New Paper

I am currently in Toronto presenting our new paper titled “On the Robustness of Google Scholar against Spam” at Hypertext 2010. The paper is about some experiments we did on Google Scholar to find out how reliable their citation data etc. is. The paper soon will be downloadable on our publication page but for now i will post a pre-print version of that paper here in the blog:


In this research-in-progress paper we present the current results of several experiments in which we analyzed whether spamming Google Scholar is possible. Our results show, it is possible: We ‘improved’ the ranking of articles by manipulating their citation counts and we made articles appear in searchers for keywords the articles did not originally contained by placing invisible text in modified versions of the article.

1.    Introduction

Researchers should have an interest in having their articles indexed by Google Scholar and other academic search engines such as CiteSeer(X). The inclusion of their articles in the index improves the ability to make their articles available to the academic community. In addition, authors should not only be concerned about the fact that their articles are indexed, but also where they are displayed in the result list. As with all ranked search results, articles displayed in top positions are more likely to be read.

In recent studies we researched the ranking algorithm of Google Scholar [1-3] and gave advice to researchers on how to optimize their scholarly literature for Google Scholar [4]. However, there are provisos in the academic community against what we called “Academic Search Engine Optimization” [4]. There is the concern that some researchers might use the knowledge about ranking algorithms to ‘over optimize’ their papers in order to push their articles’ rankings in non-legitimate ways.


Most users of SciPlore MindMapping

Most users of SciPlore MindMapping (including me) use JabRef to manage their references. However, I always was thinking about switching to Mendeley because they offer automatic extraction of metadata from PDFs which saves lots of time when creating your bibliography. But Mendeley is not that compatible with SciPlore MindMapping and has some other shortcomings, so I always sticked with JabRef and accepted the time consuming and annoying task of typing titles, author names etc. manually.

But now this will change: our team just created a modified version of JabRef which is able to extract metadata from PDFs. What does that mean? Well, whenever you find a PDF on the internet, you store it on your hard drive, drag&drop it to JabRef and then JabRef will automatically find the right meta data (authors, title, journal, year, page numbers, …) and create a new BibTeX entry which is linked to the PDF file.

And this is how it works:

1. Go to (more information about this new project is coming soon), download our version of JabRef and install it.

2. Open the software and drag&drop one or several PDFs somewhere on the table which lists your BibTeX entries.

3. A dialog will open in which you select “fetch meta data from Mr. dLib”.

4. The next steps should be self explaining :-)

If you need a PDF for testing take this one. This should definately work. If not, please contact us.

And maybe the best thing: Our modified version of JabRef also accepts drag&drop directly from SciPlore MindMapping. That means you can drag&drop a PDF from SciPlore MindMapping into JabRef, there the metadata is extracted and a BibTeX entry created and then you can access the BibTeX data directly in SciPlore MindMapping. This will dramatically improve your workflow (if you don’t know about how to use SciPlore MindMapping and JabRef for managing your academic literature and drafting papers read here or check out this video)

Some words about how all this works in detail: The meta data extraction does not take place on your computer but JabRef will transfer your PDF to our server on which it will be analyzed. Our server then returns the extracted meta data. In most cases (I would assume something around 80%) you should get at least the title. And if your PDF is an article in the field of computer science you have a good chance to get much more information. However, we are constantly improving our algorithms and database. And btw. we will not store your PDF on our servers or any information of it. Once we have analyzed it and returned the meta data to you it will be deleted from our server.

SciPlore MindMapping now provides literature recommendations

Beta 15 of SciPlore MindMapping is out. The major new feature is the literature recommendation module. Based on your mind maps SciPlore MindMapping provides you with literature recommendations that can be downloaded immediately and for free. For this feature we use our upcoming new service Mr. DLib which has several millions of articles indexed from the Web. I have to admit, recommendations are not really good right now because we use a very simple algorithm. However, recommendations will become much better in near future, promised :-).

And there are more enhancements. The monitoring directory works with relative paths, BibTeX files from Mendeley with multiple links can be read, and several bug fixes were made. Here is the complete list:

  • New: Literature recommendations with free full-text link in incoming window
  • New: Automatic Web Service check (message if an old version is used)
  • New: Logging of recommendations, usage data, and incoming window status
  • New: “Import Annotations from PDFs” is now valid globally (not only for drag and drop but, e.g. for monitoring directory)
  • New: Monitoring node works with relative path, too
  • New: Overview mind map on first start
  • Improved: Identification of comments in PDF files improved
  • Improved: Behaviour of icons in incoming window
  • Improved: BibTeX files from Mendeley with multiple files can now be read
  • Fixed: Cancelling monitoring update did not work on all computers (continued in background)
  • Fixed: Renaming imported bookmarks did not work before saving a mind map
  • Fixed: Licence was not shown when selected in menu
  • Fixed: Ref key sometimes wasn`t assigned to imported comments (bookmarks worked)

Let us know what you think of the new version and make a comment here in the Blog.

