27 Jan 2015

Finding Furlong: insights into the library of a nineteenth century theologian

Guest post by Mick O’Dwyer, Special Collections and Archives, Maynooth University

The Russell Library at Maynooth University is home to many unique treasures. In amongst cuneiform tablets from the Babylonian period, incunabula from 1470 onwards, and medieval manuscripts, resides a lesser known collection of significant importance – the Furlong Collection. Comprised of the personal library of the former Bishop of Ferns, Thomas Furlong (1802-75), this collection is a unique treasure of the Russell Library.

Handwritten catalogue of the Library of the House of Missions Enniscorthy -  Picture courtesy of Mick O Dwyer
Thomas Furlong was born in 1802 in Moyglass, Co Wexford. The son of large land-owning parents, he spent five years in the seminary in Wexford before arriving in Maynooth in 1819. Ordained as a Priest in 1826, Bishop Furlong served in Maynooth for over 30 years, taking up posts as Dean, Professor of Humanity, Rhetoric, and Theology.  He was ordained Bishop of Ferns in 1857.
An improvement in the college grant in 1845 resulted in better pay for Maynooth staff and PhD students. Thomas Furlong was one of the many who used these extra funds to create substantial personal libraries. His collection was so comprehensive that he reported to the 1853 Maynooth Commission that “having endeavoured to provide myself with nearly all the works which I require in my department, I rarely visit the Library with the view of consulting writers on divinity” (as cited in Neligan, 1995, p.14).
Bishop Furlong was an astute and discerning collector. His library contains approximately 1,349 antiquarian books, with items ranging in date from the 16th to the 19th century. It is a rich representation of Christian doctrinal and theological literature, containing works of ecclesiastical history, scripture, theology, philosophy, ethics and liturgy.
The collection includes many continental imprints and nearly 100 Irish imprints. Several of the books are first editions of sixteenth and seventeenth century works. The earliest item in the collection is dated 1540 (Concordantiae maiores sacrae Bibliae: summis uigilijs iam denuo ultra omnes editiones castigatae). Many items have ornate bindings and most feature the bookplate of the “House of Missions Enniscorthy”.

Manuscript fragment in printed book from the Furlong collection -  Picture courtesy of Mick O Dwyer
The Furlong collection is of particular significance to one user group of the Russell Library – visitors from St John of God Healthcare, Australia.  Bishop Furlong founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St John of God in 1871. As Ireland was still ravaged by the after-effects of an Gorta Mór, he established a base for the Sisters to minister to the poverty stricken people of Wexford. In 1895 eight Sisters immigrated to Australia at the request of Bishop Matthew Gibney of Perth, and used their skills to help the destitute residents of Western Australia. They opened hospitals in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, and have been active there ever since. Every year a delegate from St John of God Healthcare make a pilgrimage to Ireland and visit the Russell Library to see the Furlong Collection.

Visitors from St John of God Health Care, Australia at the Russell Library -  Picture courtesy of Mick O Dwyer
Following the closure of the House of Missions in Enniscorthy in 1993, the collection was relocated to the Russell Library.
The Furlong collection provides a unique window into the contents of a personal library of an Irish nineteenth-century theologian. It is held at the Russell Library, Maynooth University and can be viewed during normal opening hours (Mon, Weds & Thurs from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm).
With thanks to Barbara McCormack, Special Collections & Archives, Maynooth University for her assistance with this article.

Neligan, A. (Ed). (1995)The library: looking back, 1995-1800. In A. Neligan(Ed).  Maynooth library treasures: from the collections of Saint Patrick’s College (p.14) Dublin. Royal Irish Academy

18 Jan 2015

The Impact of Print Media and Wikipedia on Citation Rates of Academic Articles

Guest post by Daniel Price. Daniel lives in Israel, has an MA in Library and Information Science from Bar Ilan University, and works as a librarian at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

There is a clear desirability to publish a paper that has a strong scholarly impact, both for personal satisfaction knowing that one’s research has been viewed and built upon, and for professional reasons, since the number of citations a paper can correlate to promotion and tenure - the ubiquitous “publish or perish” (Miller, Taylor and Bedeian, 2011), which has now become an international phenomena (De Meis, Leopoldo, et al, 2003; De Rond and Miller, 2005; Min, Abdullah and Mohamed, 2013; Osuna, Cruz-Castro and Sanz-Menéndez, 2010; Qiu, 2010; Rotich and Muskali, 2013), increased salary and external funding (Browman and Stergiou, 2008; Diamond, 1986; Gomez-Mejia and Balkin, 1992; Monastersky, 2005; Schoonbaert and Roelants, 1996) and even the chance of winning professional prizes such as a Nobel Prize (Pendlebury, 2013).

