, Alison Fields, KNB, Manja Pieters, Brendan Smith, Dave, Hadrian Taylor, Theresa Rielly, Jacinta Osman, Poppa-Bear, Richard White, Sierra de la Croix, Christina Pikas, Jo Simons, and Ruth Lewis, plus some anonymous benefactors)

— all the conferences I was investigating have been investigated. ūüôā¬† I’ve since checked everything for consistency and link rot, added in a set of references that I had to research myself as I couldn’t anonymise them sufficiently in the initial run; deduplicated a few more times – conference names vary ridiculously – and finally ended up with a total of 1849 conferences which I’ve now published at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3084727.v1

The immediately obvious stats from this dataset include:

Access to proceedings

  • 23.36% of conferences in the dataset had some form of free online proceedings – full-text papers, slides, or audiovisual recordings.
  • 21.85% had a non-free online proceedings
  • 30.72% had a physical proceedings available – printed book, CD/DVD, USB stick, etc, but not including generic references to proceedings having been given to delegates
  • 45.27% had no proceedings identifiable

(Percentages don’t add to 100% as some conferences had proceedings in multiple forms.)

Access to free online proceedings by year

This doesn’t seem to have varied much over the 6 years most of the conferences took place in:

2006: 39 / 173 = 22.54%
2007: 39 / 177 = 22.03%
2008: 62 / 258 = 24.03%
2009: 63 / 284 = 22.18%
2010: 105 / 428 = 24.53%
2011: 123 / 520 = 23.65%

Conferences attended by country

Conferences attended were in 75 different countries, including those with more than 20 conferences:

New Zealand: 429
USA: 297
Australia: 286
UK: 130
Canada: 67
China: 66
Germany: 44
France: 41
Italy: 35
Portugal: 31
Japan: 29
Spain: 28
Netherlands: 27
Singapore: 25

I won’t break down access to proceedings here, because this data is inherently skewed by the nature of the sample: conferences attended by New Zealand researchers. This means that small conferences in or near New Zealand are much more likely to be included than small conferences in other parts of the world. If a small conference is less resourced to put together and maintain a free online proceedings – or conversely a large society conference is prone to more traditional (non-free) publication options – this variation by conference size/type could easily outweigh any actual variation by country. So I need to do some thinking and discussing with people to see if there’s any actual meaning that can be pulled from the data as it stands. If you’ve got any thoughts on this I’d love to hear from you!

Further analysis now continues….

Progress report on how you’ve helped my research

At this point at least 20 people have helped me look for conference proceedings (some haven’t left a name so it’s somewhere between 20 and 42), which is awesome: thank you all so much! Last week saw us pass the halfway mark, an exciting moment. As of this morning, statistics are:

  • 1187 out of 1958 conferences investigated = 59% done
  • 312 have proceedings free online (26%)
  • of those without free proceedings, 292 have non-free proceedings online
  • of those without any online proceedings, 109 have physical proceedings (especially books or CDs)
  • 472 have no identifiable proceedings (40%)

I’ve got locations for all 1958, pending some checking. Remember this is out of conferences that New Zealand researchers presented at and nominated for their 2012 PBRF portfolio.

The top countries are:
New Zealand    492
Australia    315
USA    304
UK    133
Canada    69
(with China close behind at 68)

In New Zealand, top cities are predictably:
Auckland    154
Wellington    98
Christchurch    53
Dunedin    38
Hamilton    35

Along the way I’ve noticed some things that make the search harder:

  • sometimes authors, or the people verifying their sources, made mistakes in the citation
  • or sometimes people cited the proceedings instead of the conference itself – this isn’t a mistake in the context of the original data entry but makes reconciling the year and the city difficult.
  • or sometimes their citation was perfectly clear, but my attempt to extract the data into tidy columns introduced… misunderstandings (aka terrible, terrible mistakes).
  • or we’ve ended up searching for the same conference a whole pile of times because various people call it the Annual Conference of X, the Annual X Conference, the X Annual Conference, the International Conference of X, the Annual Meeting of X, etc etc.

On the other hand I’ve also noticed some things that make the search easier – either for me:

  • having done so many, I’m starting to recognise titles, so I can search the spreadsheet and often copy/paste a line
  • when all else fails I have access to the source data, so I can look up the title of the paper if I need to figure out whether I’m trying to find the 2008 or 2009 conference.

