Building a Better Bibliography

My previous blog post was more than two months ago.  Since then I’ve nearly completed Part 6 in my 7-part overview of meta-analysis, about various types of problems that can arise.  It’s long-ish and covers several pertinent issues, such as aberrant cases (e.g., outliers), sources of bias (e.g., reporting biases, artifacts), threats to validity, and sensitivity analyses.  I’d like to post that before September.

Meanwhile, I invite you to test-drive the project that’s consumed much of my time during the past couple of months: building a CiteULike library on methodology for research synthesis (Meth4ReSyn).  I hope this library markedly improves access to the large, diverse, and rapidly growing literature on research-synthesis methodology, mainly by helping searchers more efficiently find more work that’s more relevant than they would via other search strategies (e.g., higher recall and precision [or sensitivity and specificity]).

As of 20 August 2012 this Meth4ReSyn library contains 602 items: a random 10% of the currently public version of my bibliography.  Below are ideas for investigating this library if you’re unsure how to start.  Any online visitor can use many of CiteULike’s features without registering, but (free) registration permits additional functionality.

  • You can access most features of the Meth4ReSyn library by hovering your cursor over “Meth4ReSyn’s CiteULike” (near the top of the page) and selecting an item from the drop-down menu (e.g., ‘Library’, ‘Profile’).
  • To search the Meth4ReSyn library, you can select ‘Search’ from the “Meth4ReSyn’s CiteULike” drop-down menu; for info about search syntax, click ‘Help’ near the search box.
  • For an overview of topics, see the Meth4ReSyn library’s tag cloud by selecting ‘Tags’ from the “Meth4ReSyn’s CiteULike” drop-down menu; about 90% of the items have tags, and improvements to the tagging system are planned.
  • More info about the Meth4ReSyn library is in my CiteULike profile, which you can access by selecting ‘Profile’ from the “Meth4ReSyn’s CiteULike” drop-down menu.
  • Check out the CiteULike wiki for more tips and detail on using the reference management service in general; you can access this by selecting ‘Help/FAQ’ from the “CiteULike” drop-down menu.

The Meth4ReSyn library will eventually be the best way to access my bibliography (described here), in part because it offers many more user-friendly features than the current public version of the bibliography—spreadsheets provided as supporting information with the ‘Article Alerts’ feature section in Research Synthesis Methods (RSM-AA).

My short-term goal is to transport all items from the RSM-AA print and archive components to this Meth4ReSyn library by summer 2013.  Many items in this library will include more metadata than their RMS-AA counterparts, such as abstracts, tags/keywords, and DOIs or other online identifiers, much of which is searchable using CiteULike’s search utilities.  This transportation process will require several hundred person-hours, mainly due to adding metadata, meeting CiteULike’s requirements for importing “trusted”/”authenticated” items, and amending or augmenting automatically imported bibliographic info.  I’ll probably request financial and other support for this work, so keep an eye out for opportunities to help.

My longer-term goals involve making the Meth4ReSyn library user-friendlier and more comprehensive and current, as well as promoting it widely to methodologists, applied researchers, instructors, students, and others who’d benefit from it.  That could easily be a full-time job, especially given the growth in relevant published and unpublished literature: Consider the time required to find and process more than 2,000 items/year!  I’d love to spend more time on this and build a team of collaborators; that’ll depend in part on the generosity of users and other interested parties when I request support.

Meanwhile, please explore the Meth4ReSyn library and share it with colleagues, collaborators, lab personnel, students, supervisees, advisees, or others who might find it useful.

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