Archive for the ‘journals’ Category

Journaling KO

I’ve been toying with WordStat™ software from Provalis Research again. It is very useful for the kind of qualitative analysis required in domain analysis. One valuable tool in the content analysis package is a KWIC index. Ancient students of KO will recognize that acronym for “Keyword-in-Context,” a kind of indexing once thought potentially fruitful. Here is an example including three “contexts” for the word “model” from ISKO 13’s proceedings.

A functional model of information retrieval systems
A reference ontology for biomedical informatics: the Foundational Model of Anatomy
Towards a Comprehensive Model of the Cognitive Process and the Mechanisms of Individual Sensemaking

As you see, it is very useful for comprehending the precise context of those big words that show up in the center of word clouds or the foreground of MDS plots.

However, the interesting thing I’ve just learned is that most of the presence of the term “information science” in our domain comes not from the keywords in research papers, but rather from the title of the third most cited journal in our domain JASIST (forgive me for not spelling out here, and using  that term again). Thus it is not that that term is a topic of critical interest, rather it is that as much as 20% of our research appears in a competing journal.

If our science is going to continue to thrive and grow, our authors need to stop sending their research to competing journals. Better a world in which our journal Knowledge Organization has to split into an A for ontology and a B for epistemology and a C for domain analysis, etc., than one in which the dispersion of our science hinders exploitative power and weakens the scientific structure of our domain.

Posted August 17, 2014 by lazykoblog in journals, KO

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A little mystery

Accuracy in all aspects of scholarship is critical. It seems increasingly to me, as a journal editor, that authors are taking less care with citations than ever before. It’s a bit like what we hear about pilots getting lax because they know their planes have autopilot—authors no longer make extensive files of source publications because they can view an abstract online with a couple of clicks and use one or another citation service to get automatic citations. One problem for another time is how this seems to lead to ritual citation. But more to the point of this post, it leads to errant citations, if the author is pasting from a citation service (or worse, from another paper whose author pasted it, etc., etc.) rather than keying a citation from a source document. Of course, the story I’m about to tell might just not have anything to do with any of this; I’ve no way of knowing how this happened.

When we prepare an issue of Knowledge Organization for publication we do several things that involve cross-checking for accuracy. One of them is verifying all of the citations in the text and the accompanying references in the reference list. Sometimes, despite having three different people working on this (as a cross-check, of course) something will slip through the cracks and we’ll find ourselves at the twelfth hour having to hold up production because a mystery develops. This one had to do with a citation. The issue was ready for press and we realized nobody had answered the question about what this abbreviated citation really was for:

Ranganathan, S. R. 1967. Areas for research in library and information science (development of library science. 6). Library science 4: 235-93.

Immediately one question was obvious, and that was why there was something like a series statement in the title portion of a journal article citation. I asked my colleagues to verify the citation and was told nothing like that could be found anywhere. We all tried looking it up in various ways. It seemed very curious that we could not find this citation online (but then again, 1967 was eons ago in digital journal time). It also was not possible to locate any journal with exactly the title Library Science from this period.

I decided to search the catalog of the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I used to work there years ago and I knew the collection was nearly exhaustive in information science. Also, UIUC is relatively nearby, so it would be possible to actually go there or send someone (or beg someone there) to look at the source if necessary. What I found in their online catalog was a journal called Library Science With a Slant to Documentation, published in India by SRELS (Sarada Ranganathan Endowment for Library Science) beginning in 1964 and ending in 1999, all of which seemed promising. However, I could not find a digitized copy of this journal anywhere by searching online. Volume 4 was dated 1967, but there was no explanation for the odd series statement, and there was no way to find a table of contents for the journal online. (I thought briefly of those halcyon days when long tables full of bound periodical indexes were at my fingertips, with citations stretching back more than a century; and the closed stacks of bound volumes were just through that little door over there ….)

I decided to turn to our ISKO colleagues by placing a notice on ISKO-L. Within a few hours I had several responses from around the world, acknowledging that we had found the correct title, and apparently the citation had employed a formerly standard title abbreviation. Paper copies of the journal were located. And even more oddly, European colleagues were able to find the digitized article online using Google. Now, why couldn’t we do that from the U.S.? I also heard from others in the U.S. who couldn’t find it online! How bizarre!

The next mystery arising concerned the phrase “library and information science,” because several people pointed out that Ranganathan would not have used that expression. Eventually a copy of the article was received from Kothi Raghavan; I’ll reproduce the first page here:


Sure enough, there is a series statement in parentheses within the title, and the title does not say “and information science” and the journal title is Library Science With a Slant to Documentation.

The upshot is there were at least three inaccuracies in the original citation, so it was good thing we chased it down rather than creating a bibliographic ghost by publishing it in erroneous form. But it also was a lesson in the pitfalls of relying too heavily only on our digitized sources. As I tell my doctoral students, who inevitably groan and refuse to believe me, a scholar has to look at the actual sources to verify their veracity.

