Category Archives: How To

Roundup: On Accessible & Inclusive Conferences & Meetings

Accessible? Twist handle, then pull

I just returned from the annual meeting for the Medical Library Association, where multiple discussions arose around what would it look like to expand what is done to make the conference both accessible and inclusive. [Yes, the image at the head of this post is an actual photo from the actual meeting.] Just a couple weeks before that I was privileged to attend “Cripping” the Comic Con 2019 which was, by FAR, a truly exemplary model for how to create an inclusive event. (I’m hoping to write a second post about what blew my mind so much about CripCon!) Pretty much the same topic also arose in one of my Facebook groups, Teaching Disability Studies, where several of the resources mentioned here where shared.

Since my organization (UofM) has done some work in creating resources around this, and since I was on the original committee that created our resource, I volunteered to share that resource with MLA and put together a collection of selected resources related to this topic. The resources collected here are organized alphabetically within section (resources, readings) by either the author or providing organization. Organizations represented in the post include:
– ABA (American Bar Association)
– ACM SIGACCESS
– ADA National Network
– ASAN (Autism Self Advocacy Network)
– New York State
– Ohio State University
– Syracuse University
– University of Arizona
– University of British Columbia
– University of Michigan
– Vera Institute of Justice

RESOURCES

ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. Planning Accessible Meetings and Events, a Toolkit https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/mental_physical_disability/Accessible_Meetings_Toolkit.authcheckdam.pdf

You want to know what the lawyers think about what you should do? Well, start here. This 22 page PDF provides a number of thoughtful strategies to promote accessibility and inclusion in events, from working with attendees and presenters in an interactive way to plan the best possible event to post-event surveys designed to elicit information on accessibility improvements needed for future events. I’ve been working in disability spaces and communities most of my life, and they had suggestions that were new to me. I have some more work to do. This one is a must read.

ACM SIGACCESS. Accessible Conference Guide. https://www.sigaccess.org/welcome-to-sigaccess/resources/accessible-conference-guide/

It’s a bit amazing to me how each of these guides has something wonderful and necessary that I missed seeing or which wasn’t included in the other guides. This one includes discussions around making events safe for people with migraines, having drinking straws available, and where can a service dog relieve themselves with causing problems for the event. They point out that simply asking for a sign language translator doesn’t tell you which version of sign language the viewer needs, since there are regional and country variations which can be quite significant. They include example draft language for eliciting accommodation requests from attendees, registration, formatting your promotion material PDFs accessibly, and having a triage plan in case problems arise. This document is updated regularly, and this newest version was just updated a few weeks ago (April 2019). Note that they also have an Accessible Writing Guide and an Accessible Presentation Guide. Must read.

ADA National Network. A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People With Disabilities. https://adata.org/publication/temporary-events-guide

Okay, this thing has chapters. I mean, CHAPTERS. That tells you something. In some ways, it’s almost too detailed. However, it also focuses almost exclusively on physical factors (venue, parking, toilets) and has very little on the interaction or experience. While this is highly detailed, the intended audience seems to be focused on government or community event planners, and not for professional events or conferences. This is more of a basic introduction to what is involved, and is intended for broad audiences. Also available as a 61 page PDF and a 119 page large print PDF.

ASAN: Planning Accessible and Inclusive Organizing Trainings: Strategies for Decreasing Barriers to Participation for People with I/DD https://autisticadvocacy.org/resources/accessibility/ PDF: https://autisticadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/White-Paper-Planning-Accessible-and-Inclusive-Organizing-Trainings.pdf

While several of the other resources listed here focus primarily on physical barriers to inclusion, this document is absolutely essential for those with sensory integration concerns or learning disabilities. It explains and describes the impacts of such factors as loud or unpredictable noise, motion, and other stimuli; unpredictable events; abstract or overly-complex language; speaking spontaneously (or putting people in situations where they are expected to improvise their reactions); body language; touch; and much more. It includes information on scheduling that describes the need for breaks, use of plain language content, color communication badges, and the risks to the audience of some popular presentation engagement strategies. This is the only of the resources listed here to richly describe the role of support persons in events. I doubt it would be possible to plan an inclusive event sensitive to any of these issues without, at a minimum, reading a document like this one, or being close to someone who shares these issues and concerns. A must read.

New York State, Department of Health: People First: How To Plan Events Everyone Can Attend https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/0956/

This is a lovely document which includes both high level thinking around accessible events as well as fairly detailed specifics. This is one of few of these types of resources that spends time on the importance of developing a formal policy with specifications for events, and has suggestions for approaching the development of a policy if your organization lacks one. It includes nitty-gritty suggestions, such as “Plan for 30% more meeting space when 10% or more of the participants will use mobility aids,” having ramps to the stages, and how to look for tripping hazards. Absolutely a must read. Also available as a 13-page PDF.

Ohio State University: Composing Access, An invitation to creating accessible events https://u.osu.edu/composingaccess/

Includes information on making accessible presentations, including live-streaming and handouts (when, why, and how), as well as the expected accessibility thoughts and practices for conference organizers. Includes resources; ways to encourage attendees to act as advocates for accessibility and inclusion; descriptions and videos for creative practices like interaction badges, quiet rooms, “crip time,” and more.

Syracuse University: A Guide to Planning Inclusive Events, Seminars, and Activities at Syracuse University http://sudcc.syr.edu/resources/event-guide.html

Available only as a 27 page accessible PDF. This exceptionally detailed resource is far too rich a resource to do justice to in a brief description. Syracuse is the home of Cripping the Comic Con, and it is clear that they have really put considerable time and thought into not only conceptualizing accessible events, but putting this into practice, seeking feedback, and learning from experience. It has four appendices, of which the most essential, to my mind, is Diane Wiener’s example introduction in Appendix B. In addition to the usual content (planning, venue, promotion, and presentation) this guide includes prudent practices for inclusive use of language, use of images and media, the role of environment (fragrance, sound/noise, lights, color), and much more. This is my own preferred go-to guide for starting with this. I guess that means I should mark it a must read, too.

University of Arizona: A Guide to Planning Accessible and Inclusive Events https://drc.arizona.edu/planning-events/guide-planning-accessible-and-inclusive-events

A short example of how to write a resource like this for a campus community. Includes a brief but helpful section on how to train event support staff.

University of British Columbia: Checklist for Accessible Event Planning https://equity.ok.ubc.ca/resources/checklist-for-accessible-event-planning/

Exactly what it says — a collection of terse reminders of what should be remembered. Includes roughly 60 entries in 7 categories (planning, marketing, transportation, space, programming, catering, final). Available as a 9 page PDF download.

University of Michigan: Ten Tips for Inclusive Meetings https://hr.umich.edu/working-u-m/workplace-improvement/office-institutional-equity/americans-disabilities-act-information/ten-tips-inclusive-meetings

This information in this resource is presented in a layered fashion for ease of access, action, and remembering, similar to the UBC checklist. The ten tips are very short, focusing on major areas to consider, but include links to richer information for those willing to explore more deeply. The design stresses retention and adoption of the concepts by making them easy to access and simple to remember. Main areas included are scheduling, accessible presentations, promotion, restrooms, food and drink, personal assistance, offsite participation, representation, transportation and navigation, and options for help for event planning and management.