And things that could be generally helpful:

  • if a conference makes any mention of ACM, whether in the title or as a sponsor, then chances are the proceedings are listed in http://dl.acm.org/proceedings.cfm
  • if it mentions IEEE, try http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/browse/conferences/title/¬† If it’s there, then on the page for the appropriate year, scroll down and look on the right for the “Purchase print from partner” link – chances are you’ll get a page with an ISBN for the print option; plus confirming the location which is harder to find on IEEEXplore itself.
  • if it’s about computer science in any way, shape or form, then http://dblp.uni-trier.de/search/ can probably point you to the source(s). This is the best way to find anything published as a Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) because Springer’s site doesn’t search for conferences very well.
  • if you do a web search and see a search result for www.conferencealerts.com, this will confirm the year/title/location of a conference, and give you an event website (which may or may not still be around, but it’s a start). Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to search the site directly for past conferences.
  • a search result for WorldCat will usually confirm year/title/location and (if you scroll down past the holding libraries) often give you the ISBN for the print proceedings.

And two things that have delighted me:

  • Finding some online proceedings in the form of a page listing all the papers’ DOIs – which resolve to the papers on Dropbox.
  • Two of the conferences in the dataset have no identifiable city/country – because they were held entirely online.

I I am of course still eagerly soliciting help, if anyone has 10 minutes here or there over the next month (take a break from the silly season? ūüôā¬† Check out my original post for more, or jump straight to the spreadsheet.

Help me research conference proceedings and open access

I’ve been interested for a while in the amount of scientific/academic knowledge that gets lost to the world due to conference proceedings not being open access / disappearing off the face of the internet. My main question at the moment is, just how much is lost and how much is still available?

Unfortunately googling 1,955 conferences will rapidly give me RSI, so I’m hoping I can convince you to do a few for me – in the interests of science!

Background: I’ve written elsewhere about Open Access to conference literature (short version: conferences are where a huge amount of research gets its first public airing, yet conference papers are notoriously hard to track down after the fact) and Open Access and the PBRF (short version: if conference papers were all OA, PBRF verification/auditing would become a lot easier). Here I’m wanting to quantify the situation.

The data: The original dataset was sourced from TEC, from the list of conference-related NROs (nominated research outputs) from the 2012 PBRF round. There are obvious and non-obvious limitations but basically I feel this makes it a fairly good listing of conferences between 2006-2011 that New Zealand academics presented at and felt that presentation was worthy of being included among their best work for the period. The original dataset is confidential, but I’ve received permission to post a derived, anonymised dataset publically for collaborative purposes, and in due course publish it on figshare.

How you can help:
(Note: by contributing to the spreadsheet you’re agreeing to licence your contribution under a Creative Commons Zero licence, meaning anyone can later reuse it in any way with or without attribution. (Though I’ll be attributing it in the first instance – see below.))

  1. Go to the spreadsheet containing the list of conferences
  2. Pick a conference that doesn’t have any URLs/notes/name-to-credit
  3. SearchGoogle/DuckDuckGo/your search engine of choice for the conference name, year, and city to find a conference website. Assuming you find one:
  4. Correct any details that are wrong or missing: eg expand the acronym; add in missing locations; if the website says it’s the 23rd annual conference put “23” in the “No.” column, etc.
  5. Browse on the website for proceedings, list of papers, table of contents, etc. If you find:
    • a list of papers including links to the full text of each paper freely accessible, paste the URL in “Proceedings URL: free online”
    • a list of papers including links to the full text but requiring a login (including in a database or special journal issue), paste the URL in “Proceedings URL: non-free online”
    • information about offline proceedings eg a CD or book, paste the URL in “Proceedings URL/info re print/CD/etc”
    • none of the above, paste the URL of the conference website for that year in “Other URL: conference website”
  6. If you can’t find any conference website at all, write that in “Any notes” so others don’t try endlessly repeating the futile search!
  7. Sign with a “Name to credit” for your work. If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, put in n/a.
  8. If you like, return to step 2. ūüôā
  9. Share this link around!

What I’ll do with it:
First I’ll check it all! And obviously I’ll pull it back into my research and finish that up. I’ll also publish the final checked dataset on figshare under Creative Commons Zero licence so others can use it in their research. I’ll acknowledge everyone who helps and provides a name, in the creation of the dataset and in the paper I’m working on. And if someone wants to do a whole pile and/or be otherwise involved in the research then talk to me about coauthorship!

Why don’t I just use…

  • Mechanical Turk: I’m boycotting Amazon, for various reasons. Plus I consider a fair price for the work would be at least US$0.50 a conference (possibly double that) and as that’s a bit harder to afford I feel more ethical being upfront about asking folk to do it for free.
  • Library assistants: I am doing this a bit but there’s a limited period where they’re still working before summer hours and things have got quiet enough that they have time.
  • Something else: Ask me, I may want to!

