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Archive for December, 2008

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata. In social bookmarking system users want to save links of web pages, they would like to remember and share privately or publicly. Most of the social bookmarks are stored publicly, however there are options to store and make them available only to certain people or groups or networks.  These are made available on social bookmarking site such as Delicious chronologically, by category or tags or via a search engine.

Until recently these were universal in nature and not specifically limited to particular subject field such as Delicious, Zigtag etc.  However, now there is a big revolution in social bookmarking targeting academia  encouraging academicians working in different fields to make use these tools. This is a certainly a leap forward for researchers to make use of Web 2.0 to undertake collaborations or network with the community working in their subject field of study.

I had a chance to come across some such tools in a Online Information 2008 conference and exhibition currently being held in London (2nd to 4th December, 2008). I think it is a herald of new services on the Internet to unleash the potential of researchers in a big way thus reducing the time taken for research. Some the interesting tools, I came across are biomedexperts.com for biomedical sciences, IET discover for engineers and scientists and knol for researchers in all fields. This is addition some already existing tools such as citeulike to share the articles bookmarking.

Biomedexperts uses Pubmed database to find out researchers output and their collaborations and also uses Mesh subject headings for tagging. It wonderfully sketches their collaborations in a map linking the main author with his/her collaborators. I very much impressed with this product on its use of controlled vocabulary. The IET discover allows researchers in science and engineering to collaborate with each other and also allows to set their own groups. Like Delicious it also allows users to add their own tags for the entries and also provides cloud of tags for easy navigation. Knol a product of Google tries to harness tacit knowledge of people working in different areas, who are interested in sharing it with others. It encourages collaboration between the author and others and allows the author to control the changes to his/her article. All these products are available for FREE to encourage researchers to make use of them.

I think there are lot more tools are expected to come on the web in the near future. For example Collexis the company behind biomedexperts is already in talks with other authoritative database holders to bring this service in other subject fields as well. Some of these tools in a way help information intermediaries like us to undertake studies to know the research output of a particular researcher/s.

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Joint Information Systems Committee [JISC] is one of the unique organizations in the world funded by the UK Higher Education and Further Education bodies to provide the leadership in the innovative use of Information and Communication Technology [ICT] to support education and research. JISC supports national services portfolio and a range of programmes, services, projects, themes and campaigns. The services and programmes of JISC include:

  • A network – JANET
  • Access to electronic resources
  • New environments for learning, teaching and research
  • Guidance on institutional change
  • Advisory and consultancy services
  • Regional support for Further Education colleges – Regional Support Centres

JISC undertakes varied number of activities through its programmes, projects and services embodied in different themes. It carries out most of its works in collaboration with various organizations in UK by providing funding. I would like to highlight here its activities related to information infrastructure, access management and libraries.  I had an opportunity to meet Ms Louisa Dale, Partnership Manager, JISC International to discuss on the above issues and its international initiatives.

The programmes of JISC, which are made up of projects aim at the use of ICT in learning, teaching and research to build knowledge, develop services, infrastructure or applications. Some of its programmes related to information management are digitisation, digital preservation and records management, enriching digital resources, repositories and preservation programme, resource discovery etc.  Its digitisation and preservation programme aims to preserve the digital content created and curated by national libraries, archives, government and publishers for the benefit of researchers and students. The best example of digital preservation project supported by JISC is LIFE. Some of the popular resource discovery tools supported by JISC include archives Hub, coopac, intute, IESR, Suncat etc. These tools can be accessed free by any one within or outside UK and remaining tools such as JISC collectionsJorum, Zetoc etc are available only to the UK institutions either through authentication or subscription. One of its projects on Google generation highlights on the information searching behaviour of researchers, aged people, students etc in the present Internet era.

JISC campaign on ‘Libraries of the future‘ is gaining momentum in the UK. It attempts to explore the issues around the enormous impact of ICT on the academic library and look forward to ensure that libraries-however they may continue to evolve at the heart of academic life.  The campaign is aimed to find out place for libraries in the Google centric information environment. It is organizing series of events on this issue at various higher education institutions in UK, published few publications and also maintains a blog.

JISC at present includes content from/for UK organizations and some European Union countries. However, in the future it may start including the international content for the benefit of UK researchers. It is acting as a saviour for libraries by providing access to e-journals, repositories, data libraries, resource discovery tools etc. These resources and tools are helping libraries in meeting varied information needs of their clientele.

I wish each country should have an institute like JISC to build information infrastructure, conduct programmes and create awareness on fiery topics. This will enable free access to information which eventually benefit researchers, students and public in general. It will also help in filling the digital divide. Libraries in the developing countries benefit to a greater extent from some of its programmes and projects such as intute, libraries of the future, coopac etc.

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