Vera Institute for Justice: Designing Accessible Events for People with Disabilities and Deaf Individuals https://www.vera.org/publications/designing-accessible-events-for-people-with-disabilities-and-deaf-individuals

This isn’t a guide or a checklist. This is a toolkit, and boy, does it have a lot of different tools. They have several different tip sheets focusing on special aspects of meetings and events, from registration to budgeting, and including venues and how the meeting itself is handled. They even have a tip sheet for working with Sign Language Interpreters, and how to develop successful contracts with hotel management (which sounds worth its weight in gold). These aren’t one page tip sheets, though. The tip sheet for designing accessible registration is 7 page long. That’s a lot of tips. These are so well done that countless other disability organizations host copies on their own websites and recommend them for their own audiences and clients. These are another must read.

Additional resources & examples

ACS-ALA, Accessibility and Libraries, October 4, 2017. Rough edited CART copy (Webinar transcript). https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JIVc5-QcvBb74AitQXrnFfHReYk6nnKez3gR33llHvU/edit

ALA Annual: Accessibility https://2019.alaannual.org/general-information/accessibility

Inclusion BC: How-to Make Your Event More Inclusive https://inclusionbc.org/our-resources/how-to-make-your-event-more-inclusive-2/ PDF: https://inclusionbc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Makeyoureventinclusive.pdf

NCCSD Clearinghouse and Resource Library: Inclusive Event Planning https://www.nccsdclearinghouse.org/inclusive-event-planning.html

WorldCon 76: https://www.worldcon76.org/member-services/accessibility

TO READ

This is a twitter thread from a few weeks back that “won Twitter,” as in it went viral, with 144 replies, 294 Retweets, and 1,562 Likes. It began with Alex Haagaard’s mention of their own accommodation requests at conferences, and resulted in a highly educational thread of accommodations people need or wish they could request at conferences. I recommend reading this thread for any conference planners or organizers.

MORE

“If part of what we train our students to do is enter into scholarly conversations, how we go about that conversation in our own professional settings matters.”
Accessibility at ASECS and Beyond: A Guest Post by Dr. Jason Farr and Dr. Travis Chi Wing Lau https://asecsgradcaucus.wordpress.com/2019/02/21/accessibility-at-asecs-and-beyond-a-guest-post-by-dr-jason-farr-and-dr-travis-chi-wing-lau/
Includes: “Toward a More Accessible Conference Presentation” https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xzGyfVlMRUwZMjuZ6mef87OXCIfN3uiW/view

“Use the microphone: this gets repeated dozens of times on Twitter every conference for at least the last five years. I guess I’ll just say: yes, abled people, using a microphone indicates that you are considerate of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing folks, and suggesting that others do is beneficial to the audience.”
S. Bryce Kozla. Accessibility and Conference Presentations https://brycekozlablog.blogspot.com/2018/01/accessibility-and-conference.html

“But I believe that losing my hearing was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. You see, I get to experience the world in a unique way. And I believe that these unique experiences that people with disabilities have is what’s going to help us make and design a better world for everyone — both for people with and without disabilities. … I stumbled upon a solution that I believe may be an even more powerful tool to solve some of the world’s greatest problems, disability or not. And that tool is called design thinking.”
When we design for disability, we all benefit | Elise Roy https://www.ted.com/talks/elise_roy_when_we_design_for_disability_we_all_benefit?language=en

Yes? Or No? Or HOW? Catching a Predator at Birth (Maybe)

Originally posted at the Krafty Librarian blog.


Catching a Predator at Birth

I almost called this post: “Create attention for your article; write a layman’s summary,” which was the subject line from the e-mail we are discussing locally in trying to decide if it is a predatory publisher or not. (Short version of what we did for those who don’t have time to read the whole story: Identity, Authority, Credibility, Language, Editing, Timing, Licensing, Accessibility, Openness, Sources, Resources. Basically, defining a chain of trust.) I’ve blogged here before about the idea of layman’s summaries, a.k.a. plain language abstracts. They have a great tagline. It’s a great idea. My first reaction was, “How can we help?” Obviously, I think the idea is awesome, and I’ve thought so for a very long time, many years. I am far from the only person to think so. Just take a quick look at these few selected quotes.

DC Girasek: Would society pay more attention to injuries if the injury control community paid more attention to risk communication science?
“We also need to call attention to the injuries that continue to take lives, despite the fact that solid solutions for them have been published in our scientific journals. We need research on translating study findings into public action. Epidemiology and engineering remain central to the field of injury control. We must look to the social and behavioral sciences, however, if we hope to overcome the political and cognitive barriers that impede our advancement.”

Alan Betts: A Proposal for Communicating Science
“Given that the future of the Earth depends on the public have a clearer understanding of Earth science, it seems to me there is something unethical in our insular behavior as scientists.”

Jason Samenow: Should technical science journals have plain language translation?
“Some scientists might resist the onus of having to write a lay-person friendly version of their articles. However, I agree with Betts, it’s well past time they do so”

Chris Buddle: Science outreach: plain-language summaries for all research papers
“1) Scientists do really interesting things.
2) Scientists have a responsibility to disseminate their results.
3) Scientists do not publish in an accessible format.
This is a really, really big problem.”

Chris Buddle: A guide for writing plain language summaries of research papers
“A plain language summary is different because it focuses more broadly, is without jargon, and aims to provide a clear picture about ‘why’ the research was done in additional to ‘how’ the work was done, and the main findings.”

Lauren M. Kuehne and Julian D. Olden: Opinion: Lay summaries needed to enhance science communication. PNAS 112(12):3585. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500882112
“But rather than an unrewarding burden, scientists (and journal publishers) should consider widespread adoption of lay summaries—accompanying online publications and made publicly available with traditional abstracts—as a way to increase the visibility, impact, and transparency of scientific research. This is a particularly important undertaking given the changing science media landscape.”

This is seen as SUCH an important idea that multiple grants were provided to create a tool to assist scientists in doing this well!

Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR): Plain Language Summary Tool (PLST)

You can find more with this Google Search: (science OR research) (attention OR “plain language” OR “clear language” OR layman OR journalist) (summary OR abstract)

Imagine my excitement when a colleague (many thanks to Kate MacDougall-Saylor) alerted me to a new online publication specifically for this purpose! How PERFECT for Health Literacy Month! A faculty member had asked her if it was a legitimate enterprise. So we looked at the email she’d received, and at the web site.

Dear Dr. XYZ,

We are interested to publish the layman’s summary of your research article: ‘ABC ABC ABC.’ on our website.

The new project ‘Atlas of Science‘ started from 1st October 2015. It is made by scientists for scientists and the aim of the project will be publishing layman’s abstracts of research articles to highlight research to a broader audience.
Scientific articles are often difficult to fathom for journalists, due to the scientific jargon.
Although journalists like to assess the news value quickly, that is by no means simple with most research articles. Writing a short, understandable layman’s summary is a good means to reach this goal.

This makes sense, has a good message, and is accurate about the potential impact so far, but the English doesn’t read as having been written or edited by a native speaker of English, and the formatting is inconsistent. It doesn’t look as if a professional editor did a final review before promoting to the world. Warning Sign #1.

The name of the web site (Atlas of Science) is identical to the highly regarded book from MIT Press and authored by Katy Börner of the Indiana University Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center. At first, I thought perhaps they were connected, but quickly realized this was a separate group, simply using the same name. Warning Sign #2.

