Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, Volume 45

Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 9 August 2011



Calvert, P. (2011), "Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, Volume 45", The Electronic Library, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 550-552.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is the 45th volume of a classic serial and the tenth edited by Blaise Cronin. Each year it is one of the highlights of information science publishing, and if you are not familiar with it then you really should go to your library and dip into previous volumes. I recommend this title to every library supporting an LIM programme, and my advice to any information manager who wishes to peer over the operational trenches for a few seconds is that you will find something in every ARIST volume to broaden your horizons.

A section on Scholarly Communication has become a regular in ARIST, so it is no surprise to see it again, this time with three excellent chapters. The topic of peer review is relevant across all scholarly endeavour, and is often regarded as one of the keystones of quality control within the scholarly communication process and of fellowship and grant applications. It is not surprising, therefore, that peer review has been the subject of intense scrutiny for many years, and there is no sign that the interest shown in it is abating. Bornmann's chapter is a meta‐analysis of the recent literature on peer review for he does not simply summarise recent research but uses it to answer his own questions about the reliability, fairness and predictive validity of peer review. His conclusion for the first theme is that reviewers are often not in agreement, but that when reliability is low there can be benefits from more varied perspectives and better validity. For the second he reports that many studies show how unfair peer review can be, but that studies focussing on just one variable can overlook the significance of others, and therefore the case against peer review on grounds of its bias or unfairness is not proven. On the third theme Bornmann is more confident that peer review is working as it is supposed to, and that it acts as a quality filter and is still a necessary part of the self‐regulation of science. The second chapter in the Scholarly Communication section is by Kowalczyk and Shankar on “Data sharing in the sciences”. To bring this complex topic together the authors use a framework that first defines data; the formats, the contexts in which it is created, measures of quality, and its persistence. They then look at the nature of data collections, and here their simple classification of research, community and reference collections is actually a useful way of comprehending the diverse nature of data sets. Naturally they give some attention to metadata, ontologies and vocabularies for access and discovery. Another key element included is data security. This is a useful chapter because so many information managers now work in fields that create or at least use large data sets. The final chapter in the section on “Scholarly communication” is by two very familiar authors, Donald King and Carol Tenopir, who have here reviewed several studies on the economic aspects of scholarly journals.

One characteristic of ARIST that has always added to its value has been the wide range of authors commissioned by the editors. This volume starts with a very familiar section header, “Information management”, yet the first chapter manages to surprise, largely because it is written by Whittaker of IBM Research, rather than by an author working in library or archival science. Taking a polar view of information seeking from the one espoused by librarians and archivists, Whittaker argues that the information “consumption” model as he calls it fails to account for most of our personal information management (PIM). We as individuals, curate a great deal of information that we use on a regular basis, rather than going out to look for information we know might not be easy to find. We store papers, photographs, email messages, contacts, and web site links, and the falling costs of scanners and disc storage has made it much easier to digitise large amounts of PIM. This creates a need for new devices to remind us of what we have stored and what we need to do, examples being bookmarks and calendars. Rather than the process of seeking new information that is central to traditional models, PIM is about exploitation rather than seeking. This chapter is a massive eye‐opener. In the other chapter on Information Management section, Bawden and Robinson give a thorough account of changes in pharmaceutical information over the last 30 years.

The second section is also on a familiar subject, this time “Information retrieval”. Blake writes about text mining, curiously a new topic for ARIST despite the enormous current importance of electronic text. This chapter includes descriptions of various methods currently in use, such as classification, clustering and association rules that identify patterns in the text. In addition, she says that much attention is being given to the use of standards in the creation of text documents. Wachoder's chapter on interactive query formulation is a challenge; it is a difficult topic to analyse because so much query formulation takes place inside the brain. Her overall conclusion is that, though this remains a difficult topic to investigate, some real progress is being made and it might eventually help improve information retrieval systems.

The fourth section on “Technology trends” is broad enough to allow for a variety of subjects. Haigh's history (more of a bibliographical review) of information technology is a pleasant read, and it helps the older reader such as myself to reminisce a little. The more serious purpose of this sort of review is its addition to the growing field of “information history”. Similarly Grudin's chapter on human‐computer interaction is mostly a retrospective, though it ends with a short look forward. In contrast, Hara and Huang's look at online social movements deals with a current development. Information technology facilitates rapid communication amongst geographically dispersed communities, it also allows for the creation of a sense of unity in virtual groups. The authors review studies of social movements of all hues that have utilised new technologies. They conclude that online activity is central to many current social movements, but allow for some doubts about just how important technology is in some countries with low uptake of recent social networking applications. The fifth and final section has a single, neat and thorough chapter by Lipinski on Fair Use in US Copyright law.

Unfortunately it seems that this is to be the last of ARIST. The Editor tells us that rising costs, declining institutional subscriptions and the reluctance of some authors to write for the commercial model have all led to the decision to end the serial with this volume. If the open access model ever produces anything as satisfying as ARIST, I for one will be very surprised.

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