Celebrating Excellence in Communication Award winners!

Please join me in congratulating the WCOM 206 Excellence in Communication Award winner for Winter/Summer 2022, Gabriel Lacroix, and Fall 2022, Sophie Allard. Their papers were chosen as the best among their peers across all sections of the Communication in Engineering course. Well done!

The full text of their papers have been added to the McGill Library repository, eScholarship.

Costs and Effectiveness of Roof Based Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategies

by Gabriel Lacroix

The temperature of cities during summer keeps increasing due to climate change and the urban heat island phenomenon. These temperatures lead to increased mortality rates, discomfort, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to deteriorating air quality. To alleviate the effects of this phenomenon, many effective mitigation strategies have been developed. In the highly urbanized areas where the urban heat island is the most problematic, roof area is abundant, making mitigation strategies like green roofs and cool roofs attractive. This paper compares the effectiveness of green and cool roofs at mitigating the urban heat island effect by evaluating the temperature reductions they provide, the lifecycle costs associated with them, and the added benefits from implementing them. This comparison found that green and cool roofs provide similar temperature reductions with cool roofs being more cost-effective and green roofs providing valuable added benefits.

Comparative Analysis of Carbon Capture Systems for Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants

by Sophie Allard

Power generation through the combustion of fossil fuels produces most of the world’s electricity; however, this results in considerable carbon dioxide emissions and harmful environmental effects. As global energy demands continue to rise, researchers have begun investigating strategies to mitigate emissions by fossil fuel-fired power plants and carbon capture and storage has emerged as a feasible and effective method of doing so. This paper provides a comparative analysis of three methods of carbon capture: post-combustion, pre-combustion and oxy-combustion capture. Post-combustion capture refers to the process of separating carbon dioxide from the flue gas produced by combustion through absorption in a solvent. Pre-combustion capture involves removing the CO2 from the fuel prior to combustion through a series of isolated reactions, leaving pure hydrogen to be burned for power generation. Oxy-combustion capture involves the combustion of fossil fuels in an environment of pure oxygen, such that the flue gas produced can easily be condensed to isolate the CO2. While these three systems are effective emission reduction strategies, pre-combustion capture is associated with the highest efficiency. However, given the high cost of implementing and running pre-combustion and oxy-combustion capture systems in coal or natural gas-fired power plants, post-combustion capture was determined to be the best solution, based on practicability, efficiency and economic feasibility. Through the employment of carbon capture, the emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants could be significantly reduced in order to mitigate the alarming effects of climate change.

Flick the switch. It’s time for Science Literacy Week @ McGill!

Science Literacy comes to McGill, September 18-22.

The Science Literacy Week theme this year is energy, and we have a high-powered lineup of events. It is our ninth year participating in this Canada-wide initiative, spreading our enthusiasm for science with tours, workshops, drop-ins, and talks.

Register for a workshop: You can crochet a mini sun keychain, learn the art of explaining science to non-specialists, explore LaTeX with Overleaf, take a beginner or intermediate Excel workshop, gain experience finding and understanding Canadian datasets, and follow an introduction to research data management. New this year is a workshop at the Geographic Information Centre on working with satellite and drone images at McGill, and Science for the People Canada is joining us for Science Literacy Week with a workshop on repair as culture.

Register for a tour: Do you know about the temperature sensors around McGill? Take a tour of climate sensors on campus and learn about Montreal’s urban heat island effect. You can also learn about medical simulations with a tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning, or explore our physics collections with a tour of the Rutherford Museum and McPherson Collection with curator, Professor J. Barrette.

Drop-in: Stop by and explore science history treasures in McGill’s Rare Books & Special Collections on the Thursday of Science Literacy Week, or take advantage of the daily drop-in times for the Osler Library of the History of Medicine (11am-1pm).

Take in an exhibit: There will be an exhibit, The Rise & Influence of Medicine in the Islamic World, comprising two complementary displays, one at the Islamic Studies Library and other at the Osler Library. The exhibition will be accessible during each respective library’s opening hours until December 22.