Most of the rest of the message came directly from the “For Authors” page on the web site (Why, What, Use), except for the instructions.

Submit
∙ Send your summary to info@atlasofscience.org, not later than ##/#/2015.

What do we do with your layman’s summary?
∙ We check the text, and in consultation with you we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
∙ Your text will be available on the Atlas of Science website, www.atlasofscience.org .
We will actively promote this site to the press.

Please, let us know if you are interested and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question (simply reply to this email).

This was less worrisome, except … the phrase “not later than” (combined with a date of just over a week to respond) seems to be pressuring the faculty member to respond quickly, without thinking it through carefully, and without time to actually create a well-done plain language summary. Warning Sign #3.

Speaking of a well-done plain language summary, do they explain how to do what they say they want? We checked on the web site. Not really. They tell you what they want, but not how to do it, and they don’t point people to any resources to help them understand what a plain language summary is, what this means, or how to do it. They define no standards, set no guidelines, make only the barest and simplest recommendations (such as word count — 600 words with 2 figures), and do not even mention appropriate reading level. Warning Sign #4.

Does the posted content on the site actually appear to match the stated goals of the site? Not remotely. The pieces posted don’t even match the minimal guidelines they stated in their own criteria. I tested a few of the newest posts. The titles alone (“Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells”, “Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider”, “Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession”, tell you these are not plain language, but just to be fair and unbiased, I ran them through a Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Tool, which is only one of several tools and resources available for assessing readability.

Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells
The SMOG index: 20.1
Total words: 766
Total number of polysyllabic words: 180
Total number of sentences: 41

Over 150 words more than the defined limit for the abstract (Warning Sign #5), and written for an audience with a reading level matching those with multiple graduate degrees. The SMOG Index, you see, displays the reading level by number of years of education. 12 is a high school diploma, 16 is a college degree, 18 is a masters, and 20 is well into PhD territory. The average reading level for adults in the United States is roughly 8th grade, meaning that a really well done plain language summary would be written to a SMOG level of 8, at most 12. 20 is a long ways from 12.

Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider
The SMOG index: 16.2
Total words: 461
Total number of polysyllabic words: 70
Total number of sentences: 35

Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession
The SMOG index: 18.7
Total words: 573
Total number of polysyllabic words: 79
Total number of sentences: 23

Save your pancreas from diabetes! Your beta cell reserve is critical for prevention and treatment of diabetes.”
The SMOG index: 19.6
Total words: 455
Total number of polysyllabic words: 100
Total number of sentences: 25

It’s easy to see that most of the authors take the word count seriously, and that some of them genuinely tried to reduce the reading level and had an idea of where to start with this. None of them came anywhere close to an 8th grade reading level, and none of them were below college graduate reading level. Warning Sign #6. The writing in the abstracts was highly variable, some included grammatical errors, and there was no sign of editorial oversight. Warning Sign #7.

You get the idea of how the checking is being done. I don’t want to walk you through the excruciating details for every piece, but here are a few more criteria, and then ending with a surprise reveal.

“About Us”: Can’t tell who they are, either individuals or institution. Improper grammar & punctuation. No contact information. Contact form has email address hidden. Warning Signs 8, 9, 10.

Content Sources: Most links are to RSS feeds from major science news services, not unique or locally produced content. For the unique content, authorship is unclear (is author of the plain language abstract the same as the author of the original article?), buried deep in the page, no editor mentioned, and no contact information given for the presumed authors. The links for the original articles go back to PUBMED, not to the original publisher, and nont of them give the DOI number for the articles. Warning Signs 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

Licensing: For a project of this sort to have the impact it is supposed to on journalists and the public, it would need to have a Creative Commons licensing structure, presumably with attribution. Instead it has “copyright, all rights reserved,” but gives no information on how to get permission to use the content. It appears that the intellectual property rights are held by the website, not by the actual authors. This is (in my opinion) terrible. Warning Signs 16, 17, 18.

Accessibility: Problems using the site on my phone. Tested desktop view, and there are a number of fatal errors, missing ALT tags, empty links, duplicated links, etc. Sloppy, sloppy coding. Nobody’s perfect, but MEDLINEplus has zero fatal errors, just for comparison. If this is from a reputable organization, I’d expect better. Warning Signs 19, 20, 21.

Now, the big surprise! While I was digging around online, I found some of the content, almost verbatim, from an authoritative site! Virtually all of the “For Authors” page is from the Technishe Universiteit, Eindhoven (TU/e). Evidently, they have or had a requirement for graduate students to write a plain language summary of their research prior to graduation. Brilliant concept! The submitted content was reviewed, edited, and selected for possible inclusion in their university research magazine, Cursor. They also had a campus website to host the content. The link for this was broken when I checked today, but the Wayback Machine has several examples over the past several years, including just a few months ago.

The big question now is whether this project is taking the Technische Universiteit model and making it bigger for the world, or was the content stolen from TU/e? There is no way to tell by looking. If this is a genuine project from TU/e, there are some changes they could make to improve the project. If the project is not theirs, I would really love to see the National Library of Medicine recreate a project like this, but done properly. They’ve proven they can. And there is a genuine need.

Fair Use & Figures: When Is It OK? (Part One: Copyright)

Last week I spent some time in conversations that began with Andrew Maynard’s posting a question to Twitter: “When is it OK to post a figure from a paper in a blog post?”

There were a lot of interesting thoughts and responses (before the conversation detoured off into mac’n’cheese and samurai swords). Things along the lines of, “What!? You mean research figures are different from pictures?” and “Isn’t it OK if you give a citation?” and “Well, my journal won’t allow it, but maybe some others do.” And what did the answer turn out to be? “It depends.” Isn’t that the truth – intellectual property issues always seems to depend on a variety of factors and situations. But answers to the various responses and questions were also sometimes not what was expected.

Does giving a citation to the source make it ok to share? Turns out it is irrelevant, in the sense of what is required legally, although it is expected as part of being active in scholarly culture as a matter of courtesy.

Now, more about posting research figures in blogs. I found quite a lot of information online to help explain part of how this works (or doesn’t). I’ll include small quotations that I found particularly helpful in understanding this better. Please not, IANAL (“I Am Not A Lawyer”!), so hopefully someone with more legal experience will contribute thoughts in the comments or will reply in another post.

“REUSE OF FIGURES, IMAGES, AND OTHER CONTENT”

The absolutely most helpful piece I found was from MIT Libraries.

MIT Libraries, Scholarly Publishing: Reuse of figures, images, and other content in theses http://libraries.mit.edu/scholarly/publishing/copyright-publishing-guide-for-students/reuse-of-figures-images-and-other-content-in-theses/

Please note, this is describing rights to re-use content in THESES, not blogposts, so it might be a little different. The MIT resource emphasized two main points (copyright, and fair use), with a pointed twist (oops, figures ARE different!).

Point 1: Is it copyrighted?

You see, if it isn’t copyrighted, if an image is in the public domain, you don’t have a problem — it is content you can use. That is more likely to apply to items that are quite old, or created by government employees in the performance of their job. But copyright gets complicated. What if the journal is from Australia instead of the United States? Whether or not a piece is copyrighted may change based on the country in which it was created.