Understandably then many studies have been carried out to discover the characteristics of highly cited papers (Aksnes, 2003) and the factors that influence citation counts. It is widely accepted that it is not just the quality of the science that affect the citation rate, but bibliometric parameters of papers such as its length (Abt, 1998; Ball, 2008; Falagas et. al. 2013; Hamrick, Fricker and Brown, 2010), number of references (Corbyn, 2010; Kostoff, 2007; Vieira and Gomes, 2010; Webster et. al., 2009), number of authors (Aksnes, 2003; Borsuk et. al., 2009; Gazni and Didegah, 2011; Wuchty et al., 2007), length of titles (Habibzadeh and Yadollahie, 2010; Jacques and Sebire, 2010), colons in titles (Jamali and Nikzad, 2011; van Wesel, Wyatt & ten Haa, 2014; Rostami, Mohammadpoorasl, and Hajizadeh, 2014).

A variety of external considerations is also known to influence the citation rate of academic papers. Intuitively a paper that has been publicised in the popular print media will be cited more as its publicity makes researchers more aware of it; however it can be argued that quality newspapers only cite valuable articles that would garner a significant number of citations in any case. That the first assumption was true was proven thirteen years ago in 1991 by comparing how many more citations articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine received if they were quoted in the New York Times during a 12 week period in 1978 when copies of the paper were printed but not distributed due to a strike compared to the following year of 1979. The results showed that articles covered by the Times received 72.8% more citations during the first year after their publication but only those discussed when the paper was actually distributed. Articles covered by the Times during the strike period received no more citations that articles not referenced by the Times, thus proving that exposure in the Times is a cause of citation (“the publicity hypothesis”) and not a forecast of future trends (the “earmark hypothesis”) (Phillips, 1991).

Phillips’ findings articles that covered in the New York Times receive more citations was confirmed in another study conducted 11 years later which also found however that exposure in less “elite” daily newspapers (but not in evening broadcasts of mainstream USA television networks) during a twelve month period from mid-1997 to mid-1998 also correlated with higher citation rates of a wider range of scientific papers, thus showing that scientific communication is not just carried out through elite channels. Importantly though, the author notes that his study does not prove the “publicity hypothesis” as the articles that were publicised could have been more intrinsically important and were only cited for this reason, although it does cast doubt on the “earmark hypothesis” since many articles that were not mentioned were cited (Kiernan, 2003).

In the present day much scholarly communication takes place on Web 2.0 tools and in the emerging field of “altmetrics” (Konkiel, 2013; Priem, 2014; Thelwall, 2013), studies focus on parametrics including whether it has been cited and discussed on academic blogs (Shema, Bar-Ilan and Thelwall 2014), tweeted (Eysenbach, 2011), and uploaded to a social media platform such as Mendley (Li and Thelwall, 2012).

Research has also investigated whether articles cited on the decidedly non-elitist Wikipedia. A study conducted in the beginning of 2010 found that 0.54% of approximately nineteen million Wikipedia pages cited a PubMed journal article, which corresponds to about 0.08% of all Pubmed articles. The researchers showed that journal articles that were cited in Wikipedia were cited more and had higher F1000 scores than a random subset of non-cited articles, a phenomenon they explained according to their hypothesised that Wikipedia users would only cite important articles that present novel and ground-breaking research (Evans and Krauthammer, 2011).

A larger study carried out two and half years later came to the same conclusion that academic papers in the field of computer science which are cited on Wikipedia would be more likely to be cited because the Wikipedia entries are written by talented authors who are careful to cite reputable authors and trending research topics (Shuai, Jiang, Liu and Bollen, 2013).

These conclusions support the “earmark hypothesis” that Phillips rejected and Kiernan doubted. Wikipedians are credited with identifying high impact journal articles soon after they are published and recommending them to other users.

