Searching for Science

Since a little while -say a year and a half or so- I teach at regular intervals a course on finding scholarly information with freely available resources on the Web. The course is titled “Searching for Science“. The course material is freely available in one of my Wikis’. The main reason for using a wiki for presenting a course like this, is that linking to examples on the Web works so much more smoothly than using a powerpoint¬† instead.

With regards to the course today, a small group attended. 4 researchers and 5 (mostly) international students. A nice mix. I really enjoyed it, and I think they did as well. Well at least they gave me a really positive evaluation.
During the course I spend about three quarters of the morning, say a littel over 2 hours, on general search tactics. Search engines and their commands, Web directories and the Deep Web.¬† During the evaluation I always get the feedback that just some plain Google commands and search tips receive the most Brownie points. What’s always interesting is an exercise where we compare the coverage of scholarly search engines plus Live Academic on retrieving a known article from an OA repository in the Netherlands. I always ask the students to do the search with the full title of an article and repeat the exercise with a sentence from the discussion part of the article. It is always interesting to see the outcome of this exercise. As usual Live Academic failed entirely. Google Scholar did reasonbaly well on both, but today Scirus and Scientific Commons only worked with the title words.¬† These outcomes can be different again tomorrow. It is always difficult to explain these outcomes.

Meanwhile I find some real gratification in the fact to point my students to some of the OA discussions as well, whilst covering collections of OA journals, Repositories or mentioning Open Course Ware sources.

On most occasions the participants are entirely new to some of de Science 2.0 developments. RSS? never heard off. So I introduce them to Bloglines, Netvibes and Google Reader. Show them something about scholarly blogs, social bookmarking for scientists or Digg.

We do actually have a course on Science 2.0 in the planning for somewhere in April. Needs still a lot of developing though. But it will be interesting.

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