Modernizing academic citation practices, and the power of expressive links

Patrick Dunleavy (of the London School of Economics and Political Science) proposes not only a streamlining, but an expansion of the potential of referencing (“Academic citation practices need to be modernized: references should lead to full texts wherever possible“).  Starting with a call for journal abbreviations to be less esoteric and volume and issue numbers to lose their importance, he points out that references now should be links, i.e., URLs, so we are pointing readers not to hyper-specific slivers of the source, but acquainting them with the whole scope of the source.  Page numbers are now passé (and subject to change over time).

Most interesting, however, is his call for links to be more than identifiers of precise snippets:  make the link text a short phrase from the passage, so the reader can click on the link and then search within the resulting page for the referenced passage.  But beyond that, making a greater portion of one’s own text the link text results in a more expressive link (a usability principle–an extension of the deprecation of “click here” links) that connotes the argument made by the linked article, and thus offers more useful direction to the reader.  Also, links can be skimmed for in a page, and possibly extracted, grouped, and sorted.

Promoting Open Access–within reason (using OA versions)

Peter Suber, proponent par excellence of Open Access, has put forth an opinion less controversial than it seemed at first.  He advocates that scholars should cite Open Access works preferentially.  As Sean Burns of the University of Kentucky in libfocus points out, he is not proposing that paywalled sources be neglected, but that Open Access versions of such articles be cited.

Research Data Alliance promoted by NSF

The U.S. National Science Foundation showed its support for research data per se in a press release about the Research Data Alliance (RDA).  The RDA is a new organization with an open structure–still not heavily populated yet–for researchers and data professionals to come together in comment boards and occasional face-to-face meetings. When it finally gets going it should be a nice complement to IASSIST.

Bill of rights for learning in digital age: have you met the remix yet?

As HASTAC heralds a forum (the HASTAC way) on “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” which calls for access, contribution from all over the world, and “pedagogical transparency” (students should know the background and outcomes of educational objects in advance), the open spirit represented therein calls to mind Lawrence Lessig’s advocacy of more reasonable copyright laws to support rapidly produced multimedia conglomerations. At this time, we are still waiting to hear if the two streams are finding each other.

The expanding Twitterverse

People are starting to consider Twitter less novel and constrained (the 140-character limit) and more navigable (helped by things like Tweetdeck), as reported in econtentmag (“Twitter comes of age“). Gerry McKiernan, engineering librarian at Iowa State University, is a prolific commentator and announced years ago [citation being sought] that he was moving from list posts to blogs, and then using Twitter as his medium of choice. It still isn’t as organizable as e-mail, but certainly it’s getting too popular not to check regularly, even for scholarly information as academics announce their latest publications or ideas.