Even if it is copyrighted, if it is licensed for open use, you are fine. Probably. OK, I’m going to show an image here that ought to be OK, and hope it really is. This stuff is tricky. If someone complains, I’ll blur out whatever part they are concerned about.

PubMed Example of Research Figure Searching & Display (Neuroinflammation Imaging) PubMed screenshot of:
Benjamin Pulli and John W Chen. Imaging Neuroinflammation – from Bench to Bedside. J Clin Cell Immunol. Author manuscript; available in PMC Dec 16, 2014. Published in final edited form as: J Clin Cell Immunol. 2014; 5: 226. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25525560

This is a screenshot from PubMed. PubMed is an open database developed and created by the US government. I had talked with our lawyers about using screenshots from databases in teaching and blogging about database interfaces. I was told (off the record) that it was probably OK to use the screenshots without asking for permissions as part of fair use. The idea was that even if the database legally has copyright protection for their user interface design (as they most assuredly do), that I am teaching and blogging about it is unlikely to impact on their sales negatively, which is one of the markers of “Fair Use” assessment. Chances are, if anything, my teaching and blogging about their database would serve as free advertising, increasing awareness and profits rather than reducing them. That assumes, of course, that I am saying good things about them. So, maybe it would be a different matter and not fair use if I was criticizing the database?

PubMed does this nifty thing where you can find images of research figures in the citations, if the original source is an article in PubMed Central, an extension of PubMed’s database that includes open access articles deposited by the publishers. (More info here about how they are different.) For the images displayed as thumbnails in PubMed, if you mouse over them, they get big and beautiful. This is what I’m showing in this screenshot.

This screenshot is of a citation record for an article that is open access and published in PubMed Central. Does the copyright permissions for screenshots in PubMed extend to the content? That this article is open access would mean that the article is copyrighted, but open for people who want to read it, and also available to re-use under specific guidelines. The guidelines given for the article are, “This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.” By the rules, I need to include a full citation with the image. I have done so, both in Flickr, where I put the screenshot, and here in the blogpost. BUT.

PubMed Example of Research Figure Searching & Display (Neuroinflammation Imaging) 2

BUT. But what? But this figure from the open access research article says that a portion of the image was modified from another source, WITH PERMISSION. Does that permission extend to me, since it was in an open access journal? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I need to get two sets of permission to use this image, or none. Do I need to go back to the original authors of that portion and request permission myself? Do I need to blur out that portion of the image? Or did the process of these authors getting permission to use in an open access journal publication cover subsequent re-use? Do I need to check the policies for the journal where the source image was published? It’s … complicated.

For me, today, I’m electing to go ahead and use the image, trusting and hoping that the permissions cover this use. If someone complains, I will go back and blur out that portion of the image, and then replace it.

Many publishers have processes by which they establish policies that guide whether or not they give permission easily or if you have to jump through hoops or purchase permission. If you want to find out what the policies are for a journal with a figure you’d like to use, the place to check is SHERPA. If you want to know if a journal is open access, the you may want to check the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).

SHERPA/RoMEO – Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/

DOAJ: http://doaj.org/


Part Two will look more deeply at the idea of Fair Use in using research figures. That’s where it gets really interesting, so stay tuned! For now, I hope you have a better sense of the two-pronged sword of copyright in using research figures:

– Yes, it’s OK to use research figures that are copyright-free, public domain, or open access;
– BUT, sometimes those categories are less than straightforward.

Strategies for Better Science Blogging: Part One, Best Practices & Guidelines

Scientific Communication Word Cloud (I Ching)

Last week, there was a kerfuffle around an IFLScience blogpost about rare diseases, and the responses from the rare disease community. In that post, I mentioned that I’d been looking for guidelines, checklist, style guides, and other similar types of tools for effective and appropriate science blogging, but that I wanted to make it a separate post. This is that promised post.

Before I get in too deep, here is a search strategy I used, and which you can use to poke around more in this, if you wish.

(“science blogging” OR “blogging about science”) (“style guide” OR checklist OR guidelines OR “best practices” OR rules)

(1)

Let’s start with the best introduction and brief overview I’ve found, written by Andrew Maynard. In these two posts, Andrew distills the most important lessons learned from years of working with graduate students and collaborating with other bloggers to give feedback on his “Mind the Science Gap” course and blog.

Anyone can blog about science. But it takes effort and diligence to blog well.

When I was teaching the Mind The Science Gap blogging course at the University of Michigan, it became clear early on that, no matter how enthusiastic or knowledgeable you are, there are some basic guidelines that can help make the difference between a great piece and a train wreck (thankfully we never had any of the latter). Over time, these developed into the Mind The Science Gap Good Practice Guide for writing Science Blog Posts.

So you want to write better science blog posts … http://www.riskscience.umich.edu/want-write-better-science-blog-posts/

Good Practice Guide for Writing Science Blog Posts http://www.mindthesciencegap.org/style-guide/good-practice-guide-for-writing-science-blog-posts/

Here is a distillation of his main points in my own words.

PREPARING:
Read broadly.
Read quality.
Skim beyond the basics.

GENERAL:
Don’t imply expertise you don’t have.
Don’t give advice.
If you give opinions, SAY THEY ARE OPINION.

WRITING:
Stick to the facts.
Include multiple voices & sources.
Report on controversies fairly.
CITE THEM.
Be generous with credit to others.

PICTURES:
Choose images to support the story.
Get permission.
Cite your images, also.

LAST STEPS:
Re-read your writing.
Find a proofreader.
Ask yourself if what you said was fair, accurate, scientifically defensible, and honest (FASH).

AFTER:
If you made a mistake, own it.
If you correct a mistake, say so in the post.
Say thanks to whoever raises useful questions.

(2)

Including many of the above, but enriching them with many practical tips from a rich set of interviews with successful science bloggers, this next one is also fabulous. I’d love to see “Blogging Tips” made into an infographic / checklist where I could post it for easy access.

Blogging Tips for Science Bloggers, From Science Bloggers http://www.scilogs.com/from_the_lab_bench/blogging-tips-for-science-bloggers-from-science-bloggers/

(3)

There are a lot of people concerned with the quality of science blogs right now. Andrew Maynard (1) has been teaching classes on science blogging. SciLogs (2) had that series of interviews with best practices. And at Science Online this year, there was a workshop devoted to the topic of standards in science blogging. They used the hashtag #SCIOstandards to extend the conversation through Twitter. I’ve picked just a couple example tweets with good points, but really, it is worth going to the #SCIO Standards Storify and reading through the whole thing!

There is a lot more! Here is one of several Tweets connecting to the Storify. There are also many spin-off conversations without the hashtag. You can see these by browsing from the individual tweets, and reading the replies to them.

For more background about this workshop, check out this link.

Background Reading in Science Blogging – #scioStandards http://www.scilogs.com/next_regeneration/background-reading-in-science-blogging-sciostandards/

(4)

Given that what started all this were questions of science blogging ethics and how blogging can work (or not) within a community, it seemed appropriate to draw attention to the community guidelines and harassment policy from one of the leading science blogging communities and forums, Science Online. It might seem a bit strange to include the concept of harassment in the context of science blogs best practices, but just think for a moment. What is your goal? If it is to inflame controversy and grab attention, then perhaps harassing people is one way to succeed in that goal. If your goal is, however, to accurately communicate science information in an engaging way, then you want to reach a broad audience and you want them to believe you. Making enemies may not be the best path towards that goal. In the case of last week’s IFLScience upset, it is unfortunate that there is a significant audience that felt persecuted and harassed. I don’t believe that was intentional, but it wouldn’t hurt for IFLscience (and the rest of us) to stop and consider whether or not our posts could be interpreted as willfully contentious or harassing as part of those final steps in our checklist before clicking “post.”

