New Article: “Are Elite Journals Declining?”

This interesting piece by Canadian and Estonian scholars is here.

The abstract reads:

Previous work indicates that over the past 20 years, the highest quality work have been published in an increasingly diverse and larger group of journals. In this paper we examine whether this diversification has also affected the handful of elite journals that are traditionally considered to be the best. We examine citation patterns over the past 40 years of 7 long-standing traditionally elite journals and 6 journals that have been increasing in importance over the past 20 years. To be among the top 5% or 1% cited papers, papers now need about twice as many citations as they did 40 years ago. Since the late 1980s and early 1990s elite journals have been publishing a decreasing proportion of these top cited papers. This also applies to the two journals that are typically considered as the top venues and often used as bibliometric indicators of “excellence”, Science and Nature. On the other hand, several new and established journals are publishing an increasing proportion of most cited papers. These changes bring new challenges and opportunities for all parties. Journals can enact policies to increase or maintain their relative position in the journal hierarchy. Researchers now have the option to publish in more diverse venues knowing that their work can still reach the same audiences. Finally, evaluators and administrators need to know that although there will always be a certain prestige associated with publishing in “elite” journals, journal hierarchies are in constant flux so inclusion of journals into this group is not permanent.

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Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.

The 2012 Web Index

The Web Index is an interesting new measurement of “the Web’s utility and impact on people and nations.”

Coverage is of “61 developed and developing countries, incorporating indicators that assess the political, economic and social impact of the Web, as well as indicators of Web connectivity infrastructure and use.”

Please see the “snapshot” here and the full report available here.

Hat tip to

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

“Happy Planet Index” (HPI): Measuring “What Matters”

The New Economics Foundation (nef) in the UK earlier this summer released:

The Happy Planet Index: 2012 Report — A global index of sustainable well-being

The Happy Planet Index is a new
measure of progress that focuses on
what matters: sustainable well-being for
all. It tells us how well nations are doing
in terms of supporting their inhabitants
to live good lives now, while ensuring
that others can do the same in the future.

In a time of uncertainty, the Index
provides a clear compass pointing
nations in the direction they need to
travel, and helping groups around the
world to advocate for a vision of progress
that is truly about people’s lives.

Hat tip to

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

New Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report: “Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response”

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has posted a new report:

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response (July 9, 2012)

From page 1 of the report:

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), a companion decision, the Court found that a state may not unduly burden the exercise of that fundamental right with regulations that prohibit or substantially limit access to the means of effectuating the decision to have an abortion. Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s rulings since Roe and Doe have continued to generate debate and have precipitated a variety of governmental actions at the national, state, and local levels designed either to nullify the rulings or limit their effect. These governmental regulations have, in turn, spawned further litigation in which resulting judicial refinements in the law have been no more successful in dampening the controversy.

Although the primary focus of this report is legislative action with respect to abortion, discussion of the various legislative proposals necessarily involves an examination of the leading Supreme Court decisions concerning a woman’s right to choose.

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Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

“Dealing with Data: A Case Study on Information and Data Management Literacy”

The open access, freely available, online PLoS (Public Library of Science) publication PLoSbiology has recently posted the following thoughtful contribution to the field of data and information literacy:

“Dealing with Data: A Case Study on Information and Data Management Literacy”

Here’s the abstract:

Our scientific body of knowledge is built upon data, which is carefully collected, analyzed, and presented in scholarly reports. We are now witnessing a dramatic shift in our relationship to data: where researchers once managed discrete, controllable building blocks of knowledge, they must now contend with a tsunami of information that paradoxically feeds the growing scientific output while simultaneously crushing researchers with its weight. Numerous national and international initiatives, projects, and working groups have been established to address the data dilemma from multiple angles, including recent Requests for Information from the US Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and a US White House announcement of spending US$200 million on “Big Data”. … Libraries have traditionally been the place to acquire information; now they have become the place to learn how to manage it. The eagle-i Consortium, a collaborative resource sharing network, is designed to address both the researcher’s data-sharing needs and the modern library’s new mandate to facilitate and accelerate the discovery of new knowledge. The launch and development of this initiative provides a vivid demonstration of the challenges that researchers, libraries, and institutions face in making their data available to others.

Hat tip to

Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.

Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security

Homeland Security Affairs, the website of the Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California has recently posted:

Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security
By John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart

The cumulative increase in expenditures on U.S. domestic homeland security over the decade since 9/11 exceeds one trillion dollars. It is clearly time to examine these massive expenditures applying risk assessment and cost-benefit approaches that have been standard for decades. Thus far, officials do not seem to have done so and have engaged in various forms of probability neglect by focusing on worst case scenarios; adding, rather than multiplying, the probabilities; assessing relative, rather than absolute, risk; and inflating terrorist capacities and the importance of potential terrorist targets. We find that enhanced expenditures have been excessive. To be deemed cost-effective in analyses that substantially bias the consideration toward the opposite conclusion, the security measures would have to deter, prevent, foil, or protect each year against 1,667 otherwise successful attacks that each inflicted some $100 million in damage (more than four per day) or 167 attacks inflicting $1 billion in damage (nearly one every two days). This is in the range of destruction of what might have happened had the Times-Square bomber of 2010 been successful. Although there are emotional and political pressures on the terrorism issue, this does not relieve politicians and bureaucrats of the fundamental responsibility of informing the public of the limited risk that terrorism presents, of seeking to expend funds wisely, and of bearing in mind opportunity costs. Moreover, political concerns may be over-wrought: restrained reaction has often proved to be entirely acceptable politically. And avoiding overreaction is by far the most cost-effective counterterrorism measure.

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The Mobile Phone: A Near-Ubiquitous Tool for Information-Seeking and Communication in the U.S.

According to a Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project national survey, “Americans and Their Cell Phones” (August 15, 2011), mobile telephones have become a near-ubiquitous tool for information seeking and communicating in the United States.

The survey shows that 83% of American adults own some kind of cell phone and that these devices have an impact on many aspects of their owners’ daily lives.

Hat tip to

Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.

American Automobile Association (AAA) Digest of Motor Laws

The American Automobile Association (AAA or “Triple A”) has released its latest edition of the venerable and valuable Digest of Motor Laws.

The digest is “an online compendium of laws and rules related to driving and owning a motor vehicle in the United States and Canada.”

It is possible browse each state’s traffic laws, driver’s license, vehicle titling and registration requirements, and fees and taxes.

It is also possible to compare specific laws or requirements across multiple jurisdictions — see here.

Hat tip to

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Over 90 Percent of College Students are online

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has recently published an interesting report

College Students and Technology (July 19, 2011)

arguably confirming what one might generally expect about Internet use by college/university-age people:

When it comes to general internet access, young adults of all stripes are much more likely than the general population to go online. Fully 92% of 18-24 year olds who do not attend college are internet users, comparable to the rate for community college students and just slightly lower than the rate for undergraduate and graduate students (nearly 100% of whom access the internet).

Undergraduate and graduate students differentiate themselves more clearly when it comes to home broadband access, as more than nine in ten undergraduate (95%) and graduate students (93%) are home broadband users—well well above the national adult average of 66%.

Community college students (78% of whom are home broadband users) and young non-students (82% of non-students in the 18-24 age cohort are home broadband users) adopt broadband in comparable numbers—both have higher adoption rates than older adults but lower adoption rates than students in undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Hat tip to