Friday, October 23, 2009


Employees of Carpenter Library found themselves exercising during the Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 tour of the Heart Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Starting in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab on the fourth floor of Ardmore (Brenner's) Tower, tourists learned that these are the "plumbers" for heart patients.
Heart Center physicians and staff are assessing the heart by inserting catheters into the heart and injecting dye to acquire images of the coronary arteries as well as the chambers of the heart. Depending upon the findings, the physicians may then insert a stent to open up the coronary artery blockage. Many of these stents are coated with special medications designed to help keep the blockage open.

Rich Lundy, Director of the Heart Center, said since they started using medicated stents, the percentage of patients coming back to WFUBMC for revision of their stent within the first year has decreased from nearly 25% to less than 5%.
A stent is a mesh-like scaffolding mounted over a tiny balloon that expands once inserted into the coronary artery. The stent is expanded into place, the balloon is withdrawn allowing for improved blood flow to the heart and better pump function. There are four adult catheterization labs and one pediatric catheterization lab. The pediatric lab is a bi-plane lab which means the equipment has two cameras on it, allowing for more angles/photos of the heart and less radiation exposure for the patient. WFUBMC was the first in the country to purchase this particular bi-plane equipment from Siemens, a German company.

Still walking but now from Ardmore to the Ground floor of Reynolds Tower where the Cardiac Ultrasound/Stress Testing lab is located.
This lab houses the echocardiogram equipment which uses sound waves to produce images of the heart, including 3-D images. Clinical staff and physicians look for heart abnormalities and determine the effectiveness of the beating heart. Some patients are put under cardiac stress via exercising on a treadmill, stationary bicycle, or with drugs. Images of the heart are acquired at rest and at peak exercise and analyzed for abnormalities.

The next stop is at the Electrophysiology (EP) Lab and Heart Station. EP physicians are often referred to as the “electricians” focusing on diagnosis and correction of abnormal heart rhythms. The Implantable pacemakers, defibrillators, and cardiac rhythm devices of all sizes are located here as well as portable EKG machines. Patients of this area return often during the long-term treatment to have EKG or pacemakers checked or for therapy, including advice about their different medicines. Mr. Lundy helped partner with Pharmacy and Cardiology to set up an anticoagulation clinic for patients who need frequent monitoring and adjustment of their anticoagulation medications. Pharmacists provide point of care lab testing and can give patients immediate feedback and adjust medications as needed.

Making way through various hallways and up to the first floor of Reynolds Tower to the Cardiovascular Imaging Center where MRI's are taken of the heart.
Of the several areas of the entire Heart Center, this is probably the least busiest with six to eight patients per day, compared to the 110 patients per day in the Cardiac Ultrasound/ECHO lab. Physicians though are able to read multiple types of tests (ECHO, Cardiac MRI, Cardiac CT) in two separate areas, one in each lab. There is also a live-feed into the stress echo testing rooms allowing quick physician consultation with the echo staff during procedures. Like in the ECHO lab, patients are put under stress via a treadmill or drugs and then the MRI is performed.

The final trek is to the Sticht Center where Mr. Lundy showed the tourists the Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehabilitation department.
Once again, treadmills and stationary bicycles lined the long, rectangular room with oxygen tanks and accessories along the walls. The rehabilitation of hearts was started over 30 years ago as a joint project between the Bowman Gray campus and Reynolda campus. It was the first in the country. Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients participate in a 12-week program that teaches them about lifestyle changes after experiencing heart or lung problems.

Not seen by the tourists were the several nursing units for heart patients, the outpatient clinics and the cardiothoracic surgery area.
As administrative/business director for the Heart Center, Mr. Lundy works closely with all the nursing units, clinics and surgical departments. He serves on the Heart Transplant evaluation team which meets every Tuesday to determine if someone meets the criteria for a heart transplant. WFUBMC does about 10 heart transplants per year and there are 16 people waiting for a transplant.

While the Heart Center is physically scattered, the employees of all the areas are definitely the opposite - always working as a team, which was a heart-warming sight to fellow coworkers here at WFUBMC.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Laundry and Linens

Five Carpenter Library employees were seeing blue, green, yellow, white and hearing lots of numbers on 2SB (sub-basement) of Reynolds Tower during their tour of the Laundry and Linen Distribution departments on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.

Associate Director Dennis Robinson shared his vast knowledge and time during the hour-long tour. He rattled off lots of numbers, like:
  • 1,200 flat white bed sheets are ironed in one hour
  • 9,000 barrier gowns are used per day
  • 400 carts of linens and laundry is picked up/delivered per day
  • 6,000 washcloths are used per day
  • 1,800 - 1,900 thermal blankets are used per day
  • 4,000 underpads are used per day
  • 165 pounds of towels can be held in one sling hanging from the ceiling
  • 205 pounds of flat sheets can be held in one sling
  • 35-40,000 pounds of soiled linen are handled per day
There are 60 people who work in the Laundry section and 20 people who distribute linens to more than 185 departments/patient areas on the WFUBMC campus. The Department also handles the laundry for Stokes-Reynolds Memorial Hospital, Stokes Family Health and J.R. Jones Medical Center. Amazingly, all this work is done with a schedule of seven days a week for first shift and five days a week for second shift.

