Chemical information instruction in the age of Google(TM)

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"Chemicalinformation instruction in the age of Google(TM"" is a bpaper presented on September 11, 2006 at the 232nd American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Francisco, CA. It discusses the challenges and opportunities for chemical information instruction to a generation of students who grew up with Google.

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Chemical information instruction in the age of Google(TM)

  1. 1. Chemical information instruction in the age of Charles F. Huber Davidson Library, University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010 Presented at the 232nd ACS National Meeting San Francisco, CA Monday, September 11, 2006
  2. 2. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep2 Chemical Information Instruction in the Age of Google™  The assumptions of the “Google Generation”.  Where they’re wrong and where they’re right  Teaching points from Google  What the future holds…
  3. 3. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep The assumptions of the “Google Generation”  The “Millennials” (born 1982-present) are the generation now passing through higher education.  Social scientists point to a variety of common characteristics of this generation, several of which link to the fact that “they have never known life without computers and the Internet.” (Ollinger, 2003)  Add to that: “or Google.”
  4. 4. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Assumptions about information searching in GenGoogle  Assumption 1: “Everything I need is on the Web, and available instantly.”  And corollaries:  “If I can’t find it with a Google search, it probably doesn’t exist.”  “All information is free on the Web.”  “If it does exist only in print, it’s not worth my time to find it.”
  5. 5. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep More assumptions…  Assumption 2: “All searches are ‘good enough’ searches”, i.e. Searches will always find far more hits that you can examine, and the first few (five, ten, twenty) will be good enough.”
  6. 6. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Still more assumptions  Assumption 3: “Anything you need can be found by keyword searching.”  The Ideal Interface Corollary:  “The ideal search interface looks like…
  7. 7. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Not this…
  8. 8. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Let alone this…
  9. 9. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep But rather this…
  10. 10. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Where they’re wrong…and where they’re right.  Assumption 1: Partially correct  There’s an awful lot available free on the net, and the amount is growing (digitization projects, institutional repositories, open access journals, etc.)  But there’s still a lot of material that hasn’t been digitized.  A lot of the material that is available in digital form is not free (e.g. most major chemical journals)  Even some that is free isn’t well “crawled” by Google and other search engines (e.g. national patent databases.)
  11. 11. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Assumptions: wrong and right  Assumption 2: Wrong  Though many searches work well in Google (e.g. for finding basic background information) for some, “good enough” isn’t good enough.  Scholarly review of the literature on a topic requires comprehensive searching to find all.  Patentablility searching requires comprehensive searching to eliminate all.
  12. 12. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Assumptions: wrong and right  Assumption 3: Critically flawed for chemical information.  Keyword searching can be greatly improved by intellectually-assigned subject headings.  Chemical substance searching by chemical name alone frequently fails.  Numerical range searching for data doesn’t work with Web search engines.
  13. 13. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Teaching opportunities with Google™  Google Advanced Search can be used to introduce:  Fielded searching  Boolean logic and proximity  Search limits
  14. 14. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Teaching opportunities with Google™  Google Scholar can be used to introduce:  Distinctions between scholarly and popular publications  Linking to articles  Does your institution have SFX linking to holdings? Has it been implemented for Google Scholar?  Cited reference linking
  15. 15. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Teaching opportunities with Google™  Google Book Search can be used to introduce:  Use of books in scientific research  Concepts of copyright and public domain
  16. 16. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Compare and contrast…  Google Book Search and your local online catalog. Google Book Search can find items, but do you have access to them? Why might you need different search strategies to find the same book in the two resources?  Google Book Search and scientific e-book resources (e.g. Knovel, CRCnetBases) Compare text searching with in-depth indexing (especially of numerical values.)
  17. 17. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Compare and contrast…  Google Scholar and classic literature indexes (e.g., CA, Web of Science, INSPEC, etc.)  Content – What types of literature do they index? What’s missing from each?  Subject indexing – How does specialized subject indexing enhance retrieval?  Linking features – Cited references, citing references, CrossRef, “related records” (Note that ISI and Google both use this phrase. But do they mean the same thing?)
  18. 18. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Compare and contrast…  Google searches on a chemical topic with intellectually selected collections of Web sites, such as:  ChemFinder (http://chemfinder.cambridgesoft.com/)  Chemdex (U. of Sheffield, http://www.chemdex.org/)  Links for Chemists (U. of Liverpool, http://www.liv.ac.uk/Chemistry/Links/links.html))
  19. 19. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Features Google lacks… so far  Detailed chemical searching  Molecular formula  Chemical synonyms  Structure searching (incl. Substructure and similarity searching)  Reaction searching  Analysis tools
  20. 20. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Turning “good enough” searching into comprehensive searching  For “Millennials”, “Learning more closely resembles Nintendo than logic” (Ollinger, 2003), that is, they tend to prefer trial-and-error to rigid rules.  But, with a little structure, “trial and error” turns into “pearl-growing”:  Define search needs  Determine starting points (keywords, authors, etc.)  Use easiest or most readily available search tools  Analyze results  Build on the “good” results found  “Lather, rinse, repeat” until needs met.
  21. 21. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep What the future holds  Will Google be replaced?  Maybe, but whatever replaces it will be at least as powerful, at least as easy to use… and designed for general searchers, not chemists.  Added sophistication for chemists will come from add-ons designed to work with the basic search engine.
  22. 22. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Future for chemical searching  More subscription-free literature  But how much, how soon?  More literature open to web search engine robots  Open data; specialized markup languages (e.g. ChemML) which will allow development of Web data search tools.  Substance identifiers which work with web search engines (IUPAC-NIST Chemical Identifier = INChI)
  23. 23. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep References  Kirkwood, Patricia, “Teaching chemical information: tips and techniques”, 19th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, West Lafayette, IN, July 30 – August 3, 2006 (Available at: http://acscinf.org/dbx/mtgs/BCCE/2006/index.asp)  Ollinger, Diana, “Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials: Understanding the New Students”, EDUCAUSE Review, 38(4) (Jul.-Aug. 2003) 37-47 (Available at: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0342.pdf)  Grabinski, C. Joanne, “Cohorts of the Future”, New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 77 (Spring 1998) 73-84
  24. 24. 232nd ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, Sep Acknowledgements  The UCSB Libraries, University of California – Santa Barbara  Chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering students of UCSB for the past nineteen years  Bartow Culp and the ACS Division of Chemical Education

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