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Research Practice: Resource Economy

Research practices and processes.

Resource Economy

The Resource Economy

Knowledge of how resources are created, collected, and presented can help guide both discovery and evaluation. A "hermeneutics of suspicion" is appropriate to apply not only to original sources and secondary sources but the mediator of these sources -- both the people who digitize and catalog for example and the software algorithms by which results are ranked and sorted. "There are no a priori correct answers, and human judgments on the usefulness of a result are ultimately decisive." (Koolen 2009)

  • Categories of resource providers
    • non-profit vs profit: e.g., JSTOR (Mellon Foundation) vs EBSCO.
    • content-creators vs aggregators
  • Value added vs value subtracted: Am I getting "processed food" or the real thing? Vendors and academic creators make "market" decisions as to the cost-benefits of different options.
    • Digitization: Does it need to be 100% accurate (e.g., canonical text) or accurate enough, e.g., Google Book's use of "dirty" ocr (automatic Optical Character Recognition without human quality control).
    • Indexing, cataloging, and metadata standards and controlled vocabularies vary from vendor to vendor or creator to creator.
    • Relevance ranking: some tools e.g. Google, DiscoverE rank by relevance and use different algorithms. Others, e.g., some database interfaces, do not try to filter by some criteria of relevance and return all records that match the keywords.
    • "Peer-reviewed": Aggregators, e.g., EBSCO and Proquest, use their own unique definitions or criteria.
    • Delivery formats vary: Major formats include pdf, html, flash, Epub, mobile.  Pdf claims to offer the most accurate representation of the original text which may be more important with canonical texts.  Other formats sacrifice faithfulness to original format in favor of user convenience e.g., links.
    • Search interfaces vary e.g., in use of truncation, wildcards, boolean operators, limiters.
  • Major vendors used by Emory
  • Future of Electronic books and ejournals
    • Data indicates emerging dominance of electronic resources in the marketplace.
      • In 2006 e-only journal sales surpassed print-only
      • In 2009 ebook sales surpassed print-only
      • Google Books has already scanned 7 million; 40 million eventually.
    • Trends
      • "Chunking" or slicing and dicing works like books into pieces, e.g., sell by chapters. LonelyPlanet is an example.
      • User chosen delivery formats: leading edges are SafariU, national academies of science (NAS)
      • Snippets, browsing and online sampling options, e.g., Google Books, NAS
    • Catalogs and lists of ebooks



Koolen, Marijn, Jaap Kamps, and Vincent de Keijzer. “Information Retrieval in Cultural Heritage.” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 34.2 (2009): 268-284. <>.

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