Laundry and Linen started in a space of 9,000 square feet in 1923 when the hospital opened. Employees handled five million pounds per year. Now, still in its 9,000 square feet, employees have handled up to 14 million pounds of laundry per year.

The department is responsible for 13 scrub dispensers and 11 scrub receivers. The 4,000 users of the scrub machines have encoded cards for acquiring a set of scrubs and for returning a set of scrubs. Before the machines were installed in 1996, laundry employees were taking 1,900 sets of scrubs per day just to the operating rooms.

Between the many numbers, colors and different odors, Library employees left 2SB feeling appreciative for the work of their coworkers here at WFUBMC.

Monday, September 21, 2009

TRP - Totally Responsible Person

All-day workshop given by Organizational Development at Piedmont Plaza. Presenters were Susan Hathcock, who is a Nurse Educator, and Jennifer Evans, who works for Org Dev. My expectations were fairly low, but I left the day feeling energized and empowered.

The gist of TRP is to stay positive, productive, and effective - no matter what the circumstances! Many, many elements of our day are not under our control, but our reactions are. Taking personal responsibility for our emotions and attitudes can make a huge difference.

#1 is eliminating the victim mentality - they gave us 200+ statements like
  • That's not fair
  • I'm sick and tired of . . .
  • He/she/they should . . .
  • If you can't do your part, I'm not going to do mine
  • It's the system
  • That makes me so mad
  • I'm overwhelmed
that contribute to a victim mentality. The Totally Responsible Person accepts everything that is happening as providing opportunities for learning and growth (OFLAG) - and no one else can be blamed for emotions that arise in you.

Instead of Stimulus -> Reaction
Stimulus -> Choice -> Response

With practice, we can become aware of those times and situations when we enter into the victim mentality. Awareness empowers us to turn a reaction into a response.

Victim mentality thinks the other person is the problem - and the solution. Any thought, statement, or action that indicates an abdication of responsibility for one's emotional state and behavior reveals "victim".

Elements of TRP:
  1. Everything that happens to me provides me with opportunities for learning and growth.
  2. No one else can be blamed for any negativity my emotional nature experiences.
  3. I shall seek no exceptions to this belief, even when I'm not at fault.
This is true for home AND work, and we charted our tendencies in regard to partner, child, friends, in-laws, parents, boss, co-worker, customer, health, weight, traffic, etc.

One aspect that surprised me was associating a "victim mentality" to actions like gathering around the water cooler to complain, criticize, and commiserate. Spreading negativity and discontent incites others to feel victimized! Criticism and gossip are separative, lower morale, wastes time, and usually comes back to you. How to handle another's criticism of an absent third person? Perhaps say, "How can we help that person?"

They recommended conducting a nightly review, noting critical conversations and thoughts. Note whether our approach to people is generally kindly or critical. Do we attempt to see the good in others, or do we focus on their weaknesses and failings? Also note how we criticize ourselves - that internal dialogue can infect our relationships with others as well.

This is boiling down seven hours of workshop to a few key points, but they're especially helpful with the new medctr administration.
"Create an 'organizational culture' in our workplace and home where victim mentality is simply an inappropriate way of behaving - the kind of environment where it is simply seen as unproductive or even old-fashioned. This environment will be supportive of those people who are in the process of becoming more responsible. This environment first has to 'start with me'. We need to set the example for others."
We also talked about "Group Victims", like School vs Hospital, admin vs worker bees, clinical vs non-clinical, techie vs non-techie, men vs women, Christians vs non-, white vs. non-, rural vs city, smoker vs non-, professional vs blue-collar.

The "Ten Commitments for Effective Group Work" can relate to dept, section, workgroup, team, and even family. They are posted outside my cube if you're interested.

The family aspect is especially interesting to me; because often family members (as well as co-workers) will unintentionally encourage victim behaviors by Rescuing and Enabling.

Rescuing: Taking care of others so that they do not have to be responsible for their behavior or emotional state.

Enabling: Encouraging the victim mentality by letting others know their victim behavior and negative emotional state are justified and acceptable.

"It may seem harsh, inflexible, or unloving to be TRP, especially with loved ones. But we must ask ourselves, 'Will my actions further the growth and development of the other person? Will they help build character?' . . . Not rescuing or enabling may be the best, and most compassionate gift we can ever give another person."

Quite a few parents in the group had trouble with this part. Jen and Susan both have kids, and were able to speak from many years of experience!

We started running out of time toward the end, but I particularly learned from the part called
The Gift of Feedback
Feedback is information that we use to make corrections in our thoughts and behavior to become more responsible, effective, productive, creative, and successful - at work, at home, and in life generally. Feedback is essential for learning and growing, and teaches us how we affect the world around us.

When we are being a victim, feedback appears to be criticism. When we are TRP, the same feedback is seen as useful, welcome information. Thus our rejection of - or openness to - feedback reveals our state of mind. Even if the other person has a personal agenda, or is unskilled in giving feedback, we can always search for the "kernel of truth" that exists in the feedback.