Dr Joe Schwarcz is also returning this year with a lecture on Sense, Nonsense, and Science, and Dr. Christie Rowe is going to tell us what every Montrealer should know about earthquakes.

Visit the Science Literacy Week Library guide to see our full calendar of events!

New look for CAS SciFinder-n

Screenshot of the new launch page.

There is a brand new look and feel to the main search page of the SciFinder-n database from CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society. The results pages from searches in CAS SciFinder-n have not been impacted by the change.

An interesting addition to the main page is easy access to the CAS Lexicon, where you can work on your strategy ahead of time by searching the indexing terms for concepts, chemical classes, and taxonomic vocabulary.

CAS Lexicon available from the launch page

If you have never registered to use CAS SciFinder-n, visit the Library’s CAS SciFinder Discovery Platform guide for details. You can also stay up-to-date on database changes by visiting the “What’s New?” section of their website.

The help pages for searching in CAS SciFinder-n have all been updated, but if you have any questions about the database please do not hesitate to ask (email April).

WCOM 206 Award Winners

Excellence in

Written Communication

The latest winners of the WCOM 206 Excellence in Written Communication Award have been announced. Please join me in congratulating Paolo Fiorilli, Theodore Glavas, and Timothy Adams!

These undergraduate engineering students have excelled among their peers. Their winning papers have been added to our digital repository, eScholarship@McGill, and made freely available to the world. Take a look at the abstracts below and follow the title links to read the full text.

Winter/Summer 2020

Paolo Fiorilli – Analysis of Alternative Insulating Gases to Replace SF6 in Electric Power Equipment

SF6 gas is an excellent electrical insulator that has been widely used in the power industry for decades, but its status as a powerful greenhouse gas has led to increasing pressure to find an alternative. The objective of this paper is to compare the properties of two novel replacement insulators, Novec 4710 and Novec 5110, and show that Novec 5110 is marginally superior in warm climates. The analysis will be performed using three criteria: electrical properties, assessed through dielectric strength and using boiling point to determine suitable operating temperatures, toxicity, evaluating mainly the median lethal dose and operational exposure limit, and environmental impact, established through the gas’ global warming potential. The analysis will show that for climates where the temperature does not fall below 0, Novec 5110 is the ideal choice because it results in a 99.996% reduction in warming potential and is the safest substance to handle. It is therefore recommended that Novec 5110 be adopted for insulating purposes in warm climates, while Novec 4710 is an excellent second choice with better insulating potential and a lower environmental impact relative to SF6 that is more suitable for colder regions.

Winter/Summer 2021

Theodore Glavas – Future Data Storage Mediums for High-Capacity Solutions

The amount of data produced by humanity each day is set on an exponential trend. As data production increases, the demand for data storage also grows. Current storage technologies cannot keep up with the extreme rate of growth, so new approaches to data storage must be considered. Quartz glass optical storage, holographic storage and DNA storage are three promising technologies that may become widely used in the future. The crucial factors necessary for these storage technologies to succeed are their storage density, transfer speed and commerciality. As of now, quartz glass optical storage leads the way as the most promising solution for large volume, low access data storage. However, research into DNA sequencing from other unrelated fields could make DNA archival storage more appealing than quartz glass in the longer run.

Fall 2021

Timothy Adams – Stability of Transtibial Socket Suspension Systems for Clinical Recommendation

Most currently available transtibial prosthesis socket suspension systems do not adequately secure the prosthetic to the residual limb. This leads to impaired biomechanical functionality, prosthesis control, and harm to the residual limb skin. Hence, it is imperative that the optimal suspension system is determined to mitigate these effects. It is concluded that out of three suspension systems, the vacuum-assisted suspension is the optimal solution as opposed to the suction and pin-lock suspension systems. It is shown that the vacuum-assisted suspension yields the minimum amount of pistoning, the second highest negative distal interface pressure during the swing phase of the gait cycle, and the minimal amount of residual limb volume loss. Although the pin-lock suspension has a greater negative distal interface pressure, the system tightly squeezes the residual limb in the process. This indicates that the vacuum-assisted suspension is a superior solution in this respect as it produces a marginally lesser amount of pressure without bringing about residual limb skin issues.