Science Online Community Guidelines: http://scienceonline.com/community-guidelines/

Mission:
“ScienceOnline cultivates science conversations both online and face-to-face. At our face-to-face events, we provide an atmosphere that encourages creativity, collaborations, connections, and fun. Through social media, we listen, support, share, recommend, and reach out. Through all of this, we celebrate science.”

Values:
“Respect. Generosity. Acceptance. Open-mindedness. Compassion. Kindness. Curiosity. Enthusiasm. Humor, Wit. Inclusivity. Collaboration. Open-mindedness, Humility. Support. Sharing. Cooperation, rather than competition. Encouragement, Transparency, Engaging all with science. Inclusive, Encouraging Individuality, Cooperation, Creative, Innovative, Engagement. Critical, challenging, enthusiastic. Passion, Great at connecting the dots in a pattern that makes sense 🙂 Principled, Generous, Profound, Profoundly fun.”

Science Online: Harassment Policy: http://scienceonline.com/scienceonline-harassment-policy/

Harassment Policy:
“Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to ethnicity, religion, disability, physical appearance, gender, or sexual orientation in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome attention.”

(5)

I’ve said many times that my favorite piece on how to respond to negative comments on a blog post is the Air Force guidelines shared by Jeremiah Owang.

Air Force Blog Assessment

That said, while it provides a strong general foundation, there are special characteristics to science blogs that may benefit from a slightly different context or require different types of responses. This is especially true when you consider the community and culture of science, and compare that with the broader communities and cultures in which science occurs. Here is a recent post I found by Juliana Houghton, which discusses these issues from the viewpoint of students blogging about science. It’s worth reading.

Student Post: Science Blogging — A Veritable Troll Bridge for the Modern Age: http://www.engage-science.com/student-post-science-blogging-a-veritable-troll-bridge-for-the-modern-age/

“But when we’re writing about things like science, and especially the parts of science that we individually find inspiring and enlightening, we might not expect inflammatory comments that seemingly come out of nowhere. To complicate matters, in science we are trained to question and to respond to questions. It is doubt and questioning that pushes science forward and keeps us from resting on our laurels. Q&A sessions following scientific talks often contain questions that get at the very fabric of our research. We can (and should!) say “I don’t know” when we really don’t, but we also work hard to think carefully about those comments and not dismiss them just because we might prefer our present point of view.”

I loved that paragraph which placed science blogging in the context and culture of doing science. This next snippet is what echoes the Air Force policies mentioned above.

“Ask yourself, is this commenter presenting an alternate viewpoint or just a personal attack. If the latter, it’s ok to just leave a comment unanswered. Another way is to set up strict commenting rules on your site and follow through with moderating. If your rule is that comments must address the article’s topic and the comment simply calls the author a nasty name, then it never even needs to appear on the webpage (or can be quickly taken down by the moderator, depending on your settings).”

(6)

Last but not least, let’s look at science blogging in the broader context of academic and scholarly blogging. There are best practices and courses for those environments, also! Virtually all of what appears in the literature on academic blogging is relevant to science blogging. Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlethwaite drafted a quite nice overview at Just Publics 365, which provides context beyond much of what has already been said — about the target audience, your readers, differences in writing styles between blogs and professional research venues, and more. They’ve made this available in a variety of formats.

A Guide to Blogging for Academics http://justpublics365.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2014/06/30/academic-guide-to-blogging/

1. Talk to Me: Acknowledge the Reader.
2. Just Say It: Don’t lead with a disclaimer or qualifier.
3. K.I.S.S. : Keep it Simple Scholar
4. Get in & Get Out.
5. No, It’s Not All Important
6. If You Have Something to Say, Say It
7. Don’t Let Perfection Be The Enemy of The Good
8. Scholarly Writing vs. Public Writing

The Academic’s Guide to Writing Online http://sociologysource.squarespace.com/storage/Academics_Guide_To_Writing_Online.pdf

Illustrated Blogging Advice for Researchers
http://justpublics365.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2013/09/11/illustrated-blogging-advice-for-researchers/

Media Skills for Scholars http://mediaskillsforscholars.pressbooks.com/

Just to connect that back to the science context, there is an older article about science blogging that has some similar insights, and which discusses why scientists blog. I found it interesting and useful to just break out the section headings from that article.

Bonetta, Laura. Scientists Enter the Blogosphere. Cell 129 (May 4, 2007):443-445. http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(07)00543-0

Meet the Bloggers
Blogging to E-ducate
What is the Impact?
Why Aren’t You Blogging?
Blogging to Talk Shop
Communities of Bloggers

Closing thoughts

Do you know why you are blogging? Are there any of these best practices that you wish you did better? There are for me! We all have strengths and weaknesses, may be good at one thing and not so strong in other areas. I don’t usually have anyone read over my work before it goes live, and there are likely to be a lot of possible errors as a result of that. So far, I’ve scraped by, and I’m grateful that this is just a personal blog and that I don’t face the kind of audience and attention that IFLScience have. I’m not sure I’d do any better with the scrutiny than they are currently.

I did find many other resources along these lines. These are more the high profile pieces and overall context. I hope to have another post to simply share a lot of links that might be of further interest.

To Folks in SE Michigan: Help Us With #MakeHealth

We Make Health Fest #MakeHealth
We Make Health Fest: http://makehealth.us/

I don’t know if you’ve checked out the website recently, but it keeps changing.

We have great keynote speakers:
José Gomez Marquez from the Little Devices Lab at MIT and John Costik, type 1 diabetes hacker, father, community collaborator, and innovator for the #wearenotwaiting movement!

We are showing a movie (don’t know if there will be popcorn, but I hope so).

Maker, the Movie (Screenshot)
Maker the Movie: http://makerthemovie.com/

We have OUR OWN video, made by the incredible Andrew Maynard! Watch it, and share it, please!


We #makehealth Fest- August 16th! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxWMpCMInNA

We have a blog:
https://medium.com/@HealthByUs/

We have a DIY app contest that is do-able by anyone from kids to seniors.
https://medium.com/@HealthByUs/make-your-own-app-1625e119f16d

The speaker list has been finalized, and those of you who are speaking should either receive a notice soon or may have already received a notice. Ditto for exhibitors. REMEMBER our mantra – SHOW+TELL+DO: Connect your booth or demo or talk to health and personal empowerment, and make booths/demos interactive with something people can take home and do themselves. If you are having trouble thinking of how to do that, talk to me and we can brainstorm a bit.

We have a PRESS KIT, and hope you will help us spread the word! Can you print and post signs around your office or department? Do you know a business owner who might put one in their window? Can you share the word at your church or grocery store or barber? Does your school or location have those monitors or wall panels that show slides?

The Press Kit includes a text description, and the poster as a PDF, a PNG, and a powerpoint slide.