The new name of SciPlore MindMapping

One month ago we asked our users to send us suggestions for a new name for SciPlore MindMapping. We got a few dozens of ideas and would like to thank all the participants very very much for their great and creative ideas! In our team, we had lots of discussion about the pros and cons of all the names. Eventually, we decided that “Docear” was the best idea. Why? Well, it`s short (six letters/two syllables), the first letter lies quite early in the alphabet, “Docear” is easy to type on a keyboard, we believe the name is quite easy to remember, and, most importantly, we like the meaning: “Docear” pronounces the same way as “Dog-ear” which means kind of a “bookmark” (in German: Eselsohr) and includes the abbreviation for document (doc) which both represents what the software is all about (managing documents). Also, “docear” is the is the first person, singular, present subjunctive, passive from the Latin “docere” meaning “to teach”, which is also not too bad as a meaning for the software.

What do you think about that name?

Be a Guinea Pig

Hilah is a fan of SciPlore and for her research she wants to perform a user study (interviews) with some users of SciPlore MindMapping to understand how academics are using SciPlore MindMapping. The results will help us to understand how you are using the software and how we can improve it. Therefore, please, if you are an active academic user of Sciplore MindMapping, help us understanding how you work with SciPlore MindMapping. Participate in the 30minutes interviews and read on what Hilah has to tell you about the interviews:

Introductory Letter:

I am a seasoned academic librarian doing research in the field of Science & Technology Studies (STS).  And I need your help. I have chosen SciPlore as my research object because of its brilliant combination of functionalities for academics.  However, according to STS theory, it is not brilliant functionality that changes society; functionality cannot even really be brilliant on its own.  It is brilliant use of functionality that counts.

I think the people at SciPlore would agree.  Perhaps their secret is that they are not really concerned with creating software at all.  They are concerned with facilitating your brilliant uses for evolving functionalities.  That means that for me to understand SciPlore I need to understand how you are using it.  Data on downloads and clicks, luckily enough for us humans, is not enough.

Academic institutions allow researchers enormous freedom in managing their personal libraries. Okay, perhaps there is a little neglect mixed in with the freedom, but either way you have undoubtedly fostered a rich information ecology on your personal computer.  And you use SciPlore, which offers practical and logical functionality for managing and wrestling with ideas and texts in a digital environment.  Much of this meaningful work is hidden, black boxed, while you work independently at your personal computer. It would be a great privilege for me and I believe of benefit for SciPlore to be able to conduct telephone interviews with active SciPlore users.  Look under the proverbial hood so to speak.  Who knows, it may even help you clarify some things for yourself.

Hilah Geer


Details about the study

About me:

I am been a librarian since the early 90s.  I have worked at MIT, Harvard Business School, and a consulting firm in Berkeley, California among other places.  Most recently I have moved to Norway and am the head librarian at the Oslo School of Management.  I am exploring the field of Science & Technology Studies as a means of getting a better grasp on the role technology plays in my work.  I would very much appreciate your help!

About the interviews:

Who will be interviewed: Anyone who is working in an academic/research environment who uses SciPlore to any extent with any regularity is valuable to my research.  I will be interviewing as many of you as possible.

How will they be conducted: I personally will be conducting all of the interviews.  They will be done either on Skype or via telephone.  They will take 30 minutes.  I will be more than willing to go more in depth if the interviewee is interested.  Otherwise, I will protect your time and stick to 30 minutes.

What will they include:  first I will want to gather standardized information:  demographics, field of study, institution(s), hardware, software, and networked resources.  Then I will have a series of questions to steer a discussion of how you use SciPlore and why.

When: The main interview period will be between May 2. and June 24 (There is a degree of flexibility as regards dates).  I will be available for interviews on weekends but weekdays are preferable.

Conditions: Of course the results of the interviews will be made entirely anonymous.  Upon arrangement of the interviews you will be given a signed terms of agreement that you can choose to alter if you wish.  All processed anonymous data will be shared with SciPlore, unless requested otherwise.

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