Save Page Now

If you are citing something from a web page, it is always a good idea to make a copy of it. Maybe save it as a PDF for your files. The lifespan of a web page is surprising short. It can be changed or even deleted, leaving little evidence behind.

A better idea might be to save the web page at the date and time of access into the Wayback Machine. The page, and outlinks, can be captured and added to Internet Archive, providing a link to how it appeared at the time. There is the added benefit of being able to compare the page at a later date to see any changes.

Internet Archive is one of the largest digital libraries in the world. They began with the Wayback Machine but it is now just one of the ways that they are preserving our digital history and making knowledge accessible to everyone.

Be sure to sign in after creating a free account, in order to see all of the save options available from the Wayback Machine.

Science Literacy Week, 2022

We have been participating in this Canada-wide celebration of science since 2015, but this year really is special. We could not be more enthusiastic about welcoming you to our McGill events, some virtual and others in-person. The theme of this year’s Science Literacy Week, taking place September 19-25, is Mathematics. It is such a wonderfully broad theme that, together with our campus partners, we were able to organize an array of learning opportunities for you.

I thought that I would break it down day by day with a few insights, but first there are two exhibits that have already launched and that you can check out right away. There is a Math / Music exhibit at the Marvin Duchow Music Library with materials from their collection that demonstrate the rich connections between the two disciplines. There is also a Mathematics Redpath Book Display, both physical (in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library) and virtual for some interesting reading material.


Monday

  • Stats-wise (12-1pm; in person): I was a student of Professor Rhonda Amsel during my undergrad at McGill (last century!) and she truly is a wonderful educator. I cannot wait to hear her talk about the ‘why’ of statistics. This presentation is for everyone.
  • Introduction to Working with Data in Excel (2-4pm; virtual): This is hands-on experience for the absolute beginner.

Tuesday

  • The Art of Explaining Science to Non-Specialists (12-1pm; virtual): Who better to introduce this important skillset than Science Communication Specialist at the Office of Science Education, Diane Dechief? I promise that this will be one hour well spent.
  • Plant Walk and Harvest (12-1pm; in person): The folks at Redpath Museum have been huge supporters of Science Literacy Week since the beginning. There are limited spots available for this McGill garden tour.
  • Intro to LaTeX (2-3pm; virtual): Get some LaTeX practice using the free online editor, Overleaf.

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday


That’s it so far. I’m sorry for all of the exclamation marks (it’s exciting). Register today for a workshop, or join us for one of the drop-ins. I hope to see you around 🙂

MyResearch

Advertisement for MyResearch graduate seminar series with the message, start your journey here.

Welcome to the Schulich Library summer edition of the MyResearch workshop series, restricted to McGill graduate and postdoctoral students. Choose the series that is designed for you, whether you are in health and biological sciences or physical sciences and engineering.

Register for each of the Zoom workshops in this series below.


MyResearch – Research Foundations

Take your research to the next level. Learn about the extensive library services that can support you throughout your research. Identify key resources you will need for your research, and learn advanced search strategies and techniques. Learn how to stay up to date on your topic by creating effective alerts.


MyResearch – EndNote Essentials

Find out how to build your personal database of references using EndNote. Learn how to organize the references in groups, produce bibliographies, attach files to your references, insert bibliographic citations in your papers in your chosen style, and more.


MyResearch – Getting Your Research Out

Your article is written – now what? Learn about important issues and trends in scholarly publishing such as Open Access and predatory publishing. Gain practical tips on identifying where you can publish and understand the role of citation analysis tools and metrics (such as impact factor and h-index). Learn about different scholarly profiles and their impact on your presence as a researcher. 


We hope that you will join us!

Books on display in May: Women in STEM

This month’s print book and ebook displays spotlight women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The books are about remarkable women who made advances in their fields, despite the challenges of oppressive systems and all of the forms that harassment can take. They tell the stories of women in STEM who did not quit.