Press Kit: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B3Mz3YhZbmefclRiRnFlemkyaTA&usp=sharing

The event is getting media attention. We have been informed by a couple publications that they are sending or may send reporters. Pre-event articles, interviews, and blogposts are being posted at our Twitter account (@MakeHealthUM), hashtag (#MakeHealth), and Google Plus Community (+MakeHealthUM).

If you aren’t speaking or exhibiting, there are other ways you can volunteer or participate.

– Sign up as a volunteer on our website (there are things for which we still need help!)
– Blog about the event, talk it up, send email to your listservs for local community people, post on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever you are using.
– Take pictures / audio / video of the event, and post them online with the hashtag and a Creative Commons license, so we can edit them together after the event into cool overviews of what happened, and make promos for outreach for next year’s event.
– TWEET. We need livetweeters for the presentations. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get a sign language interpreter for the deaf, so tweeting may be an alternate way to provide access for persons with hearing loss. I will probably be in a booth and couldn’t do the whole day anyway, but for livetweeting, more people definitely makes it better.

Many thanks! This would never have happened without you all!

Finding & Using Images, Lessons Learned (the Hard Way)

I can talk for a very long time about finding Creative Commons and Public Domain images, and the tricks and troubles associated with doing so. This is going to be an image-heavy words-light post about some of what I’ve learned over the past several years. For the short short version, go right to the bottom for my favorite places to find images to use.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons: New License Chooser

Many people say “Creative Commons” as a one-size-fits-all term for I-can-use-this-picture-without-paying-money-and-not-get-in-legal-trouble. That isn’t what it means. Some people still believe that they can take and use any image on any website. This is not remotely true! I myself use a lot of screenshots, and had some earnest worried talks with University Counsel before starting to do so. Strictly speaking, the screenshots may be a questionable practice from a legal point of view, but it has become common practice and rarely causes a problem as long as the site is open to the public. The caveat? If someone complains, be prepared to take the image down, and apologize.

Most of the images people are thinking of that fall into the safe-to-use category are actually public domain. Creative Commons usually applies when someone made a new image that could be copyrighted and has chosen to give advance permissions for some types of use, but not all. This means you can re-use the images in some ways, but can still get into trouble if you don’t do something they asked (like keep their name with the image) or do something they asked people NOT to do (like rework the image).

The Creative Commons organization has a tool to help people decide what license to choose for their own images. I find that tool very helpful in understanding how the creator of the image was thinking about their own work, and thus allowing me to be more respectful of their stated requirements.

Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/

Choose a License: http://creativecommons.org/choose/

University of Michigan Libraries Research Guides: Creative Commons: http://guides.lib.umich.edu/content.php?pid=483716

What is Public Domain?

Public domain basically means when an image or text is not copyrightable. This can be because of who created it, what type of information it includes, or that it used to be copyrighted and is now too old. The best simple overview of this is from Lolly Gasaway.

Lolly Gasaway: When US Works Pass Into the Public Domain: http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm

If you want a lot more information about public domain, check out the manifesto, which discusses many of the issues of public domain in the contemporary online environment.

The Public Domain Manifesto: http://www.publicdomainmanifesto.org/node/8

I Can Use This Because It’s Old … Maybe

Historic images are often considered to be public domain, but … not always. If the photograph of the original image is copyrighted, then it doesn’t matter how old the original was. If I went to a museum, they probably won’t allow me to take pictures. If they do, and I take a picture of a painting there (like this picture of St. Apollonia from the University of Michigan Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry), there are issues with (a) did I have permission to take the image, (b) did I have permission to share the image, (c) did I give permission to use or share the image, and so forth.

Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry: St. Apollonia

OR (and this is important), I could follow the assumptions of the Wikimedia Commons team:

The official position taken by the Wikimedia Foundation is that “faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain, and that claims to the contrary represent an assault on the very concept of a public domain”. For details, see Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag. This photographic reproduction is therefore also considered to be in the public domain.

In that case, a straight-on shot of the complete work is usually considered safe to use. That is also the case for this next image.

This next image is of a Japanese calligraphy created in 1923. In USA law, that would be in the public domain. I found it in Wikimedia Commons, my favorite place to find public domain and creative commons images. Why I like them best is because they give the full provenance (or history) of the image, why they think it is legally ok to use, where they got it, and what license or credit should be given with the image when used.

Example public domain image

From Wikimedia Commons


File:Zen painting and calligraphy on silk signed Hachijûgo (85 year old) Nantembô Tôjû, 1923.jpg: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zen_painting_and_calligraphy_on_silk_signed_Hachij%C3%BBgo_(85_year_old)_Nantemb%C3%B4_T%C3%B4j%C3%BB,_1923.jpg

Because this is considered public domain, there is no license statement provided with it, but if I dig into the information in the image summary, I can find more about where it come from to provide a proper source and attribution. Notice that the image is actually from a book or journal, still in print, and available for purchase. I am sure glad that Wikimedia made the judgment call on this one, because I would not feel safe using it if they had not already established precedent.

Description
English: Zen painting and calligraphy on silk by Nakahara Nantenbo signed “Hachijūgo (85 year old) Nantembō Tōjū”, 1923
Date: 1923
Source: Andon, No. 85, p. 59
Author: Nakahara Nantenbo

Because it is considered public domain, I can do pretty much ANYTHING with it. I can use it in writings or slides, change its format, reprint it as a poster or tshirt and sell it, recolor it, make it 3D, make a parody of it, convert it into music, move it into a virtual world, and so forth. In the image below, I moved it into Second Life, where I made a poster of it for the wall of a memorial for the victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

Pic of the day - Sad Face

I Can Use This Because I Made It Different … Sometimes

Here’s a similar example, with important differences.

From Wikimedia Commons

Low-resolution image of Escher’s Relativity print


Escher’s Relativity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Escher%27s_Relativity.jpg

Now this one is from 1953, and is not out of copyright anywhere in the world. Even more confusing, the image is taken directly from Escher’s own official website. How can they get away with this?

“This image is of a drawing, painting, print, or other two-dimensional work of art, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, the person who commissioned the work, or the heirs thereof. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of works of art for critical commentary on
* the work in question,
* the artistic genre or technique of the work of art or
* the school to which the artist belongs
on the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.”

People love this print, and it has been re-used in many different ways. Here is an example of a couple of avatars wandering around in a 3d replica of the space.

Cool Toys Pic of the day - Primtings Museum

Here is a link to a copyrighted image of a reconstruction of the print as a real world 3d object, made with … LEGOs.

Escher’s “Relativity” in LEGO®: http://www.andrewlipson.com/escher/relativity.html

What makes these ok? They aren’t exactly low-rez images, but what they are is substantially innovative reworkings of the original concept. That can be a tricky point in intellectual property law, so don’t trust on it as a get-out-of-jail-free-card.

I Can Use This Because the Government Made It … Maybe

There is a perception that it is OK to take and use any image on any website that has a government web address (“.gov”). Often that’s pretty close, but again, it is not always true, only sometimes. Sometimes the government uses images made by other people who are not government employees. Rights for those images belong to the person who made them, or to the company they work for. You need to know which, and you usually need to ask first just to be sure. Read the fine print.