The mystery was resolved and the correct citation appeared in Knowledge Organization. Thanks to Kathryn La Barre, Gerhard Riesthuis, Thomas Dousa, Vivien Petras, Joe Tennis, F.J. Devadason and Kothi Raghavan for helping resolve this little mystery.

And remember, apparently, caveat emptor applies to citations.

Posted July 13, 2014 by lazykoblog in journals


No, not the noun people misuse as a verb …. I’m talking about “impact factor.” Our journal Knowledge Organization has an impact factor of .55; the five-year impact factor is .61. This is pretty low for a scientific journal, which means there is a job to be done by the domain if we want our journal to be taken more seriously.

Impact factor measures (among other things) the degree to which the articles we publish have direct cited influence on future research; or, put another way, it measures citations in our journal to articles cited in earlier volumes in our journal.

If you are writing for any scientific journal it is important to situate your writing in the journal’s domain, and that means if you are writing for KO you ought to be citing KO and Advances in KO (ISKO Proceedings).

Just saying ….

Posted March 16, 2011 by lazykoblog in journals

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This is NOT reality TV

Refereeing is about community. We use peer-review as a gate-keeping device. But too often these days that seems to mean slamming the gate shut instead of standing at the gate with a welcome kit.

Too many referees for journal articles, conference papers, etc., are playing AMERICAN IDOL with the role. You know what, your job is not to refuse everything egotistically. Your job even is not to refuse things that you think are flawed.

Your job is to tell people who have legitimate contributions how to make them fit into the domain. Because ultimately our collective job is to secure and promote the domain. If you refuse every abstract or manuscript you see you will shut the door so firmly the domain will die.

So the next time you are tempted to say “NO NO NEVER” to a proposal, stop to think how you would feel if you were the author. What will you have learned from that response? Never to come back, likely.

Now, I have had recently an instance of reviewing the same text for a journal and a couple of conferences. That’s a no-no. Don’t submit the same thing in multiple venues. And if you can’t think of a second way of phrasing your point, it probably isn’t worth making it twice.

But aside from that, the rest of us need to get focused on how to build our domain. Saying “that is not KO” is not helpful. Saying “this is interesting but it needs to cite X and Y ” is helpful.


Posted March 15, 2011 by lazykoblog in journals

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Peer review (originally posted 3-14-2009)

I absolutely believe in the double-blind peer-review system for advancing scholarship. I have experienced the system from every which way possible, and I have absolute faith as a consumer of research (not a reader, but one who uses scholarship to advance my own scholarship) that peer review has led me to valid data. I am writing a paper now, for instance, in which I am relying on a paper by Maria Lopez-Huertas; I know I can count on the validity of her data to inform my own data analysis.

Still and all, the system has its quirks. I was astonished and dismayed to discover that JASIST was no longer using double-blind review. I discovered this, to my dismay, when I was sent a paper for review that turned out to be a paper by one of my own students that I had given a less than wonderful grade. Of course, I’d have recognized the paper anyway; but I was appalled to receive it unblinded, as it were, for review.

Most of the journals I read for maintain double-blind review and I appreciate it. Of course, there is often a moment when one thinks one knows who the author is, but the polite thing to do is put that thought out of your head and proceed as though you didn’t know (and who knows, you might not).

Reviewing in the knowledge organization domain also has its own domain-centric characteristics. For one thing, we are a small domain with a lot of ongoing work. Every year there are regional conferences and every other year there is an international conference, so there is an almost constant demand for 60 or so referees to be reading. I have two really terrific referees, both of whom return papers to me at once (usually overnight, but occasionally within a couple of hours). I figured out they both are simply reading them as they arrive in the email and therefore getting them out of the way. I have adopted that practice as well, and I’m much relieved not to have an inbox full of papers for review. I recommend this approach highly.

I’m always irritated when referees turn me down; I figure, we’re all in this thing together and we all have to play our parts, whether the dog is sick or not. But, it happens.

Papers for Knowledge Organization are sent to three referees. Most reply within a month, although in rare cases I have to chase after a reader. In some cases I never hear from the person. I enjoy getting diverse reports (a hates it, b loves it, and c thinks it needs work) because usually it gives me a fair amount of leeway for advising the authors. Sometimes referees get too wrapped up in grammar and punctuation. I figure that is the editor’s job–a referee should comment on the originality of the research, its appropriateness for KO, the rigor of the methodology and accuracy of the results, and applicability of the conclusions. Referees also ought to check the references, not necessarily for formatting, but for the presence or absence of material that ought to be cited. After all, this is how a domain acquires cohesion. This is the gatekeeping function that constantly checks the intension of the domain.

Posted November 17, 2010 by lazykoblog in journals

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