Google Scholar Metrics

We have blogged in the past about metrics for measuring impact, such as the well known Journal Impact Factor, and more recently Altmetric, so I thought that I would bring your attention to Google’s lists of top publications. As part of the Google Scholar Metrics offerings they have rankings of the top 100 publications in several languages.

Google has added categories and subcategories for the English language rankings, so now you can look up the top publications in, for example, Geophysics in the Physics & Mathematics category, or Robotics in the Engineering & Computer Science Category.

The usual suspects are there in the list, like Science, Cell, Nature, Physical Review Letters, but you may find some interesting results. How amazing is it that arXiv (open access e-prints in physics, mathematics, computer science) is frequently listed by the separate subject areas?

Happy Monday!

Altmetric for Scopus


The next time that you find an article of interest in the Scopus database, click on the title and look for this Altmetric for Scopus box. The article will get a score, based on how much attention or buzz it is getting online. For example, this article was mentioned by 18 tweeters and was saved by seven individuals to their Mendeley references. You can read the tweets and see how many of them are coming from the general public, versus scientists, practitioners, or journalists and bloggers. The app will also tell you how the article ranks and if the Altmetric score is good compared to other articles that came out around the same time and from the same journal. Alternative metrics like these are great for going beyond the standard citation count, h-index, or journal impact factor, and can provide some realtime feedback.

The Montreal Planetarium

logo-pla_140_0The Montreal Planetarium, part of a larger consortium called Space for Life Montreal (Biodome, Insectarium, Botanical Gardens), is doing some great outreach on their website with simple and easy ways to get your astronomy fix. They have a feature called “Monthly Sky” – read it to discover what you can see in the sky this month. There’s also “Questions about astronomy” with some common FAQs. Don’t miss the section on “Astronomical events” with a list of major events in astronomy, past or future. And finally “Ephemerides” which has information on the phases of the moon, solstices or equinoxes. There’s also a seasonal bulletin called “The Pocket Planetarium”.

And if you want to get offline, maybe you’ll have visitors this summer to Montreal, and if that’s the case, Space for Life sounds like a great place to start the tour.

Image is a logo from the Space for Life website


There is no shortage of university rankings to be found on the Internet but I’d be hard pressed to find one as inclusive as the Webometrics Ranking, or as dedicated to self-improvement. The ranking, produced by Cybermetrics Lab (a research group of the Spanish National Research Council), covers more than 20 000 universities worldwide. They designed indicators of impact (links in to the university domain from third parties), presence (university pages found in Google), openness (files found in Google Scholar, including PDFs and other files from a university’s repository), and excellence (highly cited papers in scientific fields). It is quite an interesting methodology.

The raising of our roof

Look up to your right when you enter the Frank Dawson Adams Building from the campus side (or from the Roddick Gates side).  There’s a shiny new cupola that was placed on the roof of the Macdonald Stewart Library Building this week.  Read more about the raising of our roof, and see a brief video of the installation, in the McGill Reporter.

DOAJ – Directory of Open Access Journals

doajYou probably have heard of the open access movement or open access journals. Do you know of a source that exclusively lists open access scholarly journals? The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is such a list, where you could search for peer-reviewed journal articles and browse them by subject. For example, Geography has 123 journal titles right now. Since this source is freely available, it may become one of your essential sources for academic content once you graduate.

Dutch National Library makes progress with copyrighted material

Copyright has been an issue which sustains authors’ ability to produce, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, limits readers’ use to a certain extent. As guardians of copyrighted material, libraries make every effort to help maximize the use of its materials.

The Dutch National Library recently took this a step further by digitizing its copyrighted material and giving full access to the public. Instead of resolving the copyright issue with authors one by one, it took an “opt-out model” and asked copyright owners to contact the library if they didn’t agree to making their material available online.

Read more at Dutch National Library gives full access to in copyright material.

What is “peer review”?

peer_reviewWe write a lot on this blog about finding, reading, and evaluating research articles and this post is about understanding the meaning of “peer review” in the context of scholarly publishing.

When we teach students about research methods during orientation, in their classrooms, and during one-on-one consultations, we always introduce the concept of scholarly vs. popular literature. That is, the difference between articles written by and for other researchers, and articles written by journalists and other types of authors for the general public (magazine and newspaper articles for example).

Most scholarly articles have gone through a peer review process, where one or more experts have evaluated the study and given it a stamp of approval. It is now ready for publication and use by other researchers to build upon the ideas in the study. This is just meant as a very lean preamble to a more in-depth article about peer review on the website boing boing. This easy to understand article is part of Meet Science, a series intended to “provid[e] quick run-downs of oft-referenced concepts, controversies, and tools that aren’t always well-explained by the media.” The article is succinct and attempts to answer some pertinent questions about the peer review process. I hope you find it helpful.

Image from

Can serious research be funny?

While readimascotng the newspaper, I came across a reference to the Ig Noble Prizes, which celebrates research that makes people laugh and then think.  The organization, Improbable Research, also publishes a bi-monthly magazine called, Annals of Improbable Research.  Check it out to laugh and for thought-provoking studies.

Image of “The Stinker,” the official mascot of the Ig Noble Prizes, from