“Some of these photos are in the public domain or U.S. government works and may be used without permission or fee. However, some images may be protected by license or copyright. You should read the disclaimers on each site before using these images.” U.S. Government Photos and Images: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Graphics.shtml

So, I’m a bit of an astro fan, and just love astronomy images. Here is one from the Hubble telescope, credited to NASA, the European Space Agency, and Hubble themselves.

Cat's Eye Nebula
Cat’s Eye Nebula: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/pr2004027a/
Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: R. Corradi (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Spain) and Z. Tsvetanov (NASA)

If you look at the image on the Hubble site, they give information for how to credit the image, and it isn’t entirely clear on the image page if it is legal to use or not. They do have another page for all their images stating they use Creative Commons licensing requiring attribution.

Hubble: Usage of images, videos and web texts: http://www.spacetelescope.org/copyright/

They actually had a big contest for folk who used or spotted uses of their images in Popular Culture. I won 3rd place for “Weird” with this dress and avatar design, in which the image above (the Cat’s Eye Nebula) became the eyes of the avatar. And this is all perfectly fine and hunky-dory, and I even won copies of some images and videos from them.

Hubble Gown

SEARCHING

There are a TON of places that say they offer a search for images that are creative commons, public domain, or royalty free. Most of them are not actually very safe to use. I’m going to show you several here, with brief comments along the lines of yes, no, maybe so.

CompFight
Creative Commons Search, Yea or Nay
CompFight: http://compfight.com/

MAYBE.
They use the Flickr API to provide an alternate Flickr search experience, powered by ads. Why not just go to Flickr? PS – There are so many other search engines that say they are Creative Commons search engines that are really just using the Flickr API. I am not going to list them all.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Creative Commons: Search: http://search.creativecommons.org/

MAYBE.
“Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link.”

Flickr
Creative Commons Search, Yea or Nay
Flickr: The Commons: http://www.flickr.com/commons

Creative Commons Search, Yea or Nay
Flickr: Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

CAREFUL! YES &/OR MAYBE
When people search creative commons images in Flickr, they often aren’t aware that there are TWO completely different “Commons” in Flickr. When you search or browse “The Commons” you are getting images from schools, libraries, museums, and other famous and authoritative sources. When you search Flickr’s “Creative Commons” search you are trusting whoever put the image there. Not everyone is equally savvy and responsible.

I once had posted a slidedeck that used images from Flickr’s Creative Commons search. I listed the sources of all the images, with link, and then went back to each Flickr page and posted a thank you for making their image CC-licensed, giving the link to where I used it. One of the posters then commented on my comment, saying, “Don’t thank me! I took the image from [insert here name of most famous newspaper you can think of].” Oh. Uh oh. Oh, no.

Google: Image Search
Creative Commons
Google: Advanced Image Search: https://www.google.com/advanced_image_search?hl=en&biw=953&bih=787&q=commons&tbm=isch

Close up:
Creative Commons

SOMETIMES, (BUT MOSTLY NO).
Google Image Search is a case of Good News, Bad News. The Good News is, “Wow, look! They have a way to let you search by license or image rights!” The Bad News is that, of necessity, they trust the information provided on the source page about licensing, and sometimes people steal images, often without realizing they are doing so, and repost them with more freedom than was provided under the original license. That means many, if not most, of the images listed as Creative Commons in Google’s Image Search, well, AREN’T!!

Imagestamper
Cool Toys Pic of the Day - ImageStamper
Imagestamper: http://www.imagestamper.com/

MAYBE. MAYBE NOT.
Not an image search site, but a license management site. Imagestamper offers to manage licensing for you, and keep a record of the license you negotiated at a particularly point in time. The logic is that some images appear to be Creative Commons at one point in time, and then later the owner changes their mind. This really does happen. Ouch. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s still alive.

In their words: “The service is in early beta. Currently the service works with images hosted on Flickr, but we will soon add support for images hosted on deviantART and a number of other image-sharing websites. © 2008-2011 ImageStamper.com”

Morgue File
Creative Commons Search, Yea or Nay
Morgue File: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/

NO.
They use a their own home-grown variant of Creative Commons licensing that hasn’t been tested in the courts, and is thus not reliable. Basically, who really knows if these images are safe to use, and how to properly provide attribution?

Noun Project
Cool Toys Pic of the day - Noun Project
Noun Project: http://thenounproject.com/

YES, SOMETIMES
Absolutely fabulous site, but only for images of icons created for and submitted to the site. More info.

Ookaboo
Cool Toys Pic of the day - ookaboo
Ookaboo: http://ookaboo.com/o/pictures/

MAYBE.
Mostly mines Wikimedia Commons for content, under a different interface. Personally, I prefer the original. More info.

SpinXPress
Cool Toys pics of the day: SpinXPress
SpinXPress: http://www.spinxpress.com/getmedia

SOMETIMES.
This is basically a different interface to searching from the Creative Commons portal, with many of the same caveats, and some new ones, too. More Info

Wikimedia Commons
Cool Toys Pic of the Day - Wikimedia Commons (Open Free Pics, Photos and Media)
Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/

YES.
But always:
1) click on the image to go to the page for the image information, and
2) scroll to the bottom of the page for each image to check licensing information and use their recommended credit or attribution statement.

Wylio
Cool Toys Pic of the day - WylioCreative Commons Search, Yea or Nay
Cool Toys Pic of the day - WylioCool Toys Pic of the day - Wylio
Wylio: http://www.wylio.com/

MAYBE. MAYBE NOT.
They used to say they’d manage licensing for you, now that’s not clear. They used to just let you search, and now they require you to log in with a Google account. They want you to pay them for the full service, but these are images that are supposed to be free. And on the bottom of the results pages, they feed you to sites that sell images for money. I dunno. Hmmm.

ASSUMPTIONS THAT WORK SOMETIMES, BUT NOT ALWAYS

I can use this because:
– it’s old
– it’s different from the original
– the government made it

BEST PRACTICES

Read the fine print.
Ask for permission if you aren’t sure.
Don’t assume.

MY FAVORITE PLACES FOR FREE IMAGES

1. Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org

2. Flickr Commons (NOT Flickr Creative Commons): http://www.flickr.com/commons

3. For University of Michigan people, here is more information, LOTS more information!

Research Guides: Images: http://guides.lib.umich.edu/content.php?pid=32604

Hashtags for Twitter Cancer Communities

Top ten hashtags associated with #cancer

Librarians have been geeking out, or grossing out, over hashtags since they first appeared. Some of the conversation has been about concerns over ‘allowing’ the public to define their own metadata, while much of it has been the flip side of trying to engage the public in generating metadata for library online collections, and thus enriching access and awareness for those collections.

Naturally, the general public simply move forward with creating new hashtags for their own purposes, largely unaware of the conversations and concerns of professionals in the area of metadata. This is as it should be. The idea of a Folksonomy, a.k.a. folk taxonomy, as originated by Thomas Vanderwal centers around the social aspect — real people, real folk, coming up with language that means something to them to describe content that matters to them with ideas that matter to them. Meaning.

I could go on about this for a long time, but today I need to focus on a particular aspect of this dynamic — a shift from folk+taxonomy to folk+ontology. Folkology? Folk ontology? Folktology? A little bit of digging leads me to folktology (non-scholarly) or tagontology (scholarly) as preferred terms for this, both of which are used roughly the same amount.