The print book shelves can be found on the main floor of the Redpath Library Building, in the McLennan-Redpath Complex, during the month of May. Take a look at the selected titles in our catalogue list for the Women in STEM print book display.

The Women in STEM ebook display has an additional 100 titles to explore online.

Beyond books, I want to highlight two electronic videos in the McGill Library collection that are worth your attention: Ms. Scientist, and Picture a Scientist.

Ms. Scientist, 2018 film (43 minutes)

Around the world the fields of scientific research and development remain a male-dominated environment. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics less than thirty percent of the world’s researchers are women. Many women enter a career in science but leave because of roadblocks and challenges. Canada wants to change that. Brandy Yanchyk’s documentary Ms Scientist explores how Canada is trying to get female scientists to stay in the fields of science and progress to the top. Ms Scientist looks at the successes and challenges that Canada’s female scientists face. The film delves into their lives and examines the obstacles that are hindering their success such as balancing family and work, sexual harassment and unconscious bias.

Picture a Scientist, 2020 film (1 hour 37 minutes)

Picture a Scientist is a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. From cramped laboratories to spectacular field sites, we also encounter scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.

For more links, visit our Women in STEM page on the Redpath Book Display guide.

Have a lovely May!

These student papers are the best

Excellence in

Written Communication

I am delighted to present to you three of our Communication in Engineering, Excellence in Written Communication Award winners! These are the best student papers from past terms of CCOM 206. They have been added to eScholarship@McGill and they are well worth a read.

Nathan Robbins – Performance of Nose Cone Geometries on Sounding Rockets

Read the full paper on eScholarship

This investigation compares the performances of several nose cone geometries and their suitability for flight on a high-altitude sounding rocket. Many geometries have been proposed to mitigate the extreme aerodynamic forces and phenomena encountered during such high energy ascents. The geometries in question include the conic section, Haack Series nose cone, and the aerospike nose cone; all of which are evaluated according to their coefficients of drag, heating characteristics, and several outstanding factors such as wall shear stress, pressure distributions, and useful internal volume. The investigation concludes that the aerospike nose cone is well suited for high-altitude sounding rockets because of its capacity to reduce drag, its exceptional ability to reduce heating, and its larger useful internal volume. Through this unique combination of performance and volume, the aerospike nose cone is a likely candidate for the forebody of high-altitude sounding rockets for future missions.

Katia Rosenflanz – Biodiesel Production: Advancing Lipid Extraction to Fuel our Future

Read the full paper on eScholarship

The use of diesel and fossil fuels to power the globe’s increasing energy demands have caused large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, negatively impacting the environment. This has led researchers to investigate alternative energy sources. Biodiesel, a renewable, biodegradable, and environmentally-friendly resource, shows promise; microalgae, which consume large amounts of carbon dioxide, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases, has been introduced as a potential supply for the necessary oils. Because of algal cells’ strength and chemical properties, however, the physical extraction of lipids is difficult. This paper compares three methods to improve lipid extraction: microwave radiation, osmotic shock, and bead beating. They are assessed based on dry weight lipid output, efficiency, and scalability. Based on research, bead beating has high energy consumption and relatively low lipid production; thus, it is unadvisable for mass production. Osmotic shock has high output and no energy consumption, but is fairly inefficient due to a large time requirement. Microwave radiation performs fairly well in terms of lipid output, efficiency, and scalability, making it the most viable option, but microalgal biodiesel is only now entering the picture as an alternative energy source. Further research and resources must be invested in order to introduce these techniques into the global energy market.

Allan Reuben – Nanomagnetic Logic Circuits as an Alternative to Silicon CMOS-based Circuits for use in Extreme Environments

Read the full paper in eScholarship

As hardware and software technology improves, sending robots to do research in extreme environments is increasingly frequent. This shift creates a need for computer chips optimally designed for those environments. Computers that operate in extreme environments must account for limitations and requirements not present in consumer or corporate uses such as: extreme power management, high radiation exposure, and high computation reliability. Silicon-based computers have become the accepted standard in computing for every environment due to their high speed and ease of manufacturing. Nanomagnetic logic circuits are a promising new technology that may help engineers optimize computers for use in extreme environments. These two systems are compared based on their durability from radiation, power utilization, and clock speed. For mission-critical computer operation in extreme environments, nanomagnetic logic circuits offer many advantages over traditional silicon-based computers.

