Google Scholar search alerts

Searching today for articles about collaborative teaching philosophies (don’t ask)  – I saw this new little icon on the Google Scholar results – how long has this been here?

new search alert icon - Google Scholar result list

I clicked it, thinking it would give me the chance to email results to myself (which is something my students sometimes ask for, though not nearly as often as they ask why Google Scholar won’t format their citations for them).  But instead, it’s a chance to set up an alert for this search.

Google Scholar search alert, with articles only setI don’t actually know that I’ll use this because I don’t really want anything else coming to my email — an RSS feed would be nice.  But has this been around for months and I’ve just noticed it?  That could definitely be true – we’ll see how it works.

History and libraries, but not always history of libraries.

Nicholas and I presented this afternoon at Online NW.  Presentation materials are available here, on Nicholas’ blog.  Good times!

We used Prezi to create the presentation.  This is what it looked like, all together, when it was done.  I know that some people I know have found it difficult to get used to, but I kind of really liked it.  Plus, I’ve used it so far on three very different computers in three very different contexts and it’s worked smoothly every time.

Plus, no dongle drama.

public discourse writing class, revisited

I have a more substantive post brewing, but I am about to head out on a whirlwind (and probably ill-advised) trip back east to visit friends, and I don’t think it will get done tonight.

I wanted to mention a couple of things today, though, while they are still fresh in my mind.  I taught WR 222 again today, which is a composition class that focuses on non-scholarly public discourses.  When I do sessions for this class, I don’t have to talk about finding books, or scholarly articles so much as editorials, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, blogs, tweets, and the like.

The students come in very early in their process too; about half of each class is still in the “what should I write about” phase.  So I also focus on showing them places where they can browse lots of ideas, arguments, opinions and points of view.

This is the class I wrote about here, and here.

This year, I showed Newsmap again.  It was the first time I really looked at it since it upgraded, and it is improved.  Unlike last year, there is a search function now.  It’s still a slice of Google News, and the search bits have some glitches.  But for the students who don’t want to browse, and who still want the visual interface, it’s an improvement.  This tool was a big hit again, most of the students at least tried it, and some stayed in it the whole session.

I also showed some of the new additions to Google search- search options, unveiled this week at the Searchology conference.  I haven’t really figured out how to make the timeline thingy work interestingly.  And I haven’t browsed the options for narrowing down to recent information very much.

Mostly, I wanted to show the Wonder Wheel, which offers its own visual search interface  (h/t Caleb).  It’s pretty fun to browse up and down connected searches.  This one was popular as well, especially in the second class I taught today – in that group, I saw at least half of the group trying it out.

Usually, when students come in to the library and I’m teaching, they have topics and they’ve done some work.  I honestly don’t know how it would work to encourage open browsing in library databases – it might work out great, but still, I’m glad that when I have a reason to encourage it, it’s in this class where we can use these fun tools to do it.

making Google Scholar work harder

This was weird. I followed the link from Catherine’s excellent comment on my last post over to her excellent instruction-focused blog and while I was browsing the archives to check it out, I came across this post, which I knew that I was going to share.

It’s a nifty tip on how to force Google Scholar to add a “cited by [insert scholarly work of choice here]” to a regular keyword search.  Or put another way, it’s a way to search within a list of “cited by” results within Google Scholar.  For anyone at an institution that doesn’t subscribe to a lot of databases that support cited-reference searching the value is obvious, but I would suspect most of us have wanted to do just that from time to time, access to Web of Science or no.

Then today, less than fifteen minutes after I browsed that post I opened Google Reader to see that Fred Stutzman has posted today on his (yes, excellent) blog exactly the same solution to exactly the same problem.  His post lays it out in step-by-step format, if that’s what your brain likes.

That’s some crazy synchronicity.

health research using Google – maybe not what you think when you hear that

This is really interesting.  In a letter to Nature a few days ago, (paywall – natch) six researchers (one from the CDC, and five from Google, including one named “Brilliant” – awesome) reported on their work using five years of query data to track the presence of flu-like symptoms within the population —

By processing hundreds of billions of individual searches from 5 years of Google web search logs, our system generates more comprehensive models for use in influenza surveillance, with regional and state-level estimates of ILI activity in the United States. Widespread global usage of online search engines may eventually enable models to be developed in international settings.

Information seeking behavior within a population as a way to figure out what’s going on in the population – I don’t know why I enjoy that concept so much, but I do.

Here’s where I saw this story on the Mystery Rays from Outer Space blog (by a MSU virologist) – linked from the ResearchBlogging twitter feed.

Here’s more about the “Google Flu Trends” tool including more about how it works, and a place to download the raw data for yourself.

And here’s the graph from the letter that sure makes it look like this works –