In order to preserve a careful dialectic of both sides of the publicity/earmark hypotheses though, the possibility should be entertained that the large number of Wikipedia users may include researchers who, flooded with an information overload of thousands of articles, are motivated to read and quote certain articles because they saw them quoted on Wikipedia. Future research could investigate the information behavior of a large number of researchers, specifically their use of Wikipedia.

Abt, H. A. (1998). Why some papers have long citation lifetimes. Nature, 395, 756-757.

Aksnes, D. W. (2003). Characteristics of highly cited papers. Research Evaluation, 12(3), 159-170.

Ale Ebrahim, N., Salehi, H., Embi, M. A., Habibi Tanha, F., Gholizadeh, H., Seyed Mohammad, M., & Ordi, A. (2013). Effective strategies for increasing citation frequency. International Education Studies, 6(11), 93-99.

Ball, P. (2008). A longer paper gathers more citations. Nature, 455(7211), 274-275.

Borsuk, R. M., Budden, A. E., Leimu, R., Aarssen, L. W., & Lortie, C. J. (2009). The influence of author gender, national language and number of authors on citation rate in ecology. Open Ecology Journal, 2, 25-28.

Browman, H. I., & Stergiou, K. I. (2008). Factors and indices are one thing, deciding who is scholarly, why they are scholarly, and the relative value of their scholarship is something else entirely. Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, 8(1), 1-3.

Corbyn, Z. (2010). An easy way to boost a paper's citations. Nature. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/news.2010.406

Evans, P., & Krauthammer, M. (2011). Exploring the use of social media to measure journal article impact. In AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings (Vol. 2011, p. 374). American Medical Informatics Association.‏

Eysenbach, G. (2011). Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(4).

Falagas, M. E., Zarkali, A., Karageorgopoulos, D. E., Bardakas, V., & Mavros, M. N. (2013). The impact of article length on the number of future citations: a bibliometric analysis of general medicine journals. PloS one, 8(2), e49476.

Gazni, A., & Didegah, F. (2011). Investigating different types of research collaboration and citation impact: a case study of Harvard University’s publications. Scientometrics, 87(2), 251-265.

Gomez-Mejia, L. R., & Balkin, D. B. (1992). Determinants of faculty pay: an agency theory perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 35(5), 921-955.

Habibzadeh, F., & Yadollahie, M. (2010). Are shorter article titles more attractive for citations? Crosssectional study of 22 scientific journals. Croatian medical journal, 51(2), 165-170.

Hamrick, T. A., Fricker, R. D., & Brown, G. G. (2010). Assessing what distinguishes highly cited from less-cited papers published in interfaces. Interfaces, 40(6), 454-464.

Jacques, T. S., & Sebire, N. J. (2010). The impact of article titles on citation hits: an analysis of general and specialist medical journals. JRSM short reports, 1(1).

Jamali, H. R., & Nikzad, M. (2011). Article title type and its relation with the number of downloads and citations. Scientometrics, 88(2), 653-661.
Kiernan, V. (2003). Diffusion of news about research. Science Communication,25(1), 3-13.

Konkiel, S. (2013). Altmetrics: A 21st‐century solution to determining research quality. Online Searcher, 37(4), 10‐15.

Kostoff, R. N. (2007). The difference between highly and poorly cited medical articles in the journal Lancet. Scientometrics, 72(3), 513-520.

Li, X., & Thelwall, M. (2012). F1000, Mendeley and traditional bibliometric indicators. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators (Vol. 2, pp. 451-551).

Monastersky, R. (2005). The number that’s devouring science. The chronicle of higher education, 52(8), A12.

Osuna, C., Cruz-Castro, L., & Sanz-Menéndez, L. (2011). Overturning some assumptions about the effects of evaluation systems on publication performance. Scientometrics, 86(3), 575-592.
Phillips, D. P., Kanter, E. J., Bednarczyk, B., & Tastad, P. L. (1991). Importance of the lay press in the transmission of medical knowledge to the scientific community. The New England Journal of Medicine, 325(16), 1180-1183.