Metrics 3 x 3

I wanted to do a review of the 3 big citation indexes (Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar) at 3 different levels (articles, authors, and journals), since there have been some noteworthy changes this year. Citations are only a part of the story so I will point out when alternative metrics are available, such as views and mentions on social media.

A bit of history: Web of Science was launched as the Science Citation Index in the 1960s, by the Institute for Scientific Information. One thing that they did that set them apart while they were gathering information from journals, was to include each paper’s list of references. It seems like a small thing but it revealed the relationships between papers, and also provided citation counts.

Web of Science did not have any real competition as a citation index until 2004, with the launch of both Google Scholar and Scopus (from the publishing giant, Elsevier). While Web of Science is deep, indexing over 100 years of journal content, it is selective and therefore the coverage is not as wide as Google Scholar or Scopus.
  1. Article metrics

Citation counts may vary between the indexes, depending on their coverage of a subject. It is interesting to explore each one, and necessary to indicate where a count is coming from. The number is often highest in Google Scholar, since it can link to non-journal content like presentation slides.

Citations are useful in general because they allow you to move forward in time, finding newer papers that may be of interest. If a paper is important, you can always set up a citation alert to receive email notifications. Sorting your search results in Web of Science and Scopus by citations will also help you find those seed papers that are often referenced in your research area.

New in beta in Web of Science is the presence of enriched cited references in some records, with specifics on where in the text an article is cited, how many times, and in connection with which other references. They highlight hot papers, those published in the last two years with an unexpectedly high citation count over the most recent two months for their field. They also make it easy to find highly cited papers from the last 10 years.

Item-level usage counts came much later in Web of Science when people became interested in seeing alternative metrics. They count how many times people click on the full-text or export an item to a citation management program like EndNote (EndNote is available from McGill Library!). You can see which papers people are paying attention to in the last 180 days, or all time (really since 2013, when they began counting).

Scopus does have view counts, but they take alternative metrics further by integrating PlumX Metrics with 5 categories: Citations, usage (clicks and downloads), captures (bookmarks), mentions (blog posts, Wikipedia, etc.), and social media (tweets, Facebook likes, etc.).

2. Author metrics

Article citations are used to calculate author metrics. A popular metric is the h-index, where the number of citations an author has received meets their number of published papers (read about this index in Hirsch’s article in arXiv). Some criticisms of the h-index are that it is dependent on the age of the researcher and also on their field, so it shouldn’t be used for comparisons.

When searching for author metrics it is useful to have these identifiers on hand, if possible:

A new visualization in author profiles in Web of Science is the Beamplot, with citation data going back to 1980. Individual points on the plot represent the citations for a given paper, divided by the mean for papers in the same Web of Science subject category from that year.

3. Journal metrics

The Journal Impact Factor and other metrics for journals indexed in Web of Science are published each year in Journal Citation Reports. Web of Science is now a collection of subject indexes and Journal Impact Factor data is provided for journals in the Science and the Social Science Citation Index. This year, Journal Citation Reports has expanded to include the Arts & Humanities and Emerging Sources Citation Index journals, with their new metric: Journal Citation Indicator. It allows for comparison of journals across disciplines. 

There is an updated CiteScore methodology in Scopus with a 4-year publication window (the Journal Impact Factor has 2 years to build up citations). You can choose to rank only open access journals in a subject by CiteScore. You can also find out what percentage of a journal is made up of review articles (reviews are often highly cited), or is never cited at all, by using the Scopus source comparison tool.

Google Scholar does have a metrics page that ranks journals by h5-index (h-index for articles published in the previous 5 years). They can be organized by category and sub-category.

Journal metrics are not meant to be used to judge the research of individuals, but they can come in handy when you are deciding on where to publish your research. Still, they are no substitute for the advice of trusted experts.

I probably went on for too long, so please let me know if you have any questions!