Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Search Challenge (4/8/15): Can you find the reference for...

Card catalog at the Library of Congress, 1942

One of the things... 
I find myself doing as I do my real, daily, research work can be loosely thought of as "tracking down the citation for something I remember imperfectly..."  

You know how it is--you read something once, and then later you need to find that thing again.  Typically, it's a result I read somewhere / sometime... and the Challenge is to work from What-I-Remember towards the original paper or article that I read.  

But here's the problem: As we know, human memory is pretty leaky.  Things are often incorrectly remembered or only dimly recalled.  So we're faced with the problem of searching the real world for the original work that is only faintly remembered.  

This is exactly what research librarians are faced with all the time.  A researcher comes into the library and asks "Can you find the reference for..."  They then proceed to describe what they remember about the result, leaving you to figure out the rest.  

I'm guessing that I spend at least 10% of my week doing this kind of thing.  It's a really handy skill to have if you're a professional researcher, writer, or someone who's interested in getting the details right.  

This week's Challenge is two of my recent "Research questions of the hard kind..."  Can you figure out the citations for each? 

1.  Can you find the reference for.... A paper I once read that claimed "the probability of a reader reading a book in the library was a function of the distance of that book from the library catalog."   
As you can tell, this research was done a while ago (back when library science papers were measuring book access in terms of card catalog distances).  I haven't had any luck finding the original paper that made this claim.  Can you?  What's the citation?  
2.  Can you find the reference for....  A paper I read, I believe it was by Alan Newell, about the "three time bands of human cognition."  The idea in that paper was that Newell claimed that there are 3 different time scales at which cognition can be studied.  One was millisecond-by-millisecond, another was minute-by-minute, and the other was day-by-day.  Can you find this reference? 

Obviously, the Challenge here is to figure out the reference despite mis-rememberings and errors in what I've told you.  For example, the Newell paper might not actually say "three time bands of human cognition," but could actually say something quite different.  

Still, the key idea should be clear; once you find the original citation, it should be obvious that THIS is the original paper that was intended.  

Warning:  I know the answer to Challenge #2.  I do NOT know the answer to Challenge #1, although I'm pretty sure I can find it. 

As always, when you find the answers, please tell us HOW you found the results.  

Hints:  Remember that is probably a good friend to you for searches like this.  But don't limit yourself to that--there are other collections that might also be useful to search.  

Search on! 


  1. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [three parts human cognition newell]

    [human cognition study parts Newell]

    ["Allen Newell" Cognitive architecture intext:Millisecond]

    ["Allen Newell"]...Much more changing parts of these queries.

    [newell time scale cognition]

    The task of bridging this gap is analyzed in terms
    of Newell’s (1990) bands of cognition—the Biological, Cognitive, Rational, and Social Bands

    [newell bands of cognition]

    ["Allen Newell" bands of cognition] Google Scholar

    Unified Theories of Cognition By Allen Newell

    Question 1. Still trying.


    United Theories of Cognition by Allen Newell

    From Spanning seven orders of magnitude: a challenge for
    cognitive modeling John R. Anderson* : Newell’s rendition of the four bands of cognition—the Biological, the
    Cognitive, the Rational, and the Social. As the table indicates each successive band captures
    the human experience at roughly 3 orders of magnitude greater than the previous.

    1. Q1. No Reference Yet.

      In Google Scholar. For example:

      [reading books library factors]
      [library catalog distance AROUND(3) "Book reading"]
      [book reading intext:"catalog distance"]

      ["library science papers"] No answer but "The Relationship between Time Lag and Place of Publication in" Library and Information Science Abstracts and Library Literature" looks very interesting.

      [probability reading book library]
      [probability reading book | selection book library]
      [effect of distance selecting book libraries]

      Q2 citation: Newell, Allen. Unified theories of cognition. Harvard University Press, 1994.

  2. started here:
    MIT/Citing sources: Overview
    How to Solve It (1945), George Pólya, Heuristics

    …tried to stick with simple searches…
    #1: used [measuring book access in terms of card catalog distances paper]
    David C. Weber, July, 1967,Book Catalog Trends in 1966*
    #2: used [cognition scales time]
    Time scales in cognitive neuroscience, David Papo, Published online 2013 Apr 19., NIH
    #2 alt: used [cognition One was millisecond-by-millisecond, another was minute-by-minute, and the other was day-by-day.] — think this is it.
    Information Foraging Theory:Adaptive Interaction with Information, Peter Pirolli, cites Newell… uses "Information foraging"— term used in your blog header…
    [Newell’s (1990) bands of cognition]
    Unified Theories of Cognition by Allen Newell

    not being a ref librarian, I seek diversion… thinking at increased decibel level…
    comic relief > COMIC RELI…, still 2015 Apr 8
    related to the above, friend-o.

    fwiw: am giving one tab a whirl for some things - thanks for the tip Fred.
    one tab/image in this challenge/last week

  3. Second try to send:

    Searh [scales of cognition newall] top of the results is:

