This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.
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I am the Chair of the Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei (MSB) Studies Group, a committee or interest section of the Association for Asian Studies, the field's chief professional association. Our MSB Studies Group's most important ongoing project is a quarterly journal or newsletter named Berita. Berita has been published by the MSB Studies Group for over thirty years. It includes information items of interest to our members, including calls for papers, conference announcement, research and fellowship opportunities, and so on. By far the largest element of the journal's content, however, is a bibliographic review of scholarship - primarily in academic and news journals - recently published on Malaysia, Singapore, or Brunei in the humanities and social sciences. The review includes citation data as well as an abstract of the publications' content.
Until now, Berita has been compiled and edited as a 'labor of love' by a succession of individual Editors. Our long-serving current Editor has spent hours each week perusing a wide range of journals for relevant articles, reading those articles, and writing abstracts that summarize their content in light of our members' (Berita's readership's) interests. This Editor is retiring, however, and no one has sufficient time to undertake the scope of reading and customized abstract-writing he performed. Thus, we need to rely on electronic databases for our quarterly bibliographic survey. Writing abstracts for the publication will be a collaborative effort undertaken by several volunteers. My role will be to facilitate this work by identifying articles of potential interest using a variety of electronic databases, web sites, and current awareness services. I will perform an initial review of the article metadata and abstracts, organize candidate articles into lists to be shared with reviewers, and deliver these lists to the volunteer reviewers.
The relevant scholarship in Asian Studies, and in our area of specialization of Malaysia,Singapore, and Brunei Studies, spans many disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Because of this disciplinary diversity, identifying articles of possible interest to our readership is challenging. Over several years the retiring Editor developed a list of academic journals that routinely publish work of value to our members. Some of these journals are indexed in general periodical databases, like Academic Search Premier. Others can be tracked using a current awareness service like Ingenta. Meanwhile, other journals have more idiosyncratic modes of discovery and access, such as specialized indexes or standalone web sites. Beyond bibliographic data, the articles may in some cases be available only on the shelves of the local academic libraries of our reviewers.
I need to streamline the process of gathering rich bibliographic references to current literature by developing filters for content retrieval. I must also find a way to aggregate this information into an easily managed format that provides adequate detail for my initial review. For titles included in the Academic Search Premier product, this can be partially achieved by defining a filter and RSS feed for each journal and using a tool like Bloglines to manage and periodically run the feed. However, this method does not scale across all possible content sources. Not all sources offer RSS feeds, and among those that do the content provided by feeds is not consistent. Furthermore, the Bloglines reader lacks functionality for aggregation over time, for selecting and organizing article references, and for sharing these lists with our scholarly reviewers. Other bibliographic tools, like Zotero, have limitations of their own. I've yet to find a single tool or service that automates the process of monitoring literature of potential interest to our audience, or that allows me to organize and share information with reviewers in a way that meets the needs of our publication effort.
General and specialized bibliographic indexes (e.g.: Academic Search Premier)
Alerting services (e.g: Ingenta)
Journal web sites
Word processor or email
Identify useful bibliographic information sources
Define search filters for each bibliographic service
Set up alerts in alerting services
Run searches periodically
Visit the web sites of journals not covered by an available index or alerting service
Aggregate results into separate folders or a single folder
Review the bibliographic references, linking to external sites as needed
Select articles of possible interest to readership
Organize citations into lists
Share lists with reviewers
The current process is too time-consuming; it needs to be streamlined.
Ideally, it would be possible to harvest bibliographic citations and abstracts from diverse, interdisciplinary sources through a single service.
Citations would need to be automatically harvested from within a range of publication dates.
An alerting service like Ingenta delivers complete tables of contents; this is unfortunate since we need only those articles that fit certain search criteria, e.g.: Malaysia,Singapore, or Brunei.
Google News works reasonably well for newspaper articles, and the Google News user interface makes it easy to scan articles; a similar standard output for scholarly literature would aid the reviewer.
It would help greatly if the viewing tool also allowed removing citations from the list and organizing the selected citations into sub-lists for distribution to reviewers.
Some shared distribution system would be great, although emailing lists to reviewers is still an option.