Other questions
Please comment or email me.

LIANZA and open access

Moving to a new job has been keeping me happily preoccupied, but the email I received from LIANZA yesterday was just about calculated to spur me to break radio silence. To quote, interspersed with my commentary in [square brackets]:

From November 22, parts of the LIANZA website will be locked to members only. As the cost of developing and maintaining the website comes out of LIANZA membership fees, LIANZA Council decided to make certain pages exclusive to members. The Council worked with the Website Advisory Group to determine appropriate members-only content.

From November 22 you will need to login to the website to view these locked pages:

  • LIANZA Blog
    [Really? Does anyone really think I’ll log in to read a blog? I won’t even click a link to read a blog; I certainly don’t have time to log in to a website just to find out if there happens to be a post today. If the full post isn’t in my Google Reader, I don’t read it.]
  • Library Life newsletter features
    [I occasionally click a link from the email newsletter to read the full story. That’s about to become even more occasional.]
  • Latest issue of the New Zealand Library and Information Management Journal (NZLIMJ)
    [This implies that previous issues will remain accessible, which is something at least. But still a tremendous disappointment. I thought I’d been seeing a move towards opening NZLIMJ up, and had hoped to see it soon appear in the Directory of Open Access Journals. In the current climate, I think a library association should be promoting open access, not locking information down.]
  • Conference papers
    [!!!

    Just… What a tremendous disservice this does to the authors! Conference papers are hard enough to search as it is; locking these behind a login only guarantees that no LIANZA non-members (and not many LIANZA members) will ever read or cite these. Don’t we want rather to raise the profile of New Zealand LIS research?]
  • Copyright resources
    […Okay, if you really must have an easter egg for LIANZA members I guess this qualifies as reasonable.]
  • Member profiles
    [Okay, sure, whatever.]
  • Advocacy Portal (already restricted to members)
    [Because it’s… vitally important that only LIANZA members advocate for libraries…? To be honest I can see the argument for this as a valuable resource. I just think it’d be even more valuable if we all – members and non-members alike – cooperated on advocating for both our individual libraries and libraries as a class.]
  • Code of Practice
    [This comprises the “policy and procedures that are to be followed, day to day, in the running of the Association.” So mostly only of use to members; otoh it seems a bit odd to keep it secret.]

Does LIANZA actually have evidence that there are significant numbers of people choosing not to be members because the content’s there for free anyway? Enough people to be worth causing this hassle to existing members?

Because as a member, this does increase the hassle for me to access the content, and therefore reduces the amount of content I’ll be bothered to look up. When I was a member of the Website Advisory Group, a big concern was getting conversations going on the website; hiding those conversations away just seems likely to exacerbate that problem. This move also reduces the visibility of LIS scholarship published by LIANZA, so makes it less likely I’d consider submitting to NZLIMJ (however see footnote). And philosophically, I’m not overly happy about paying a subscription to a library association that is working against open access to information.

Lucky for LIANZA’s coffers, membership comes with other benefits that still make it worth the annual cheque. Because the moment its website content is locked behind a login screen, its value to me plummets.



Footnote for authors: If your conference paper is about to be locked behind the login screen but you actually would like other librarians nationally and internationally to have a chance at finding your research, you can deposit a copy at E-LIS – a subject repository for library and information science. (And/or in your institution’s repository if it has one.)

Likewise for NZLIMJ articles – the author guidelines state a 6 month embargo for publication elsewhere, but I emailed editor Brenda Chawner to clarify this, and she says she interprets it to apply to formal publications, not repositories, and it would be fine with her if authors put copies of their articles into an institutional or subject repository.

4 #blogjune

Four fantastic links I want everyone to read:

Proceedings of Codcon 2012
A virtual, hypothetical, parodic library conference held by the Library Society of the World on Twitter and Friendfeed on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.

No, we can’t do it all by Meredith Farkas
“So many of us struggle with determining priorities in teaching. Few of us have a workload that would allow us to do everything we would like to do. We hear stories about embedded librarian programs, librarians who were able to co-grade student papers with a disciplinary faculty member, libraries that have co-taught entire classes, etc. and we think: wow, I‚Äôd love to do that. But can we?”

A failure of imagination ‚Äď the problem with format neutrality
“I often hear librarians promoting their ‘modern librarian’ credentials by saying ‘it’s about the information, not the container’. By this they tend to mean that […] we should not be concerned about in which formats information is available, as long as it is available somehow. But what if it is about the container?” Read more to inspire your imagination.