Be aware of LANGUAGE - it is a powerful indicator of our emotional state. Particularly the phrase, "makes me" - as in,
  • that makes me angry
  • s/he makes me happy
  • naughty jokes make me feel embarrassed
  • icy roads make me nervous
  • sunshine makes me happy
Ever time you use that phrase ("makes me"), you are saying that you are not responsible for your reactions to the people and events in your life. This diminishes your sense of personal power. No one can make you feel anything. Your emotions are in your power to control.

In working with OTHER people who exhibit the victim mentality, we can help them move toward a "higher" and more reasoned way of thinking. Once we start noticing these behaviors, don't feed them! For example, some people are so accustomed to complaining that it seems like the natural thing to do, but it reinforces the victimhood. When we are in these situations, we can be silent, change the subject, or propose solutions rather than jump into the wallowing.

Know the difference between sympathy and empathy - saying something like, "you poor thing" does not help the person. Don't take on their pain as your pain, that just continues their suffering. Misery loves company. Don't provide it. Changing the subject does wonders. Optimism is contagious! Move to the future, and focus on solutions. Use the word "think" rather than the word "feel" - that can help them move from an emotional state (feeling) to a problem-solving state.

Adversity, or feeling like a victim, is a test of our character - and a way to develop key character traits. Our success in every area of life is directly related to our ability to handle adversity. We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can choose our response. Everything is an opportunity for learning and growth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity

Six Carpenter Library employees enjoyed learning about the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity on Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Dr. Ronny Bell serves as the director of the seven-year-old Center. The Center, one of 11 at WFUSM, promotes research, faculty and student development and outreach. A dream of Dr. Richard Dean, the Center was awarded start-up grants from The Winston-Salem Foundation and Duke Endowment in late 2001-2002 to begin operation.

The Center moved to Watlington Hall in September 2008 where it shares space and some employees with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

While the Center has 14 employees, Dr. Bell explained the relationship that the Center has with WFUBMC committees and departments. The 36 faculty affiliates that participate in Center activities have a main appointment in another department. For example, Dr. Bell was hired to work for the Division of Public Health Sciences/Epidemiology & Prevention. He splits his time between there and the Center. Other faculty of the Center, such as Dr. David Mount who serves as director of community outreach, has an appointment in General Internal Medicine. There is also a Diversity Council at the Medical Center which works closely with the Maya Angelou Center.

The Maya Angelou Center isn't the only type of Center in the state - there are five more. Dr. Bell hopes to eventually create a health equity consortium for these centers to work together. Meanwhile, WFUBMC employees continue to work together to provide health care for all types of populations and cultures.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

WFU Eye Center

Several Coy C. Carpenter Library employees were mock patients late in the afternoon on Thursday, July 2, 2009 when Kirk Huske of the WFU Eye Center walked the tourists through the Department of Ophthalmology. While waiting, patients can view antique eyeglasses, an old eye exam machine, other antique objects and a historical poster in the lobby area.

The Eye Center moved to the sixth floor of the Richard Janeway Clinical Sciences Tower in September 1990. It has five main patient areas for its seven sub-specialities of: retina (including tumors of), cornea, glaucoma, uveitis (infection), neuro-ophthalmology, ocu-plastics and pediatrics. Other features of the Center include an optical shop and the NC Lions Clinical Research Center that includes two examination rooms for the current 14 clinical trials in session. Academic offices, including space for residents, and a small library/conference room are located within the department.

There is also a separate pediatric patient area where Dr. R. Grey Weaver would speak to the parents in the small waiting area, all the while observing the patient. He then would take the patient to the examination room where special lights and sounds would attract the child's attention so Dr. Weaver could examine the eyes.

Ms. Huske shared several of her experiences as an employee of the Eye Center for 39 years. She started as a technician in glaucoma. Her current and official title is Residency Coordinator but she does many other things, including tours. She also shared knowledge about ophthalmology in general, such as the inside back part of an eye is called the fundus. And that ophthalmology is the only speciality in which a doctor can look inside (via the eye) and see the pathology of the body.

While the CCCL employees did not see inside the body, they did see what some Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center coworkers do every day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Center for Biomolecular Imaging

On Thursday, June 11, 2009, five Carpenter Library staff members experienced via computers the Center for Biomolecular Imaging. Computer Programmer Josh Tan shared movies, fly-throughs and his knowledge about imaging computers and scanners for research and patient care.

First, tourists learned about the differences between a CT scan, MRI scan and a PET scan. A CT scan can see the anatomy of a body and the actual scan is fast. A MRI sees soft tissue and takes longer to scan while a PET scan uses radioactivity to see tumors.

Since the Center for Biomolecular Imaging is for research purposes, it has seven scanners for different animals. For example, there is a Micro MRI and PET scanner. The newest technology now allows researchers and clinicians to see 3-D and 4-D images, almost in real time. Picture a loaf of bread as a whole body with each slice of bread representing a cross-sectional/scanned image of the body part/area. The thinner the slice of bread, the easier it is to see a 3-D image.