In social media, one of the greatest strengths has been the power to create community where none existed before, to connect and empower those who may otherwise be isolated. The most prominent examples of this in healthcare have been the emerging communities around chronic conditions (such as diabetes), marginalized communities (such as facial difference and transgendered), and conditions that create isolation as part of the lifestyle or treatment of the condition (such as mobility disorders, many types of cancer, and any condition expected to be fatal).

Taking cancers as an example, there is the immediate problem of the ambiguity of language. In the image at the head of this post, the hashtag #cancer is shown to be most often associated with the Zodiac, not with healthcare. This makes that term itself less useful for healthcare uses.

Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project 07082013
Symplur: The Healthcare Hashtag Project: http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/

In the Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project, a crowdsourced collection of hashtags in health, there are over 2500 hashtags total, with over 100 (n=133 07/08/2013) related to cancer. These range from disease tags, to events, to scheduled chats, and more. When people enter a new tag, they cannot do so anonymously, and the tags are reviewed before being added to the database. The tag donor is also asked to define the tag category at time of submission. Non-event tags must be able to show that they are used by multiple people. All of this makes the quality of the collection superior to most hashtag databases on the web. (I often wish there was something similar for science hashtags, or information technology hashtags, etc. I also often wish that the project content was routinely archived for posterity through a neutral organization, such as a library, but that is another conversation to have.)

The problem? Not one of those 133 hashtags on cancer is the hashtag #cancer. Of course, it would be really messy to try to separate the zodiac hashtags from the health hashtags, so I can understand why it has been avoided. However, this problem of the commonly used hashtag being missing from the database occurs fairly regularly. It is a not unexpected problem with crowdsourced information collections. Here’s another example. According to Symplur, the preferred hashtag for ovarian cancer is #ovariancancer. If you actually prowl around Twitter, there is an enormous variety of tags used, with the most common being #ovca. The #ovca content is not currently being captured, tracked, or archived in the project database. I just this morning submitted the #ovca tag when I noticed it was lacking. Hopefully, it may be active by the time this post goes live, but the content in it would be sparse and would lack history.

Here are the top, ie. most common, cancer hashtags, according to Symplur.

Cancer:
#BCSM; #BladderCancer; #BowelCancer; #BrainCancer; #BreastCancer; #CancerChat; #CancerFreeMe; #CancerSurvivors; #CervicalCancer; #Chemo; #ChildhoodCancer; #ColonCancer; #Leukemia; #LiverCancer; #LungCancer; #Lyphoma; #Melanoma; #Mesothelioma; #OralCancer; #OvarianCancer; #PancreaticCancer; #PediatricCancer; #ProstateCancer; #SkinCancer; #TesticularCancer; #XMRV
Symplur: The Healthcare Hashtag Project: http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/diseases/

You’ll notice a wide variety of types of tags, with a general approach tending toward long tags that include the full words. In actual practice on Twitter, this is the reverse of standard practice, in which tags are kept short to minimize the number of characters used. Many of these tags, like #OvarianCancer, have shorter alternatives that are also used heavily (ie. #ovca). For breast cancer, both forms appear in the Symplur list: #BreastCancer and #BCSM. #BrCa, however, was missing, just like #OvCa. I submitted it, also.

You see the problem? Problems, actually. Part of it is discovery of the terms used, part of it is the actual terms used, and part of it is the community working to ‘manage’ creation, use, and adoption of the terms. Enter @SubatomicDoc, a.k.a. Dr. Matthew Katz. Matthew is a radiation oncologist who has been active in a couple different Twitter cancer communities, most notably #BCSM (which he adopted) and #LCSM (which he initiated). #BCSM stands for breast cancer social media, and #LCSM stands for lung cancer social media. The process of coming up with a better hashtag for lung cancer, gathering a community around it, and developing traction and adoption, got him thinking. What about other cancers?

Matthew sent me a direct message last week about this. He’d been thinking, and had created a rough draft of what he is calling a folksonomy, but which is really more of an ontology, uh, folktology or tag-ontology. We went back and forth several times, thinking about metadata design, automated sorting in computers, common usage, structuring subconcepts, distinguishing proposed tags from currently used tags in other domains, and various other ideas of how to best structure these in a way that would be useful, practical, and true to the concepts and communities. Matthew released the initial draft at the ASCO site last week, with a substantial model integrating proposed and existing Twitter hashtags around cancer experiences and communities.

Matthew S. Katz, MD. Hashtag Folksonomy for Cancer Communities on Twitter. ASCO Connection: 03 Jul 2013 9:08 AM http://connection.asco.org/Commentary/Article/ID/3590/Hashtag-Folksonomy-for-Cancer-Communities-on-Twitter.aspx

Since then there has been a lot of reaction, with people asking for MORE. Frankly, that is not a reaction I think either of us expected. There are refinements and extensions evolving from the communities. It is becoming a richer and broader conversation. I’d like to see more medical librarians engage with this. I am no metadata specialist, and would love to see someone get interested who is more expert than I am with metadata.

One of the extensions that was proposed through Twitter conversations around this is the idea of secondary tags to connect common cancer issues with specific cancer communities. I’d roughed out a list of some of those issues for my book chapter for online cancer resources and search strategies, back in the MLA Guide.

CAM, biopsy, staging, caregiving, home care, chemotherapy, cancer medications, side effects, clinical trials, fatigue, new diagnosis, nutrition, diet, pain, prevention, lifestyle, second opinions, sexuality, survival, and talking about cancer to different audiences.
MLA Guide: Free Samples: Sample Chapters: Volume Two: Diseases and Disorders: Part IV: Cancers, by P. F. Anderson http://www-personal.umich.edu/~pfa/mlaguide/free/cancers.html#issues

One of the ideas Matthew is talking about is how to come up with a strategy for creating new hashtags that would open this up to others, what are the criteria or best practices for creating new hashtags. I did some thinking on this for my Enriching Scholarship workshop on Twitter Hashtags for Science.

Twitter Hashtags

Twitter hashtags mindmap: http://www.mindmeister.com/270101756/twitter-hashtags-by-pf-anderson

I should make a separate post about the model I developed for thinking through best practices of creating new hashtags, but I’ll just put a placeholder here. The acronym is LUDDITE, which stands for:

Length
Unique
Distinct
Decipherable
Indelible
Time
Enterprise

LUDDITE Model for Hashtag Creation

These overlap in many key points with Matthew’s criteria in his ASCO post, however he includes critical points of working specifically for cancer and healthcare communities.

“It is disease-based;
It helps patients with similar diagnoses learn and share rather than be isolated by the cancer experience;
It is designed to make information more easily accessible;
It is unique enough to be distinguished from other topics online;
Brevity is key to allow more content/conversation, especially with Twitter.”

So, that’s as far as we’ve gotten, but we’d love YOU to join the conversation and thoughts around this. Please put comments about the hashtag model at Matthew’s post, and comments about the process here. Thank you so much!


UPDATE July 15, 2013.

An important followup post from Matthew (@subatomicdoc) is now up.

Cancer Hashtags: High Time or Half-Baked?
Matthew S. Katz, MD
15 Jul 2013 10:09 AM http://connection.asco.org/Commentary/Article/ID/3599/Cancer-Hashtags-High-Time-or-Half-Baked.aspx