Information seeking behavior in the high energy physics community
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Information-Seeking Behavior in the High-Energy Physics Community. Tamar Sadeh School of Informatics, City University, London Ex Libris HCI conference, Prague, November 2008. Agenda. The high energy physics (HEP) community HEP information resources SPIRES arXiv The HEP survey

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Information seeking behavior in the high energy physics community

Information-Seeking Behavior in the High-Energy Physics Community

Tamar Sadeh

School of Informatics, City University, London

Ex Libris

HCI conference, Prague, November 2008


Agenda

Agenda

  • The high energy physics (HEP) community

  • HEP information resources

    • SPIRES

    • arXiv

  • The HEP survey

  • What do HEP researchers say?

  • The “magic spell” of SPIRES and arXiv

  • Conclusions


The high energy physics community

The high energy physics community

  • About 20,000 scientists

  • Collaboration on a large, international scale

  • Specific needs


Spires background

SPIRES—background

  • 1960s: established at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)

  • 1974: computerized by teams from SLAC and Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY)

  • Today: a joint project of SLAC, DESY, and Fermilab; supported by the community


Spires

SPIRES

  • Provides access to the literature, people, institutions, research, and experiments in the fields of particle and astroparticle physics


Arxiv

arXiv

  • 1991: founded at Los Alamos National Laboratories by Professor Paul Ginsparg

  • 2001: moved to Cornell

  • Serves as a repository for preprints in physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science, and quantitative biology

  • October 2008: 500,000 articles


Spires and arxiv community resources

SPIRES and arXiv: community resources

  • Users generate primary and secondary content

  • Users take part in building tools and proofing content

  • Users are involved

  • Resources are freely available to all

  • Web 2.0 way before the term was coined!


The hep survey

The HEP Survey

  • Took place in early summer 2007

  • 2,115 replies

  • Multiple-choice and open-ended questions

  • GENTIL-BECCOT, Anne; MELE, Salvatore; HOLTKAMP, Annette; O'CONNELL, Heath B.; BROOKS, Travis C. (2008). Information resources in high-energy physics: Surveying the present landscape and charting the future course. arXiv:0804.2701 [online]. Available from www: http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.2701


Issues addressed in open ended replies

Issues addressed in open-ended replies

  • Coverage

  • Means of finding the information

  • Effort required to find and obtain information

  • Related services


Coverage

Coverage

  • Content: is everything there? What else is there?

  • Focus on HEP: advantage or disadvantage?

  • Availability of full text: is it freely available? Which version of it?

  • Period of coverage: are old materials available?

  • Type of materials: what about presentations, lecture notes, datasets?


Means of finding the information

Means of finding the information

  • Search

    • Search for a “known” item

    • Exploratory search

  • New submissions

  • Navigation through a mesh of links


Effort required to find and obtain information

Effort required to find and obtain information

  • Search interface: is it easy enough? Is it sophisticated enough?

  • Search engine: is it fast? Is it accurate? Is it tolerant? Does it search the full text?

  • Overall experience: how long does it take to find and obtain the desired materials?


Services

Services

  • New submissions

  • References and citations

  • Citation analysis

  • Bibliographic tools


What is a good search interface

What is a good search interface?

  • “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

  • About 30% of the respondents addressed this question

  • SPIRES: respondents are divided equally

  • arXiv: ration of 1:10—most do not like the search interface


Three resources one framework

Three resources, one framework

  • “I use SPIRES, arXiv, and Google in equal measure. SPIRES is the easiest way to find HEP papers; arXiv is the easiest way to find new papers; Google is the easiest way to find everything else.”

  • “The interplay between SPIRES and arXiv is a beautiful scenario.”


The magic spell

The “magic spell”

  • What makes SPIRES and arXiv so valuable?

    • Created, maintained, and owned by the community

    • Free and easily accessible

    • Focused on the community’s needs


Respondents say that clearly

Respondents say that clearly

  • “SPIRES is doing a wonderful service to the community.”

  • “SPIRES was a historical moment in science. Other fields should use it as a prototype.”

  • “SPIRES is simply the way we search for articles in HEP. Period. No competition. No competition needed.”


Information seeking behavior in the high energy physics community

  • “the most is the tremendous service it [arXiv] does to the community for giving immediate access to new works and for the massive store it is”

  • “It's hard to imagine doing physics without arXiv.”

  • “It would take a few articles to do justice to the historical role of arXiv in the evolution of scientific information mediation… The speed, freedom and availability of published research results is by far the most important contribution of arXiv.”


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • HEP community resources are an extraordinary achievement

  • Content, user experience, and services are all important; however, the community effort makes the difference

  • SPIRES and arXiv need to adapt to the expectations of the “Google age” researchers to ensure continued success


Thank you

Thank you!


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