The neat part of all this is that surgeons can log in to the network and with special computers located in the real operating room, the surgeon can pull up and manipulate the images of the patient on the table to make sure everything is correct. There is no popcorn involved with these movies but there is the ability to see a heart, for example, beating outside of the body on a computer screen. There are many different ways to manipulate the images, as Mr. Tan shared. He electronically flew the tourists through a colon, also known as a virtual colonoscopy which was invented here at WFUBMC.

Mr. Tan also shared how to convert a virtual model into a 3-D real model, known as 3-D printing. Basically the images from a CT scan move through several programs to an elaborate ink jet printer that uses potato starch to print a 3-D model. He said it took six hours for a skull to print because it is "built" on the printer, layer after layer being printed until it is done. When done, the model is dipped in super glue to seal it and then anyone can touch it, feel it, hold it.

Next up is Holographic Medical Imaging which is still being mastered. This involves surgeons pulling up a holographic image within the real operating room and being able to rotate the image with a laser finger pointer.

And if that wasn't too interesting, the CBI has its own version of those famous crash test dummies through a grant from the Department of Transportation for Finite Element Modeling. The CBI staff studies a lot of car crashes with its imaging computers. Virtual car crashes and models, created by scanning humans, are less expensive to create and study than the crash test dummies with sensors and real cars.

And last up, besides seeing a real CT scanner, is a rat movie. Mr. Tan showed how a movie or 3-D model can be used in a PDF including rotating it and changing it from a skin view to bones-only view. Being able to place movies and 3D images into a PDF is helpful to researchers as well as medical students.

And while Wake Forest medical students still practice dissections, they were the first ones in the country starting about four years ago to receive images on a CD of the cadavers they were going to dissect. Mr. Tan said CBI staff scans the cadavers and creates a movie of the images for the students to study and learn the anatomy before going into the anatomy lab.

Wake Forest medical students should feel blessed to have custom-made movies just as some WFUBMC employees were honored to be able to experience the fascinating tasks and equipment used by fellow coworkers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Center for Applied Learning Tour

Eleven Carpenter Library staff members had the privilege of touring the Center for Applied Learning on Thursday, April 30, 2009. Tour guide and coordinator of the Center Serene Mirkis shared interesting information about the Virtual Hospital, Surgical Services Academy and Skills Development Center as well as the Operating Room Simulation Laboratory.

The purpose of all these areas is for different kinds of students and practicing medical personnel to learn and hone their skills, whether it is nursing, therapy or surgical skills.

The Virtual Hospital, located in the Progressive Care building, was developed by Winston-Salem State University and WFUBMC for nursing, occupational and recreational therapy students. There are three life-like, computer-controlled models or simulation “patients” for students to practice basic skills. The male model has interchangeable parts so he can be a female too. He also bleeds and cries. There is a pregnant female model as well as a baby model for students to use. Students are given mock scenarios in a hospital clinic setting as well as a home health setting.

The Surgical Services Academy and Skills Development Center was started about 10 years ago by the Department of Anesthesiology. Currently, medical students, residents, nurses, operating room technicians and practicing physicians use the center to learn or hone their skills. Center organizers hope to expand it to become a National Center for Applied Learning for use by affiliate and regional medical personnel as well as WFUBMC employees.

The Center has a mock emergency department and intensive care area where medical students, nurses and emergency personnel practice on the computer-controlled models which are sensitive to light and touch. The models do not have names that stay with them but they are given names and symptoms during the scenarios. During a crisis scenario, participants give the models names of famous surgeons.

Besides the emergency care area, the Center contains an area for scrubbing skills (process of becoming sterile for surgery) and a mock operating room equipped for the scenario to be recorded or a live feed sent out for people to watch. After the scenario, participants go to a control room to discuss the scenario. Since good communication is the key and often saves a life in the operating room, the mock OR is a safe place to practice and retain skills as well as learn what to do in uncommon situations.

And remembering this tour is what a lot of us will do especially since we got to use the machines made by Karl Storz Inc. to practice depth perception for laparoscopic surgery. We also played around with a sewing board for suturing skin as well as some other “table-top” items, all for honing surgery skills.

As stated above, the goal is to expand this Center into a national one. The Center will also be a part of a vision of a central education building that will house all the education areas of WFUBMC, such as Carpenter Library. And that is why it is not only interesting but important for communication and patient care to know what our fellow coworkers do on a daily basis.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rehabilitation Units at Sticht Center

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Clinical Nurse Specialist Beth Hubbartt shared her knowledge with Carpenter Library staff about the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilition Unit and the Acquired Brain Injury Unit on the third floor of the J. Paul Sticht Center of Aging and Rehabilitation.

We explored the recreation therapy room where Recreational Therapist Peg Cromer explained the different classes and activities for rehabilitation patients, such as playing a board game to exercising in the pool. The group was then off to the gym where there were machines to strengthen muscles, steps to practice walking up and down and even a car for patients to learn to get in and out of with or without assistance.

The group also got a peak at an "apartment" where patients are sent for one night to see if they are ready to go home. Apartment includes a bed, bathroom and kitchen. Patients are given goals to accomplish during their stay. There is also another area that occupational therapy patients utilize to learn daily living activities, such as how to bake cookies and make a bed.

