## H-Index

As I mentioned last week, I decided that there wasn’t enough interesting about controlled vocabulary to fill up a whole month of posts so I’ve decided to switch topics for this week and next to journal metrics.  The first metric I’m using in some research I’m conducting with a professor, and it’s called the H-Index. H-Index was originally introduced by J.E. Hirsch as one way of measuring an author’s impact on his field.  The way it works is you order the author’s papers from the most to least cited paper along the x-axis.  Then you graph on the y-axis...

Now that you have decided how to organize your data, how do you present it?  Today’s information is based in part on A.V. Abela‘s popular Chart Chooser diagram which is also available in an interactive form.  Although the chart chooser was designed for presentations, it is handy for papers also.  My main point is you need to know what kind of argument you are presenting with your data.  My second point is that most people can interpret comparisons better than absolutes so you need a reference point for your data.  For example, is 80° a hot or cold day? ...

## Organizing Data in your Paper

Last time, I mentioned that if you have multiple experiments that you should decide on an order and then stick to that order.  So how do you decide on an order?  Let’s say this is your data You might decide to order it by shape (squiggles, ovals, diamonds) and then by number (one, two, three). Or maybe the other way around by number and then by shape.     Or maybe you decide to order it by color (red, green, purple) and then by shading (empty, solid, striped).  Or by shading then color. Or by shape and then shading...

## Writing and Fractals

Last time I mentioned that the four main parts of a scientific article are Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusions.  This is all fine and dandy when you’re writing a 12-20 page paper, but what if you’re writing something longer like a thesis? I like to think of writing longer papers in terms of fractals.  As you might know, fractals are self-similar which means that the look the same (or nearly the same) at every scale.  So if we take take a pattern like thisand then repeat the same pattern on every segment like this, we get this Now let’s...

## Scientific Papers and the Research Process

Since the last four posts were on databases, I thought I would spend the next four posts on scientific writing.  Today, I start with the basics:  the structure of a scientific paper. Scientific papers follow an idealized form of the scientific research process. Pick a topic and learn as much as can about what has been done. Figure out the next step that needs to be taken. Formulate a hypothesis (if A, then B) that addresses that next step. Design an experiment to test the hypothesis. Run the experiment. Collect data. Reduce data. Analyze data. Draw conclusions. Suggest future...

## Searching Databases and Driving Cars

With the plethora of databases comes a variety of different interfaces. Some databases might use be accessed using different interfaces. Some interfaces can access more than one database. Most people are creatures of habit:  they find a database they like (usually an important one in their field) and get used to it.  When they have to search another database (or if the database has been bought out by another company), they can often find the different interface confusing.  As a result they sometimes simply don’t conduct the search. I like to assure people that searching in an unfamiliar interface...

## Indexes vs. Electronic Journal Collections: Why aren’t any articles from this journal showing up?

On occasion, I get asked why no articles from certain journals show up when a patron does a search in one of the databases.  Usually the reason is because the patron is searching an electronic journal collection rather than an index. Indexes list articles from journals (and sometimes books and conferences) with their bibliographic information and add extras such as subject information and abstracts.  Usually the abstracts are those provided by the authors, but some indexes actually have professionals read every article and write a summary. When you run a keyword search in an index, you generally are searching...