Price, D. (2014). A bibliographic study of articles published in twelve humanities journals. Available at https://www.academia.edu/7820799/A_Bibliographic_Study_of_Articles_Published_in_Twelve_Humanities_Journals

Priem, J. (2014). Altmetrics. In B. Cronin and C. R. Sugimoto (Eds.) Beyond bibliometrics: harnessing multidimensional indicators of scholarly impact (pp. 263-287).

Rostami, F., Mohammadpoorasl, A., & Hajizadeh, M. (2014). The effect of characteristics of title on citation rates of articles. Scientometrics, 98(3), 2007-2010.

Schloegl, C., & Gorraiz, J. (2011). Global usage versus global citation metrics: the case of pharmacology journals. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(1), 161-170.
Schoonbaert, D., & Roelants, G. (1996). Citation analysis for measuring the value of scientific publications: quality assessment tool or comedy of errors? Tropical Medicine & International Health, 1(6), 739-752.

Shema, H., Bar‐Ilan, J., & Thelwall, M. (2014). Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations? Research blogs as a potential source for alternative metrics. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology.

Shuai, X., Jiang, Z., Liu, X., & Bollen, J. (2013). A comparative study of academic and Wikipedia ranking. In Proceedings of the 13th ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital libraries (pp. 25-28).

Thelwall, M., Haustein, S., Larivière, V., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Do Altmetrics Work? Twitter and Ten Other Social Web Services. PloS one, 8(5), e64841.

van Wesel, M., Wyatt, S., & ten Haaf, J. (2014). What a difference a colon makes: how superficial factors influence subsequent citation. Scientometrics,98(3), 1601-1615.
Vieira, E.S., & Gomes, J.A.N.F. (2010). Citation to scientific articles: Its distribution and dependence on the article features. Journal of Informetrics, 4 (1), 1-13.

Webster, G. D., Jonason, P. K., & Schember, T. O. (2009). Hot topics and popular papers in evolutionary psychology: analyses of title words and citation counts in evolution and human behavior, 1979–2008. Evolutionary Psychology, 7(3), 348-362.

Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316(5827), 1036-1039.

8 Jan 2015

Zine Librarianship and the infinite madness

Picture courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

Guest Post by Mick O’Dwyer who supports his zine habit by moonlighting as an Assistant Librarian in Maynooth University.

With zines, appearances are often deceiving. If you take one thing away from reading this blog post, remember that!

I am a zine librarian and librarian zinester. You are probably thinking something like, “What’s a zine”, or “aren’t they from the ‘80’s”? I will do my best to allay your fears.

Picture Courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

Zines (as in magaZINE), are independent self-published, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) magazines, created out of a desire for self-expression rather than profit, and distributed in small runs.  They’re highly personal, can be on any subject imaginable, and are made with an eclectic variety of materials, such as twine, string and glitter. Zines are awake and immediate in a manner that is unlike any other medium. To me, they are powerful tools used to represent the underrepresented in society. They offer a platform to people on the fringes, whose voices are ignored or misrepresented in mainstream publications and traditional libraries.

However, zines have often proved problematic for librarians and have been disregarded in many libraries for a number of reasons; they contain minimal metadata, have erratic publishing schedules, are ephemeral in nature and often proudly flaunt copyright. As they are free from editorial restraint, zines can contain content that is unique, creative and thought-provoking, whilst also being objectionable, agenda-driven or poorly structured.

Picture Courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

Despite making a zine when I was in school, and spending countless hours reading zines and free-sheets in record stores, it was only when I was doing my MLIS in 2012/2013 that I actively got involved in the Irish ‘zine scene’.  For my Capstone project, myself and six other librarians decided to do something a bit different and revitalise the only dedicated zine archive in Ireland - The Forgotten Zine Archive.  We thought it would be interesting to study them as they have been habitually over-looked from an information management stand-point. We also thought it would be great to examine them in a non-traditional library setting. Independent zine archives often have close associations with anti-establishment countercultures that some establishment libraries feel the need to distance themselves from. Our archive is run out of Seomra Spraoi; an anti-capitalist, autonomous social centre, frequented by anarchists, socialists and a range of different groups.

Picture Courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

Established in 2004 by Irish zinester (zine maker) Ciáran Walsh, the Forgotten Zine Archive’s main role has been as a curated memory institution, where Irish and international zines are collected, preserved and made available to the public. Its contents now stand at around 2000 items, ranging in date from 1978 until now, and covering topics on a diverse range of subjects; from riot grrrl to Bray Wanderers FC, from anarcho-punk to cryptozoology. Tom Maher and I now co-curate the archive on a voluntary basis.