Ms. Hubbartt explained the difference between several types of therapists - recreational therapists work with patients to develop an active lifestyle and learn leisure activities; occupational therapists help with the fine motor skills like eating and reading; physical therapists handle the gross motor skills like walking. Patients, ages 13 and older, must be able to do three hours of therapy per day to be admitted to these units.

The Acquired Brain Injury Unit has six beds and the Neurorehabilitation Unit has 19 beds. A team of therapists, nurses, social workers and rehab physicians consult one another about each patient and the patient's goals.

There are other "people" that help too including Molly the dog that visits weekly and chaplains that offer Sunday services. Patients are also taken on outings, like the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood, on the units' bus. And patients and employees do try to have fun especially at the annual reunion - a 27-year tradition.

As WFUBMC employees, the collaboration of various personnel is impressive especially when the goal is to make the patient as independent as possible as well as improving the quality of life for rehabilitation patients.

Monday, February 23, 2009

WF Regenerative Medicine Institute

Some CCCL staff had the privilege of a 30-minute tour and a few minutes with Dr. Anthony Atala at the Wake Forest Regenerative Medicine Institute on Friday, February 20, 2009.

Dr. Tamer AbouShwareb gave the tour of the "core" research laboratories and then Dr. Atala presented an overview of the Institute's work.

Two of the Institute's greatest accomplishments are the implantation of laboratory grown organs, specifically bladders, into humans and the discovery of a new type of non-controversial stem cell in amniotic fluid and the placenta.

Dr. Atala and his team of five people successfully implanted a laboratory-grown bladder into a human in the mid 1990s and it's amazing to think that the team of five has grown to a team of 160 people.

And it's that team, Dr. Atala said, who performs methodical and careful research on animal cells. The question the team always asks before putting a new therapy into a human is: would you put this in a loved one? If the answer is yes, then the team proceeds and has extended years of follow up with the small number of patients before the new therapy is approved and released to the entire world.

As WFUBMC employees, it is good to know that our "coworkers" downtown are performing life-saving research every day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WFUBMC Burn Center Tour

Seven people from Coy C. Carpenter Library had the pleasure of touring Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Burn Center on Tuesday, January 27, 2009. We have all worked here for awhile but did not know much about the eight-bed Burn Unit and the sixteen-bed/step-down Burn and Plastics Unit.

According to our tour guide, Jim Johnson, PA, WFUBMC's Burn Unit was the first one in the state of North Carolina. It was founded in 1979. We "experienced first-hand," the hydrotherapy room, complete with the ambient heat lights. The hydrotherapy room is the first stop on the floor for the burn patient. The patient is cleaned with regular soap and water and the room is kept very warm, hence the heat lights, to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.

While we learned a lot about burn and skin disease care, we also learned how the Burn Center does business. For example, in the three years that Burn Center Director Dr. James Holmes has been here, he has developed a relationship with hospitals in the western part of NC as well as other states. Now, the Burn Unit accepts patients from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Georgia. Another example is as of February 1, 2009, the Burn Center here will treat all worker's compensation patients from South Carolina. South Carolina does not have a Burn Center so people who get burned on their jobs will be coming to North Carolina for care.

Dr. Holmes and two physician assistants have reached out to the community at large to educate people about how to handle burn patients in the field, i.e. before they are transported to WFUBMC's Emergency Department. There is a local Burn Survivors Support Group that reaches out to the community as well but members spend a lot of their time counseling recent burn patients.

As WFUBMC employees, it is good to know what our "coworkers" do on a daily basis.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ScienceOnline'09: Social Networks for Scientists

The final session of the day I attended was on social networks for scientists. As someone who has not embraced most social networks (exceptions being LibraryThing and LinkedIn), and recalling David's intro of BiomedExperts during a reference meeting last year, I was interested to see if the general audience felt that networks specifically for scientists were beneficial or redundant, and how/if they might be useful to our faculty, students and librarians. Cameron Neylon and Deepak Singh did a great job framing the discussion.
  • Facebook helps people find people
  • scientists need to find people therefore it obviously follows that scientists need Facebook
  • so...people want to build a "Facebook for scientists"
  • quick room survey exposes that some people use science-specific social networks but almost entirely Nature Network
  • two issues in usefulness for any social network: critical mass and features
  • Facebook was built around a pre-existing community (Harvard undergrads) but people tend to forget
  • Twitter is standout network that launched on the world without a pre-existing community
  • myExperiment paid people to put stuff on site
  • FriendFeed is relevant for filtering; if people like/comment that item keeps coming to top
  • also useful for finding people with expertise
  • FriendFeed pulls in *everything* friends do online, so recipe for disaster: blog, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Twitter, etc.
  • Nature Network more like a group of scientists socializing than a social network for scientists
  • fatal flaws I: social networks rely on network effects; no members means no network; if I arrive and no one else is there why come back?; must provide up front value - solve a problem I know I have
  • only a few of the current offerings do this
  • social networks have histories going back to usenet days
  • serendipitous discovery on Google extremely useful
  • do we need social networks for scientists or just use existing such as LinkedIn?
  • CiteULike, Connotea do something better for scientists than Delicious
  • several people use FriendFeed to find others' CiteULike
  • branding as MySpace-like or Facebook-like for scientists backfired
  • may not need to know you have a problem but still needs to solve; barrier for most people is need to do something
  • fatal flaws II: scientists not very social; looking for solutions, not people; data finds data, people find people
  • five guidelines for online services:
    1. tool must solve problem and solution must fit what you're doing
    2. tool must outperform existing tools
    3. must be near 100% reliability
    4. provide at least one killer feature
    5. prepopulate
  • need to be able to take data out when you want to leave or network shuts down
  • site also can't claim copyright on your data/input/contributions
  • BiomedExperts did a good job of prepopulating using existing connections via literature citations
  • Ravelry for knitters, crocheters
  • very much like science in that people connect via materials (yarns) and how they are used
  • not necessarily connecting around people, but yarns, patterns, etc.
  • large number of people, small number of items and agreed upon way of talking about - but this is not true for science/scientists

ScienceOnline'09: Anonymity, Pseudonymity

Abel Pharmboy and PalMD moderated this session, which touched upon the pros and cons of anonymous or pseudonymous blogging, including the added challenges faced by female bloggers. Great group discussion on various angles of anonymous/pseudonymous blogging, including the ability to remain anonymous/pseudonymous, the reasons various people choose to blog openly or not, and how to balance visible and less visible online selves.
  • Abel Pharmboy started blogging when working for a non-profit research organization and would've jumped through too many hoops to blog under real name
  • pseudonym acknowledges his field (pharmacology) and one of his field's pioneers (John J. Abel)
  • when going back to academe Abel was able to "come out" as himself
  • after his name was revealed, Abel asked readers if they'd trust him more if he wrote under his real name; majority said no, they didn't care
  • PalMD's pseudonym consists of his initials and his career
  • it's an illusion that writing anonymously/pseudonymously allows more freedom
  • anonymity will often get blown, or at the least people with figure out who they *think* you are
  • if using anonymity as a level of protection in medical blogging to protect patients, think through implications of cover being blown because it hits patient privacy too
  • female bloggers have an added issue of being cyberstalked
  • protection of anonymity/pseudonymity also extends to family
  • avoiding Google is desire for some to blog anonymously/pseudonymously
  • desire to be evaluated on merit of CV and person, not blogging
  • need for support for personal life [or personal aspect of professional life]
  • people get more "press" when writing letter to editor than on blog, but concept of owning one's opinions in these mediums different
  • what about bloggers' First Amendment rights? First Amendment doesn't protect what others say on your blog
  • is masking of identity intrinsically antithetical to society?
  • times when pseudonymity can come back to bite you: when story hits wider audience, given less credence/legitimacy/credibility
  • when part of an inward-looking network, sense of peer-review forms and will get blasted, regardless of persona so no protection there
  • when blogging under real name people feel they know you even though you only share one side of yourself
  • if trying to put genie back in the bottle (either after outing or adopting pseudonym after blogging under real name), go over to a different blog and try to write in a different voice; use UK spellings/grammar if in US and vice versa; readers are smart and will put 2+2 together to continue following you
  • would think if Nature supports blogging then researchers would embrace but they don't
  • if you want to maintain a pseudonymous blog alongside real name blog best if subjects don't overlap
  • blogging pseudonymously allows for greater integration of different parts of life for some
  • can blog pseudonymously but not anonymously to allow some to have different persona than in real life
  • shouldn't blog pseudonymously to attack people
  • threat and fear of outings can put damper on community and willingness to share even more than actual outing incidents

ScienceOnline'09: Web and the History of Science

My one fun-just-for-me-with-little-direct-applicability-to-my-job session of the day was the history of science on the web session that immediately followed a yummy lunch from Saladelia Cafe. (Wait, I should clarify: all the sessions were fun, but most I chose because there was a strong professional correlation; this one was just for the fun!) Moderated by GG, Brian Switek and Scicurious, this session appealed to me, someone who loves history and is fascinated by science (even when she doesn't always understand it), and got me thinking that this might be an angle to plug with grad students who express interest in blogging but don't know where to start...hey, look at that, potential job applicability!
  • The Giant's Shoulders: monthly blog carnival about classic science papers
  • so...why is the history of science important?
  • interesting to dig up "lost" bits of science history
  • one of the earliest researchers on cocaine was Freud; first to propose drug replacement therapy (although is plans wouldn't have worked...); many researchers in this field don't know this
  • as some fields get older/more involved, forget people who started it all because core facts become gospel so well known it is no longer necessary to cite
  • people cite review rather than citing original article
  • good way to show how science actually works and doesn't work
  • fun way of showing "humanity" of scientists
  • great way for scientists to develop research/writing skills
  • rewriting of history to mythologize history and bring into current aspect of field to frame paper occurs
  • scientists in 1700s and 1800s had day jobs and did science in their basements because it was cool; granted, they were often independently wealthy...
  • doing/explaining/highlighting history of science helps people understand modern science; however there is a risk of showing science as something that is constantly marching forward to the truth
  • get mistaken impression that science publications have to be complete packages
  • JSTOR is a good source for historical papers
  • public really involved in science when it was changing a lot (1870s-1930s) [need to reclaim!]
  • lots of pop sci books coming out are focused on history of science
  • by telling people how science is weird can also explain how it works
  • reporters are reading blogs and blog stories do get picked up by traditional media
  • if beginning blogger, will help build your reputation if you blog about the history of your niche
  • older papers are going into PubMed, PMC because being republished
  • scientists ideally writing for clarity which helps when translating

ScienceOnline'09: Semantic Web

The last session before lunch happened to be the one where I felt the most overwhelmed by the breadth of information that I simply cannot seem to grasp in any cogent fashion: John Wilbanks's session on the semantic web in science. I've heard and read about the semantic web, but have yet to be able to fully understand what it might look like. Although I still have lots of questions, this session thankfully illuminated some of the goals/aims of the semantic web. You can view the slides here. As with all my posts, but especially this one, any incoherency is my fault alone...
  • open innovation (as understood under traditional collaboration model) aimed to expand the capacity of the external market, and inflows and outflows of knowledge, to aid internal knowledge/advantage
  • Joy's law: the smartest people work elsewhere
  • user innovation: only people who have problems can solve problems
  • new innovation/collaboration enables people to design their own shoes, t-shirts, etc., but doesn't exist for science
  • why not?: intellectual property rights - scientists don't share well; funding models; inertia; incentive structures; no web for data
  • Google search won't give you genes but papers about genes
  • the "semantic web" isn't great but all we can come up with
  • computers need to understand relationship between websites
  • coffee ontology explains relationship between aspects of coffee needs/uses/properties
  • semantic web is lots of specifications: RDF at heart, GRDDL, RDFa, OWL, SPARQL
  • need domain name system for concepts; lack has been reason for failure
  • use web to integrate
  • RDF: Resource Description Framework
  • every arc has direction
  • "literals": facts, instances about things
  • "reification": categories
  • RDF simply and ugly; meant for machines not humans
  • GRDDL gleans resource dialects out of existing
  • RDFa: RDF in HTML
  • OWL: Web Ontology Language; structured relationships
  • essentially wants to query 1000 web pages as 1 same way 1000 papers are queried as 1
  • SPARQL is SQL for semantic web
  • RDF allows data [to be] remixable that is contextually accurate
  • is it legal? have to reconstruct public domain for licensing angle
  • CC Zero license (CC0) allows contractual reconstruction on public domain in database licenses
  • does conflict with protection instinct; if you don't want your data remixed don't put under RDF
  • just because you put genome data online and claim copyright doesn't mean you have it because facts cannot be copyrighted (at least in US)
  • database law has been killed in US several times
  • doesn't scale across science: some (e.g., earth science) cool with sharing, but others (e.g., biology) would rather share toothbrush than data
  • web isn't going to do this for us
  • get practice answers out of existing databases and resources
  • queries are interface to this [semantic web] world
  • lot of this isn't baked yet
  • got to have problem worth solving to use this; wouldn't use this for your calendar
  • trademark is the only way to protect; if you don't like, fork but don't infringe trademark by using name
  • Swoogle is a semantic web search tool
  • Open Biomedical Ontologies is a compilation of ontologies used for semantic web
  • has always been about machine interoperability on data

ScienceOnline'09: Video in Scientific Research

In the second session I attended Saturday, Moshe Pritsker of JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) and Apryl Bailey of SciVee talked about two options for publishing research videos: journal-like and YouTube-like.
  • why publish research videos? to demonstrate techniques that aren't easily explained
  • essentially pits a scientific article description against a demonstration
  • text does NOT provide adequate description of biological experiments; solution is to visualize description of experimental methods
  • similar to cooking: helps if someone shows you either in real-life or TV show
  • JoVE is a video journal; indexed in PubMed/MEDLINE
  • focuses on three key issues: incentives, tools, format
  • grants and publications are two things scientists care about, so JoVE is a video journal not a video database
  • has an editorial board
  • operates a distributed network of video production to help those who lack the necessary tools [none in NC, closest in GA]
  • videos are divided by chapters
  • although not immediately available on site, embedded code for flash videos available upon request for including in papers
  • brings video and text together
  • are scientists taught not to speak in jargon? as publication intended for other experts in field, jargon may not be a problem, as the video visualizes the jargon; also pointed out that verbal description of experiment methodology often different than written description
  • video production network is competitive advantage for JoVE
  • 70,000 visitors/month; 200,000 downloads; 80% scientific/academic visitors
  • SciVee is a science media repository: a science video website that can be synchronized with other media
  • pubcast = peer-reviewed paper + video
  • people more quickly grasp paper topic
  • offers profiles and communities so people can connect on SciVee; lots of room for growth in this area
  • people wanted to upload videos not connected to papers, so SciVee began accepting
  • postercasts document transient poster session information; gets research to a larger audience
  • from postercasts people developed slidecasts
  • papercasts is a new format about to be rolled out: videos and papers not published in peer-reviewed journals
  • JoVE charges a $1000 production fee if they do the video through network, but if a researcher creates a video there is no charge to publish in JoVE
  • SciVee's poster presentation feature very helpful
  • biology and medicine are the most sensitive fields to visual description but could be expanded to chemistry, applied physics, ecology, etc.
  • SciVee uses share revenue model with conferences by agreeing to host posters
  • in addition to charging for video production, JoVE also sells advertising, had European investments
  • JoVe is for-profit; SciVee is moving from non-profit to for-profit
  • SciVee tries to negotiate OA when working with others not amenable to OA
  • SciVee's software is proprietary, but might eventually move toward open source
  • viewers have to be cognizant of commercial vs. educational video
  • SciVee can be embedded but not duplicated on own website or blog
  • can't say that much in script; bulk of info in written part; layperson wouldn't understand because need to have basic knowledge; benefit to simplifying so mass scientific audience can understand, but not necessarily mass general audience
  • talking through methods while demonstrating uses different language than writing methods
  • might be best to have different language in video than accompanying text so people can view/assess from two different angles
  • just as likely to find appeal among older scientists who have tenure because more willing to experiment than among younger scientists who are more techno hip
  • institutions would be nervous about videos with animals being posted despite videos being peer-reviewed for proper handling; issues include safety for researchers when face is shown; regular publishing at least only gives name

