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!

It’s Virtually Science Literacy Week!

Science Literacy Week will be celebrated this September 20 to 26 with climate as the theme. We can help you become a citizen climate scientist with a workshop on capturing the McGill Observatory’s historical weather logs with DRAW, the Data Rescue: Archives and Weather Project.

You can also learn The Art of Explaining Science to Non-Specialists, or how to turn your research into a business, with From Science to Startup: A Beginner’s Guide to Entrepreneurship as a Researcher.

If you are looking for something relaxing this semester, McGill Visual Arts Collection invites you to a Science Literacy Week edition of their on-going De-Stress + Sketch series.

Our Science Literacy Week guide also has lots of virtual exhibits and links promoting resources and materials at McGill Library and beyond, including the wonderful Ocean School from the National Film Board of Canada.

Join us as we help spread the wonders of science Canada-wide!

Sneak peek inside Schulich Library

We cannot wait to welcome you back to the Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering. With renovations of the Macdonald-Stewart Library Building at 20% completion, we thought that it might be time to show you how things are going on the inside.

Schulich Library basement under construction, with floor pipes and ceiling exposed
Schulich Library, basement
Schulich Library main floor under construction, with ceiling exposed
Schulich Library, main floor
Schulich Library 3rd floor under construction, with ceiling exposed
Schulich Library, 3rd floor
Schulich Library 3rd floor under construction, with ceiling exposed inside the turret
Schulich Library, 3rd floor (inside the turret)
Schulich Library 5th floor under construction, with ceiling exposed and markings on the floor for a future bathroom
Schulich Library, 5th floor (planning for washrooms!)
Schulich Library 5th floor under construction, with ceiling exposed inside the turret
Schulich Library, 5th floor (inside the turret)
Decorative stone piece outside of the Schulich Library
Waiting to rejoin Schulich Library…

For more information on the renovation project, please see the project page.

All photos credit: Merika Ramundo, 2021-05-04

April is citizen science month

It is April and spring is in the air in Montreal. While it might be too late for us to collect data on local skating rinks for RinkWatch, there are a multitude of science projects that we can all take part in, from inside or outside of our homes, from wherever we may be. We can help researchers learn more about dogs, or cicadas, microbes, the weather, technologies… and the list goes on. Explore the different options in the project finder from SciStarter.

Here are a few citizen science projects from McGill:

  • DRAW McGill: Transcribe historical weather data from McGill’s Observatory.
  • Phylo: Solve a puzzle and help genetic disease research.
  • Colony B: Identify clusters of bacteria in a fast paced mobile game.

If you want to learn more about citizen science, a great place to start is with this interactive introduction to citizen science tutorial.

Happy April!

April 🙂

Science Literacy Week goes virtual

Next week is Science Literacy Week!

It is a week when we get together across the country to share our love of science, and at McGill Library we have a wonderful virtual program to share with you.

Monday, Sept. 21

  • 2 – 3 p.m. The Art of Communicating Science to Non-Specialists [register]

Wednesday, Sept. 23

  • 10:30 – 11:15 a.m., Urban Heat Island Effect [register]
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Keeping Up with Artificial Intelligence – AI Literacy [register]

Thursday, Sept. 24

  • 5:30 – 7 p.m., Science Literacy Week Book Club: Data feminism, by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F Klein. McGill users can read the e-book here. Everyone can read this book open access online here. [register].

Sunday, Sept. 27

But wait, there’s more! We have lots of ‘science at play‘ resources for you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily colouring pages and puzzles made with images from items in our Rare & Special Collections. Or how about a scavenger hunt? Take photos of any of the items on this list during Science Literacy Week and tag both #SciLit and @McGillLib on social media.

Science Literacy Week scavenger hunt:

  • Interact with old tech: cassettes, mini-discs, laser discs, rotary phone, etc…
  • Find something with ‘patent pending’ or a trademark
  • Animal tracks
  • A native plant
  • A native bird
  • A rock bigger than your hand
  • A cumulus cloud 
  • Something made out of natural fibres 
  • Someone riding a bicycle 
  • Make a shadow puppet
  • A rainbow 
  • Something being reused or recycled
  • Condensation
  • A fossil
  • A data visualization
  • A DIY project
  • An example of each of the 6 classical simple machines:
    • Lever
    • Wheel and axle
    • Pulley
    • Inclined plane
    • Wedge
    • Screw

You will also find 360 videos and DIY viewer information on our guide.

Still more! Homecoming and Redpath Museum has their own lineup of virtual events. We have added them to our online calendar so be sure to check them out.

See you soon, friends (virtually).

An active Science Literacy Week

This year, Science Literacy Week will keep you moving. Beginning September 16, there are tours lined up, a game-based session around data management, a hands-on Excel workshop, interactive sound demonstrations, and exhibits to explore.

Here is the daily rundown of downtown activities organized by the Library:

Monday, (Sept 16): Montreal’s Urban Heat Island: Tour of temperature sensors on campus

Tuesday, (Sept 17): Tour of the Maude Abbott Medical Museum

Wednesday, (Sept 18): Sounds in the City + Treasures from the History of Science in Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, (Sept 19): Tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning + Discover the cure! An introduction to the fundamentals of data management

Friday, (Sept 20): Chart Making in Excel: Going Further by Telling a Story with your Data

Register for an event today!

We also have exhibits going on so don’t miss out on those. You will get the opportunity to test out your map literacy in the Redpath Library Building, and check out a science book in person or online.