Picture Courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

Like zines themselves, zine librarianship is a niche market. Demand is low and you constantly seem to be fighting for legitimacy; from your friends, from other librarians, and even, on occasion from yourself.  But every moment of self-doubt, every hour spent cataloguing in a cold archive on a Saturday afternoon, or Tuesday evening fund-raising meeting is more than worth it. It has been fulfilling, rewarding, and ultimately where I found my voice as a librarian.

Zines and zine librarianship or both inherently DIY. You have opportunities to be creative in ways you may never be offered in traditional libraries. We created our own taxonomy of subject headings, specific to our archive as we felt other subject heading taxonomies were surprisingly limited in capturing the content of our collection. We consulted members of the zine community to do this, engaging with diverse groups of people who often operate outside traditional library user groups.

Picture Courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

In August 2014 we helped organise the Dublin Zine Fair with a group of local Dublin artists, and ran an exhibition on the contents of the archive in the Centre for Creative Practices. Both events really highlighted the benefits of seeking alternatives to the current ‘corporate vending to library’ paradigm, showcasing an array of talented local artists.

Picture Courtesy of Mick O Dwyer

Radical, independent archives such as the Forgotten Zine Archive are important.  It’s important that libraries play a role in supporting and promoting local independent publishing. It’s also important that librarians encourage people to write and make and use their imaginations. By making and distributing zines, the zine community is creating its own historical records. It is shining a light on undocumented aspects of society that might otherwise go unnoticed or be forgotten. Zine archives preserve the parts of history that do not make it into books or blogs. They provide links to disenfranchised communities and offer them a platform so their collective voice is given extra weight.

That is vital.

Mick O’Dwyer and Tom Maher will be presenting a parallel session on zine librarianship at the 2015 Academic and Special Libraries Conference, February 26th and 27th. The presentation is entitled “A community involvement and collaborative case study: the Forgotten Zine Archive”.

6 Jan 2015

Ancient artefacts at Maynooth University

Guest post by Barbara McCormack, Special Collections, Maynooth University Library and Klaus Wagensonner, CDLI, University of Oxford.

The Russell Library, Maynooth University, recently exhibited some of the oldest material from the collections of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth – a series of four thousand year old Babylonian clay tablets and stamp seals from ancient Mesopotamia. The collection of sixty-five cuneiform tablets in the Sumerian language and a pre-writing stamp seal were amassed by an Irish army chaplain during the First World War. The material dates from c. 3,500-1,900 BC and includes both cuneiform tablets and cones bearing royal inscriptions from the early Babylonian period, as well as administrative and economic accounts from the Ur III period (c. 2100-2000 BC).

Image provided by Barbara McCormack
 Perhaps the highlight of the collection is a gable-shaped stone seal from the pre-writing period, possibly originating from Anatolia (modern day Turkey) or Northern Syria, which depicts three antelopes and was presumably used as a security seal for trading goods. Other tablets and cones depict an inscription relating to Sîn-kāšid, a king of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk nearly 4,000 years ago during the early Babylonian period. This ruler built the temple of Eanna (literally, the ‘House of Heaven’) and commissioned tablets and cones bearing inscriptions relating to this deed. The inscription reads:

“Sîn-kāšid, mighty king, king of Uruk, king of Amnānum, provider of the House of Heaven, his palace of kingship he built.”

The success of this propaganda campaign can be measured in the survival of many of these artefacts, which are scattered throughout the world in various museums and libraries. The Russell Library holds sixteen wonderfully preserved cones and tablets bearing this particular inscription.

Other texts in the collection offer a fascinating insight into everyday life in Babylonia during the late third millennium BC and relate to trade and agriculture. These texts bear witness to the rather complex administration of the Ur III state, which dealt, among other things, with the incoming and outgoing of goods and the assignment of workers to specific tasks.

Image provided by Barbara McCormack
This exciting collection has recently been digitised and is now freely available on the website of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Oxford, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.

The collection is on display at the Russell Library, Maynooth University until early February and can be viewed during normal opening hours (Mon, Weds & Thurs from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm).