Google Scholar: Information for all

“Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.”

This is a really important and exciting development from Google. And it works! Here's something of mine from the archives. There are links from articles in Google Scholar search results to electronic copies in online journals. In terms of access to the published literature, this is potentially a great service to the public, which is important because so much of basic research is publicly funded. I say potentially a great service becuase not everyone will have access to all of the electronic journals and sources that Google searches. For accessible content use the Public Library of Science, a more established service committed to making the scientific and medical literature freely available to the public.

In related news, the UK National Health Service announced the lauch of the National Library for Health.

“The National Library for Health is the next natural step in the development of NHS library services. By developing an integrated and federated service, the National Library for Health will enable us to meet the various challenges of delivering knowledge and information services in the 21st Century.”

The Programme Director is Ben Toth who maintains a weblog on digital library topics.

The devil is always in the detail

County by County US Presidential Election Results 2004 by Robert J. VanderbeiRobert J. Vanderbei has done a really nice piece of work to visualize the US election results county by county rather than state by state. Robert's map shows that America is not as geographically polarized in its support for Kerry or Bush as the state by state results (or indeed the media reports) would have us belive. There clearly are strong geographic preferences for Republican or Democratic politics but isn't not as black or white, or indeed red or blue, as appears at first. In order to understand the true picture you have to look closer to see sufficient detail. The county by country election results are available via the USA Today election results web site if you want to check or look up the results for an individual county.

Lilia Effimova has also spotted this map and has written a typically thoughtful piece on the dangers of binary thinking as a result of over generalization.

You can only see the picture clearly when you have sufficient detail

The people have spoken

So, after one of the biggest turn-outs in US election history, the majority of voting Americans want George W Bush to be their president for 4 more years. In fact more people wanted him to be president this time than last. Sure, a lot of people are unhappy about that, but you can't argue with democracy, and the people have spoken. If you are fortunate to live in a country where every citizen has the right to vote, remembering many people in the world aren't quite so fortunate, and where every vote is worth the same as the next, then sometimes it's hard to accept when not everyone in your country feels the same as you if your guy doesn't win but theirs does. At least you were able to cast your vote.