Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Anyone incipient librarians out there?

So, the top dog of our lab had a meeting with all of us under-rodents on Monday. One thing he wants done is a compilation of all the papers ever written with data that came out of our machine. When faced with tasks like this, I generally turn to my most trusted method of literature searching; I ask someone clueful. Unfortunately that option is not available right now.

In an ideal research community, this task would be simple. Journal publishers, eager to compete with each other to have the most user-friendly publications, would cross-reference and meta-label everything useful. In this publication paradise, one could search papers by author, or by sample locale, or by standards or constant values used.

In reality, such a system may well exist. But if it does, it is almost certainly owned by Elsevier, and they grant access only to those willing to donate their left testicle, with all subsidiary, genetic and IP rights that would ordinarily be attached (Could this explain the dearth of women in science?).

So if anyone can think of a less emasculating way to do this sort of literature search, my unborn children would appreciate it. In the mean time, I’ll try the personably technophobic method of asking everyone on the booking sheet (yes, we still schedule on paper) for reprints, and hope that the data pirates are not a statistically meaningful subset of the publication base.


yami mcmoots said...

Your employer hasn't cut off its institutional left testicle in your stead?

AFAIK Web of Science doesn't tag by sample or standard, but if you look at who's cited the papers you're sent, you can probably catch most of the data pirates.

C W Magee said...

I can't say whether they cut it off or not, but the powers that be certainly seem to have dispensed with BOTH, given their rather appauling lack of spine these days. Of course, this testicular-vertebral correlation is known primarily from the literature; I suspect it is unsupported by the fossil record.*

As for the papers, Dr. Top Dog walked into lab this morning with a 180 mm slab of ex-tree, which he called the "first half". I'll compare that with the known users once the second half gets logged, pulped, and printed, and we'll look for glaring absences and investigate accordingly.

* As far as I know, testicles are not well represented in the fossil record.