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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Find It @ Sheffield

Find it @ Sheffield is the new electronic resource discovery platform currently linking users to content spanning over 22,000 journals, including both subscription-based and open access. Essentially the system works by obtaining metadata from a centralised knowledge base to keep content current and resource access up-to-date without the need for extensive manual updates.

For the library one of the main advantages of using such a system is finding that we have access to much more content than previously thought of. Since its implementation access to ejournal content has significantly increased due to open access links we wouldn't have known about without the Ex Libris knowledge base the software runs from.

The new interface on the library webpages offers users multiple access points allowing journals to be searched and browsed through keywords, A-Z listings, subject headings, vendors and even DOIs and PMIDs. New sophisticated functionability also includes predictive typing and 'starts with'/'contains' buttons to limit searching and gather results much quicker than the legacy system.

findit-sheffield.jpg

Other than the obvious (the new search interface) the big change and arguably one of the most useful that individual users will notice is its power linking with third party databases such as Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Knowledge etc. Find It links will gradually be appearing over the next phase of the project next to articles in the search results to link users directly to the paper, a great time and effort saving capability:

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If you need any help in accessing journals in this new way don't hesitate to contact library staff as the legacy A-Z tables and subject groupings will disappear come the summer to make way for further development and customisation of the Find It system. Access to all e-content remains via MUSE both on and off campus.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Patent Problems?

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by the state to protect the features, methods and processes of an invention for a fixed period of time. They relate to the intellectual property rights of an invention and thus provide the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the content of the patent for a term of (usually) twenty years from the date the patent was filed.

In effect, filing for a patent is the purchase of a limited property right offered by the government in exchange for an agreement to share with the public the details of how inventions work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. But most importantly it gives a patent owner the ability to share innovations whilst legally protecting themselves from copycats and imitators. Other benefits of patenting your invention include the rights to:

  • sell the invention and all the intellectual property (IP) rights;

  • license the invention to someone else but retain all the IP rights;

  • discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention.


(source: Intellectual Property Office).

For further information about what patents are and how you can apply for them visit the Intellectual Property Office or alternatively check out The European Patent Office.

To find patents there are a variety of Internet resources available and Google themselves even have a searchable database, specifically covering US patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The two main sites I'd recommend to find UK/European patents are:

Both offer free pdf downloads and occasionally translations are included for non-English language versions.

And finally, just for fun see Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Ideas shed in associaton with the Intellectual Property Right office. I'm hoping for great things to emerge from the Playground of Ideas when it launches in March to coincide with the World of Innovation exhibition at the Science Museum, London.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Science Commons

Established in 2005 the Science Commons is a Creative Commons project group with the aim 'to speed the translation of data into discovery and thereby the value of research'. By identifying the unecessary barriers of scientific research such as firewalls, commercial and institutional intellectual property rights and the handing over of copyright to established journals (essentially crippling scientific information exchange communities) the SC negotiate agreements to lower these restrictions, thus making information easier to find and use:
We work on agreements between funders and grant recipients, between universities and researchers and between funders and universities — all in the service of opening up scientific knowledge, tools and data for reuse. We also promote the use of CC licensing in scientific publishing, on the belief that scientific papers need to be available to everyone in the world, not simply available to those with enough resources to afford subscription fees (source).

For further information about the individual projects being worked on see:

One final point: Articles are not published on the Science Commons pages so don't expect to find literature there. Instead see The Directory of Open Access Journals as journals with the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) seal of approval adopt the Creative Commons licensing method.

Monday, 2 February 2009

eBook Survey

This year's JISC NeBO survey has launched and we'd like to take this opportunity to ask for your participation by completing the survey online. As this is our second year involved with the project we are hoping to build a time series of data in conjuction with JISC and the JISC Ebook Observatory project at UCL to monitor how our ebook access is progressing and how our users are interacting with electronic information. Eventually this data will be used to assess the future of the service and how we can work to improve it.

As a little incentive to get involved all completed surveys will be entered into a prize draw for £200 worth of Amazon vouchers! And like last year all surveys are considered confidential and consequently treated as such.