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ScienceOnline'09: Open Access Publishing

After a fantastic Friday afternoon behind-the-scenes tour of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh, ScienceOnline'09 kicked off to a great start Saturday morning with a session on the present and future state of Open Access (OA) publishing, led by Bill Hooker and Bjoern Brembs. Although I (obviously) didn't live blog this year's conference, I took copious notes and will share them as is (well, with erroneous spellings corrected...).

  • Peter Suber gave up tenure to promote OA full-time; defines OA literature as "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions"
  • online makes OA possible
  • fewer than half of OA journals charge fees but because of BMC and PLoS, that is the model most people know
  • OA archives can be searched as one virtual archive using OAIster
  • ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repositories) is a list of the green road to OA; place to go to find repository to put your work in
  • benefits [of repositories? OA? notes unclear - sorry]: maximizes research efficiency; assessment, monitoring & management; scalability; return on (public) investment
  • OA citation advantage is a little controversial, but evidence is mounting
  • part of the overlooked argument is scalability: untapped potential of text mining
  • iHOP (Information Hyperlinked Over Proteins): pulls sentences out of literature and builds long paragraph of disconnected statements to reorder into brief summary of field; only has PubMed abstracts to mine, not full text
  • we have an overwhelming amount of information available
  • you can't read 35,000+ papers or even 3800+ reviews but your computer can; it is possible for it to pull out info and aggregate
  • GenBank is a great example of what public, open data can do; there now exists a community-wide expectation of openness around gene sequencing
  • librarian salaries are keeping pace with CPI but not journal prices
  • median annual serials expenditures in 2006: $3m-$12m
  • earliest name for OA was Free Online Scholarship
  • Bjoern couldn't get access to his own article because his institution's library didn't subscribe to the journal
  • food for thought: if overnight the journal publishing industry collapsed, how would you restructure? if you were king for the day, how would you redo the system?
  • if the system is faulty, why are so many TA journals (traditional, subscription-based) being created by existing publishers? PROFIT
  • societies are also proliferating TA journals; want to serve members, but TA journals rob members of work and money; must acknowledge that while some membership dues include journal subscription, libraries are still required to purchase
  • journal quality (i.e., impact factor) proxy for article quality simply does not work [I was amazed at how many people in the room did not seem to realize this; quite worrisome]
  • two problems researchers face: 1) how to get research out and used?, and 2) how to assess quality of research?
  • right now we are trying to do this together, but ideally in the future needs to be separate
  • everybody wants to publish and everybody has to find a place to publish even when it's bad because it is necessary to placate university/institutional demands
  • PLoS Biology was never designed to make money but to promote OA and prove that OA journals can be competitive; PLoS One is beginning to make money and subsidizes the other PLoS titles; standard publishing also relies on making money on some "work horse" journals to subsidize the costs of others
  • if Einstein can be wrong about quantum physics, we can certainly be wrong in our assessment of individual papers
  • people want to read their fields' top-level publications not others
  • scholarly enterprise of science doesn't make profit; someone else - often publishers - make profit
  • could pay peer-reviewers and archive publications in own libraries' archives/repositories, which makes them accessible to all
  • majority of Nobel-winning work rejected from top-tier journals (anecdotal)
  • when cost comparisons are made, which is the most efficient way to subsidize publishing: libraries paying subscriptions, or scientists paying OA costs...?
  • if a researcher has an annual grant of $250,000, likely not going to balk at paying $1600 to publish in BMC because his/her research would then be open and accessible
  • if there is a wash between subscription costs vs. OA charges, then why not shift to OA?
  • would shift to OA only force more grant-subsidized research and marginalize non-grant funded researchers? not necessarily because fees may be waived
  • what happens if OA publications go under; how is content accessed?; issue of OA publication going under no different than any other e-journal going under, as libraries don't own electronic content anyway; libraries have plans in place to prevent complete loss of access: LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, Portico; many OA journals/articles also archived in PubMed Central and other repositories