Collective action for ebook collections
“I still agree with the notion that unless ebook publishing and distribution changes, libraries are still screwed. So let’s change things. Here are three things *you* can do.” Read more to improve ebook access.

2009 BookCrossing Convention

The BookCrossing Convention was held in Christchurch this year. I’ve been involved in BookCrossing for a few years, though only casually, so it was great to be invited to give a talk. I didn’t attend any of the release or social events but went along to the afternoon sessions today:

Patrick Evans talked about the research he’s done for a biography on Janet Frame, and about the different stories surrounding her life: the autobiography in her fiction and the fiction in her autobiography, the protectiveness of her friends and family for her privacy and the eagerness of strangers to recount legends about her. Janet Frame has been called “New Zealand’s greatest unread author” and I have to admit I haven’t read anything by her – I was surprised to hear she wrote some books that sound like science fiction, so I’ll have to keep an eye out.

We viewed an episode of The Lost Book (and were encouraged to follow the link to be involved in the fourth episode which will be set in Christchurch) and CPIT’s documentary on BookCrossing.

Bruce from BookCrossing Head Office skyped in (after a few technical difficulties) and showed us a preview of the Facebook application which will launch hopefully May/June. They’re also working on an iPhone application and snazzing up the main website to make it friendlier to newbies. Bruce solicited feedback on the user interface – some people talked about the mobile interface not being good, which is something important to BookCrossers. There was also discussion about the store. I was struck when Bruce said that the best selling items are those that make the activity of BookCrossing easier/more successful (eg stickers to make the books stand out, plastic bags to protect them from the weather, etc): it’s obvious in hindsight, but it seems a key thing to bear in mind for any institution trying to provide products or services to its customers.

The Netherlands contingent showed off photos of their country to encourage us to come to the 2010 convention there, and it was unanimously voted that the 2011 convention should be held in Washington DC.

My presentation on Books Unchained: A History covered the chaining of books, bookmobiles, e-texts, and the release of books through BookCrossing.

And of course I came away with several books including a couple of childhood memories, which I’ll have to (re)read and release in strategic locations!

Non-English blog roundup #7

Bambou (French) reports back from the 1st Congress of the International Francophone Association of Librarians and Documentalists held in Montreal in August. Part 1 covers the success of the conference (280 attendees) and part 2 is a review of the National Library and Archives of Quebec where the conference was held (62 opening hours a week; 2000 comfortable seats; film and music rooms, services for people with disabilities, distance services, federated genealogy search engine, collection for new arrivals, etc; but on the downside strict lending rules, busy webpage, austere catalogue.)

Marl√®ne Delhaye writes (French) “I love LISTA (Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts) (English), saying “I think it’s a shame that it’s not promoted more”.

√Ālvaro Cabezas writes (Spanish) about reference management software, “one of the star products in the academic community”. “The market offers various tools, both proprietary and open-source software, free or paying, desktop or […] online”. He links to a Wikipedia article comparing the various tools (English) – comparisons include operating system support, import/export formats, citation styles, database connectivity, and more.

Lionel Dujol writes Some noise in our libraries! (French) inspired by the start of Marc Maisonneuve’s book “Le catalogue de la biblioth√®que √† l‚Äôheure du web 2.0” (The library catalogue in the time of web 2.0). He (or Maisonneuve) riffs off the concept of librarians trying to keep libraries quiet and trying to keep search results free of ‘noise’: “A new-generation opac must be able to give our users results, no matter the request and no matter the noise. For a user can always adapt to noise, but not to silence, Maisonneuve emphasises.”

Linked from the same post is a document of requirements for the modern website of the modern library of our (modern) dreams (French) found on the French Bibliopedia. “The idea of this page is to gather everything that we expect today from a library on the web.” It includes sections covering:

  • general recommendations
  • the catalogue
  • the user account
  • social networking
  • editing / CMS abilities

and additional ideas for user service.

Non-English blog roundup #6 (from June!)

Giving up on an attempt to play catchup more thoroughly…

Biblog (Danish) reports that international conference “The Smart City And Its Libraries” is arranged by Copenhagen Libraries for Wednesday 8 Oct to Friday 10 Oct. Programme here (English).

Documentaci√≥n, biblioteconom√≠a e informaci√≥n writes about the battle of citation reports between Elsevier Scopus and ISI Thomson. √Ālvaro Cabezas, arguing from the point of view of transparency, that Scopus has been gaining ground over the last few months: “ISI is not transparent, and that which is not transparent is suspect.”