A currently ongoing surprising event affecting what I considered one of my least important articles (https://doi.org/10.19232/uv4pb.2016.1.92), has made me rethink how search engines and the internet affect the impact of publications.
Among web site developers “SEO” is considered a very important factor in being successful in “drawing traffic or page reads” to a site. SEO means search-engine optimisation. For web pages, it involves much more than subjectively choosing suitable words for titles. In a way it is like reverse engineering how research engines like Google work, so as to write web pages in a way such that they will appear near the top of searches as frequently as possible. There exist different types of tools and software to help in the task of achieving good “SEO” and even companies that offer for a payment SEO for websites. My thoughts are: do we need similar tools for SEO of research papers? Needed or not, a more important question is how much do the properties of the algorithms used by search engines affect the impact of the articles we write? I do not know the answers, but I think these are important questions.
What is the incident? To me it looks like a snowball effect, helped by accidental good SEO. I wrote a short review of a book in the UV4Plants Bulletin (http://bulletin.uv4plants.org) and as it is allowed, made it available through ResearchGate. It is being read and being followed and recommended… but much more than what would seem to me to be reasonable, to the point that it has already been on two weeks according to ResearchGate the most read article from a Finnish author! and more than once the most read forestry article worldwide (although neither the Bulletin, nor the reviewed book, have anything to do with forestry).
My talk at the Nordic Ozone Group meeting. Although this is a video, I used it as one would use slides, with me speaking live. A true video with sound or subtitles will be produced in the future. The presentation is a demo of the R package ‘ooacquire’, which I have written. It is currently in use at the SenPEP research group, CanSEE research group and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (including at a station in India). The package implements algorithms developed by our collaborator Lasse Ylianttila at the Radiation Authority Finland.
Mentoring has been an everyday activity for me as supervisor of students (PhD and MSc) and postdoctoral researchers. This mentoring has usually focused mainly on research itself, and the specific field of research I work in. In addition I have brought to the discussion more general topics but they had been mostly unplanned detours from other discussions. To some extent, answering questions in ResearchGate, StackOverflow and through e-mail, has also been small-scale mentoring. I have regularly taught at and organized training events for PhD students and early stage researchers. In recent years I have edited a handbook on methods in photobiology, and co-authored another one on calculations related to photobiology. I have written a text book on the R language, aimed mainly at independent learning. I have developed open-source software to make correct calculations and plotting of radiation data as used in photobiology easier. The aim behind all this work has been to make “good science” easier to carry out, and through mentoring and training, to encourage other researchers in my own field to pay more attention into avoiding methodological pitfalls. Continue reading “Researchers mentoring researchers”
We have been using R for our data analyses for several years, and accumulated expertise and scripts for calculations related to photobiology. After more than two years of work of programming and documentation writing, in the last year I have submitted eight packages to the CRAN repository, packages that are now widely available for anybody to use. All code and documentation is open-source and open-access.
There are still more packages under development of which the ones I find more interesting are two that allow direct acquisition of spectral data from within R allowing use of all the power of R to analyse spectra in almost real time during measurements. They also incorporate state of the art correction algorithms for array detector spectrometers.
In recent times I have been participating in RCAFi (Red de Científicos Argentinos en Finlandia = Network of Argentinian Scientists in Finland) of which I am currently the scientific coordinator. The minister of Science and Technology of Argentina recently visited Finland, and RCAFi members had dinner with him at the Ambassador’s residence.
This handbook describes how to use R as a tool for doing calculations related to research in photobiology. Photobiology is the branch of science that studies the interactions of living organisms with visible and ultraviolet radiation. The most frequently used calculations are related to the characterization of radiation and of the responses of organisms to radiation. Many of these calculations are also used in Biophysics, Meteorology and Geophysics.