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AFRO-NETS> Tutorial: Finding One's Way into the Citation Maze



Tutorial: Finding One's Way into the Citation Maze
--------------------------------------------------

Following some requests I have just included a 16-step built-in tuto-
rial on the cluster analysis of bibliographical references into the 
programme "Citation Thread 3.0". The programme is free (but copy-
righted) and may be directly downloaded (size: 341 KB, minimum re-
quirements: 386 with 4 MB, 20 MB disk-space, WinZip, any web-browser 
and Windows-95 - it won't run with Windows-3.1):

http://nucwww.chem.sunysb.edu/CLabadie/gentil/CitationThread-3_0.zip

In addition the programme allows to export bibliographies into HTML-
pages, RTF for word-processors with pre-formatted reference text-
marks (for use in a dissertation or paper), XLS for spreadsheets and 
to refine citation index queries.

The current version was designed to offer a cluster analysis core en-
gine capable of running on most home computers. The next version cur-
rently under development will add a graphical user interface, hope-
fully a faster core engine and a client for Linux. You may read addi-
tional information at:

http://nucwww.chem.sunysb.edu/CLabadie/Thread.html

The technique of cluster analysis of bibliographical references has 
been around for almost half a century [1]. It has mostly been used to 
monitor the impact of patents, to evaluate the ranking of interna-
tional journals, and by government to detect emerging technologies. 
But it could be a handy tool for students as well to find their way 
into a new field. 

For undergraduate and graduate students access to libraries is a tra-
ditional necessity [2]. As online and distance education open new op-
portunities for higher education [3], the need for access to univer-
sity library services will rise.

Although the Internet is offering the possibility to purchase re-
prints or copies of almost any research document, this may not solve 
the situation for distance students or those penalised by the short-
comings of the university library from which they depend. Unfortu-
nately, in several countries the number of volumes available at uni-
versity libraries does not suffice: a minimum of 1 volume per inhabi-
tant would be necessary, but several countries dispose of less than 
0.1 volume per inhabitant. A library with an adequate number of col-
lections is a place where students can browse countless documents be-
fore deciding which one to read: for example, a figure, a table may 
speak much more for an article than its title or abstract.

Onsite, it is quite easy to directly check cited references and see 
if they offer additional help. Yet the online and distance students 
may not have a "quick look" before "ordering". The advantage of a 
prior cluster analysis of bibliographical references is to "preview" 
a field of investigation before "entering" it, in a similar fashion 
to "entering a specialised library". They will be able to locate the 
most influential documents or authors, to see how papers interact to-
gether, to get a feeling for where research is heading to, etc.

If you are interested to participate in an online collaborative sum-
mer course on using Citation Thread 3.0 (tentative date July-August 
2000, free for residents of developing countries), you may obtain 
pre-registration details under the training section at:

http://nucwww.chem.sunysb.edu/CLabadie/Thread.html 

Hope this helps, 

Christian Labadie 
mailto:CLabadie@t-online.de

--
[1] Garfield E (1955) Science 122:108

[2] Cara Machan wrote on AFRO-NETS: <<[RFI: Direction for PhD in Pub-
lic Health] I have been working in the HIV/AIDS field, under many 
different hats for a number of years now, and am interested in going 
back to get my PhD in public health...>>

[3] Pat Chueu asked on AFRO-NETS: <<[RFI: Perinatal deaths due to un-
treated or unknown syphilis] I am interested in the above topic for 
my dissertation here in the North West Province: South Africa. I am 
an MPhil student doing distance learning at the University of Cape 
Town...>> 

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