London Experience, Day 11: Cambridge – “Old School” & International Scholarship
Cambridge is home to Cambridge University. A very old place where you cannot walk on the grass, people dress in caps and gowns for every day scholarly doings, and there is a big cathedral (King’s Chapel) that Frederick the III and Henry the VIII had a hand in constructing.
Obviously it’s amazing to be in a town with such a rich history – in New Mexico a couple of weeks earlier I’d visited a simple adobe church built by Spanish missionaries – the San Miguel Mission. It’d been built in 1630 and was the oldest church structure in the U.S. But this Cathedral – I think it was finished in the 1400s and had been under construction for several decades prior to completion. So it was unreal to be in such an old place. The concept of preservation goes very far back.
Cambridge is also home to ProQuest, an outfit familiar to many Library Students due to scholarships and free training and access. ProQuest must indeed love library students because they were again incredibly nice to us, from gathering coffee mugs for all 19 students, to giving us sparkling mineral water, juice, and some pastries that saved my blood sugar levels as I’d missed breakfast that morning.
We’d had a great ride on a train to Cambridge – again an unseasonably warm day. We passed over an idyllic English countryside, and once more I was surprised by the paucity of development – or rather the lack of “sprawl.” I had to set out on my own as I’d neglected to purchase a train ticket, but caught up with students catching photos as the “9 3/4 platform at King’s Cross station.” I enjoyed some conversation on the way over.
Back on the subject of proquest, they are using the “Alchemy API” that I need to check out – apparently it’s a natural language processor that can “Integrate advanced text mining and analytics functionality into your application, service, or data-processing pipeline.”
What was most interesting to me was that scholars are concerned about “late finds.” That’s because a late find can cost a scientist’s reputation, and it’s also an economic cost.
Finally, I asked about scholarship in emerging economies, like Brazil, India, Russia, and China. The reply was that most of the time, these scholars publish in English language journals. Perhaps harkening back to the 1600s when England was the publishing powerhouse. Although publishers now have locations throughout the world, English is the unofficial general language in India.
Interestingly, and more to the point of my question, there was an admission that “almost every publisher has a Chinese or Japanese interface ” and from my personal experience in a stats class, Chinese students would often switch to asking questions of each other in Chinese “because it is easier.” This could mean a lot for usability and user experience as “right to left” is the traditional way of reading in Western societies, but not for others. Cultural differences might be a barrier for e-publishers.
Scielo – Scientific Electronic Library Online – is a Brazilian scholarship site that I’d like to check out. “The Scientific Electronic Library Online – SciELO is an electronic library covering a selected collection of Brazilian scientific journals.” To wit, there is a Portuguese version to complement the top-level .br english language domain <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_home&lng=pt&nrm=iso>. Note the “&lng=pt” compared to “&lng=en.” According to the English language version of the site, “SciELO is an electronic library covering a selected collection of Brazilian scientific journals.”
Some interesting FAQs pertaining to inclusion are here: http://www.scielo.br/avaliacao/faq_avaliacao_en.htm
And even more interesting is the detailed list of criteria for journals to meet for inclusion in the index: http://www.scielo.br/avaliacao/criterio/scielo_brasil_en.htm
It goes back to the question of “who do you trust?” In fact, this list of criteria might help answer the question “why do you trust them?” At least from the citation indexer’s point of view.