Skip to main content

Stories by Bonnie Swoger

On Girl Scouts, glaciers, and great women

When most folks think about Girl Scouts, they think about cookies. I love the cookies (peanut butter patties are my favorite) but thinking about Girl Scouts brings to my mind calculus, the glacial border region of Western New York, and the friendships I shared with a remarkable group of women who have all gone on to have successful careers in science and engineering fields.I was a Girl Scout for twelve years...

March 21, 2013 — Bonnie Swoger

Good news about sharing scientific research

Last week, the Obama administration issued a directive declaring that scientists have to share the results of their taxpayer funded research. I was happy to hear this, as I have always been a big advocate of sharing (well, my little sister might disagree with the "always" part, but you know what i mean)...

February 28, 2013 — Bonnie Swoger

Providing context for the metrics used to evaluate the scientific literature

As the sole science librarian at a small liberal arts college, I work with faculty and students in a variety of disciplines. This means that I need to understand the literature of those disciplines, and understanding the literature means knowing at least a little bit about the metrics that are used to measure it: impact factors, h-indexes and altmetrics can all be interesting and useful, but establishing context can be difficult.For example, is an h-index of 9 good, bad or indifferent?...

February 13, 2013 — Bonnie Swoger

On Identifiers: DOI, ISBN, CASRN, SSN, ISSN, etc.

Over the course of my life I have gone by many names: Ba Ba (early childhood nickname given to me by a younger sister learning to talk), Beege (my grandma calls me this, I'm never quite sure how to spell it), Bonnie, Red (a camp nickname), BONNIE JEAN MULLER (when my parents were angry at me), Bonnie Muller, Bonnie Swoger, etc...

February 7, 2013 — Bonnie Swoger

When journal articles are hard to find

This post is a re-worked and updated version of a post that appeared on my blog, the Undergraduate Science Librarian, in October 2011. One of the most fun sciencey things I've seen lately is the #overlyhonestmethods meme on twitter...

January 16, 2013 — Bonnie Swoger

What is metadata? A Christmas themed exploration.

When I talk to most scientists and mention the word "metadata" they look at me as if I've grown a second head. Despite the fact that these folks regularly use and create metadata (not to be confused with megadata or "big data" which is a whole other subject), many have not heard of the term.Broadly speaking, metadata is simply a structured description of something else...

December 17, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Managing Personal Knowledge, Data and Information

For some reason Christmas time makes me think about personal knowledge/information management. Perhaps it comes from the quest to track down the list of Christmas card addresses (did they move?...

December 10, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Making implicit knowledge and skills more explicit in science education

One of the reasons I love being a librarian is that I have an opportunity to do many different things as a part of my job. At the recent Geological Society of America conference I had a chance to wear many hats: advisor to an undergraduate giving a talk, librarian looking at possible books to purchase and strategies for teaching students about the scientific literature, editor of a society newsletter, and occasional instructor of an introductory geoscience course.One of the recurring themes of this conference, no matter which hat I was wearing, was the need to make certain skills and concepts that are implicit to one group of folks much more concrete and explicit to another group of folks...

November 29, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Small professional societies and open access

In the past, I have written about what I want as a user of information from tiny scholarly societies. This week, I'm thinking a lot about what I want as a member of a tiny scholarly society, the Geoscience Information Society (GSIS).GSIS is a very small scholarly society made up of librarians who work with geoscientists, mostly at academic institutions.GSIS is responsible for two major publications: the society newsletter and the more scholarly GSIS Proceedings ...

November 6, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Pay it forward and paying tribute: talking to undergraduates at my alma mater

Last weekend I had the supreme pleasure of spending the weekend at my alma mater, St. Lawrence University. I returned for the 8th St. Lawrence University Geology Alumni Conference, a gathering of faculty, students and alumni to talk about grad school, careers in geology and drink beer.The primary goal is to "pay it forward" by talking with undergraduates...

October 12, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Why are journals so expensive?

This morning, at minute 48 of a 50 minute information literacy session for an introductory biology class, a student asked me one of those seemingly innocuous questions, "Why are journals so expensive?" We had spend the past 45 minutes talking about the scientific literature: what is peer review, what is a primary research article, and what happens after an article is published...

September 26, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Easing the burden of multiple citation styles

I love almost everything about my job as a science librarian at a primarily undergraduate college. The one exception is when I am called upon to teach students how to format their citations for the Reference list at the end of their papers.I really dislike formatting citations...

September 14, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

What I want from tiny publisher websites

Do you belong to a tiny scholarly society? The kind that has just a few hundred members and no paid staff? Do you publish something? A newsletter, conference proceedings or a small journal?Well, listen up, because I have a few suggestions based on some recent frustrating experiences.I understand that as a tiny society, you can't afford professional web development like Elsevier or Springer or ACS...

August 17, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

The (mostly true) origins of the scientific journal

Thursday 26th July saw the launch of, a new English language science blog network., the brand-new home for Nature Network bloggers, forms part of the SciLogs international collection of blogs which already exist in German, Spanish and Dutch...

July 27, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

How to classify science news stories?

This summer, I taught an introductory geology summer school class, heading back to my academic roots. Throughout the six week class, I asked my students to find a news story or blog post each week related to some aspect of geology from credible sources...

July 12, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

But peer review isn't perfect

In my last post, I made the argument that peer review makes science better. Every article is reviewed by at least a couple of experts prior to publication, and this helps prevent really bad science from appearing alongside the good stuff...

June 22, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Peer review makes science better

Part of what makes the process of science so interesting is the part where scientists invite criticism. It's right there in the scientific method, in the part where we have to see if other experiments confirm original results...

June 14, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger

Take a stand for public access to taxpayer funded research

In my first post here at Information Culture , I made the argument that in order for science to progress, the results of scientific studies must be shared with others.One of the challenges facing scientists in the modern world is that this research is typically published in journals that individuals and libraries must pay to access, sometimes at exorbitant rates...

May 21, 2012 — Bonnie Swoger
Scroll To Top

Dwindling Supply. Increasing Demand.

Dwindling Supply. Increasing Demand.

Solving the Water Crisis