Saturday, July 6, 2013

How to read a book?

Hello, after a really long time.

Yes. You read the title right. "How to read a book?" This is what I am reading right now.

"How To Read a Book: The classic guide to intelligent reading" by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. (A Simon & Schuster publication)

I would highly recommend this book to everyone, specially those who will be entering into their undergrad as they will be exposed to a wide variety of books from now onwards. This book answers some of our very fundamental questions like "Why do we read? What are the goals of reading?"

The book is divided into four parts. The first one shows us different dimensions of reading, introducing us to various levels of reading. It also explains the first two levels of reading that are elementary reading and inspectional reading. As students, most of the time, elementary reading is what we generally do till we are in high school. If we are exposed to some literary activity in school, then we may have done some inspectional reading too, that would answer some questions like "What is the book about? What are its structure and parts? etc." Well, we in library science are taught to write book reviews that usually involve inspectional reading.

The third level of reading is analytical reading, which is preeminently meant for understanding. And the fourth level is syntopical reading. It is the most complex and systematic type of reading and places heavy demands on the reader irrespective of the level of the text. This is the kind of reading generally adopted by academicians and researchers. While reading syntopically the reader reads many books on similar or related topics, and places them in relation with one another. It involves more than mere comparison of texts.

Part two explains analytical reading in detail. Part three describes the approaches to different kinds of reading matter, such as, practical matter, imaginative literature, stories, plays and poems, history, scientific works, philosophy and social sciences. Part four broaches on the fourth level of reading and explains the ultimate goals of reading. The last chapter is of special interest that talks about reading and the growth of mind, and what good books can do for us.

Have an insightful reading!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Open Access and Open Journal Publishing: Winds of change are profound !!

Dear friends,

I came across an interesting article in PLoS Medicine March 2011 issue that discusses open access publishing. Dr. Subbaiah Arunachalam, a co-author of this article is a pioneer in promoting open access in India. He has always advocated and supported open access for academic journals. The article highlights are, quote:
  • Unequal access to and distribution of public knowledge is governed by Northern standards and is increasingly inappropriate in the age of the networked “Invisible College”.
  • Academic journals remain the primary distribution mechanism for research findings, but commercial journals are largely unaffordable for developing countries; local journals—more relevant to resolving problems in the South—are near-invisible and under-valued.
  • Donor solutions are unsustainable, are governed by markets rather than user needs, and instil dependency.
  • Open access is sustainable and research driven and builds independence and the capacity to establish a strong research base; it is already converting local journals to international journals.
  • However, as open access becomes the norm, standards for the assessment of journal quality and relevance remain based on Northern values that ignore development needs and marginalise local scholarship. 

Prior to publication of this article, Dr. Arunachalam, along with his co-authors Leslie Chan and Barabara Kirsop has guest blogged on Speaking of Medicine: PLOS Medicine Community Blog regarding withdrawal of journal access by commercial publishers, its after-effects, and alternatives like open access and open publishing. The blog post was entitled "Withdrawal of journal access is a wake-up call for researchers in the developing world". Indeed!! Researchers need to understand the fact that if they wish to generate more visibility to their research and ideas, they need to turn to open journal publishing models and not resort to commercial publishing.

I observe, open journal publishing trend is also like open source software that was not welcomed and accepted a few years ago. Today, the winds of change are profound. So much so that the community of librarians have embraced the open source software to its core. I, as one of such kind, strongly support and vouch for anything open and free of monopoly. Being an experienced professional, I have always tried to publish my views and observations in peer-reviewed open access journals as a modest initiative. Most of the open access journal initiatives are now supported by giants like PLoS (Public Library of Science), MedInd etc. and are peer-reviewed. They are sure to have good impact factors and so also the authors will enjoy good citation ranking.

So, authors, researchers and passionate writers please switch over to open journal publishing and increase and improve your visibility. The time is NOW and YOU are the Change!!

Happy publishing!!

Hathi Trust Digital Library

Dear friends,
HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. There are more than fifty partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide.
The HathiTrust Digital Library provides access to some of the very old and classic texts from several contributing institutions, consortia and universities viz., Triangle Research Libraries Network, University of California, Arizona State University, MIT etc. to name a few.
Not only this, HathiTrust has been certified as a trustworthy digital repository by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in 2011, through their rigorous Trustworthy Repositories Audit and Certification (TRAC) assessment program. Only a small number of digital repositories have been granted this certification.
Wish you all a happy browsing and accessing!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Online engineering education information site

Dear friends,

Edgar Diaz and Samantha Rhodes maintain an online engineering education information site "Online Engineering Degree" They say it is an nonprofit online resource created to explain to students their options and some of the advantages and disadvantages of getting an online engineering degree.

Happy visiting!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Online courses for Engineering students from NPTEL

Dear readers,
I guess, we have earlier discussed about open courseware of MIT. Similarly we have NPTEL courses for Engineering students as a joint collaboration of IITs and IISc in India started a few years ago.
According to the NPTEL website,
"The main objective of NPTEL program is to enhance the quality of engineering education in the country by developing curriculum based video and web courses"
I hope it will be a useful resource for many students.