    Time Scales in Motor Learning and Development
    Page 64 quoting Luce 71: analysis of the
    organism that can occur over even shorter real time scales of hours,
    minutes, and even fractions of a second

    This article is cited 122 times

    Challenge 1 is a challenge

    Jon tU

  4. Here's my google doc for Question 2.

  5. Dr. Russell, Is this what you are looking for:
    Library economic metrics: Examples of the comparison of electronic and print journal collections and collection services.
    Donald W. King, Peter B. Boyce, Carol Hansen Montgomery, Carol Tenopir:
    Library Trends 51(3) (2003)
    On page 392:
    One indicator of print collection effectiveness is the proximity of the collection to readers (i.e., its accessibility). Every survey we have done comparing distance (in minutes) of readers to the print collection shows the overall use of the library, use of its journal collection, and amount of reading are inversely correlated with the distance to the library. That is, those closer have higher use, although it is found that readers further away from the collection tend to read more when they do visit the library. Evidence of the effect of distance on reading is as follows:
    - 66 percent of the readings are from library print collections when the readers are less than five minutes away;
    - 48 percent of readings are from there when five-to-ten-minutes away; and
    - 34 percent of readings are from there when over ten minutes away

    Google Scholar search [distance reading a book in the library probability library catalog ext:pdf]

    1. This is a very good reference, Hans, and quite close to what I seek. In particular, I'm looking for a paper that shows this same result with a quantified measurement. In particular, that the probability of access varies as the cube of the distance from the base.

      More to the point--this kind of amplification on the original problem spec is part of the natural process. The more you work on a problem, the more you understand what the Challenge is all about.

      Nice job. But there's more to find!

      (Also, can you tell us what your search process was? This is an excellent result: How did you get here?)

    2. I searched Google Scholar with the search statement: [distance reading a book in the library probability library catalog ext:pdf]

  6. Question 1 is difficult. I have found a couple papers such as "how the card catalog system works" from an inside point of view.

    And as well a paper relating to shelf location of books.

    Next I found a paper comparing online to conventional card system

    At this point I want to clarify... This paper was it related to researchers using the card catalog system or the more casual reader? And do you mean that the distance of card catalogs had a bearing on the success of finding the book? I am visualizing the researcher that would be quite familiar with how to use the card catalogs. They would do some research onsite never actually borrowing the book. They have a more vested interested as a researcher to find material.

    1. See my reply to Hans. As I recall, the original paper was about the use of a card catalog--and if I remember properly, it was about an academic library. My recollection was that successfully using the catalog wasn't the question, the issue was that the farther away the book location, the less likely it was to be accessed. (Which, when you think about it, shouldn't really be much of an issue, but apparently is!) In other words, even small incremental amounts of time tended to deter access.

    2. Correction on my second link [Shelf Classification Research - Past Present & Future]

      While this doesn’t give us the details we are searching for it has lots of references that may lead to the desired result.

    3. I went back to the beginning because I found myself trying to “hit the target” with the only tool that seemed plausible and that was to find the magic combination of keywords. But the truth is I don’t really know a lot about reference librarians.

      So this is what I queried [ science of library studies] & found wiki

      This provided a couple links such as The Library Quarterly

      and Library Trends

      I am about to search through the documents but I can see I have an issue. I still don’t know what my search keywords should be. These sites seem like a rich resource.

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    5. One more important link

    6. This is a modified repost of my posting on the weekend. Perhaps others posted as well.

      Thanks Kirk for that find. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to access the document with my existing accreditations.

      I hope Dr. Dan you will talk about a couple things that became much clearer to me doing this search. First is the use of keywords.
      We need a “Super Control F”. The ability to have multiple words (including unrelated) or even possibly vague words in the search that can be interpreted in the search box. If we had a Google Search Box within the document we would have more tools like I’ve already mentioned or more. Another thought is to have a way to draw out a keyword list out of a document. Nowadays we have keywords/tags for documents often attached. But historically they often don’t exist especially for journals/papers. Perhaps there are some tools that now exist. I am not sure this clears up my thinking but I hope so. This challenge got me thinking about how I do things & perhaps there are better ways. Can Google Search help us within a document?

      Second lesson for me is the use "references". Each time I looked/scanned at a document I would then scan the references at the end the article/book/paper.. I did this when others linked a document as well. With title & author we possibly had a lead but with this particular challenge vague keywords made this more difficult. I wonder how can we make the most out of these possible leads besides scanning each one.

    7. I gave it another go & while I didn’t find what I had hoped I did come to realize something about this challenge. The challenge is more about a concept than it is about specific words. Dr. Dan your recollection may be how you remembered it but not necessarily written in that context. As you said this is a good into to a reference interview.

      What I started to see was a concept - The Law of Least Effort. Here’s a link to one such reference

      J. Matthews says Page 36 “The Law of Least Effort is alive and well and operates in the physical library spaces”

      It makes sense that using this concept we can find elsewhere a reference to card catalogue location affecting people’s search efforts.

  7. This is a great discussion, and an example of a "reference interview." That is, when you go talk to the research librarian, they usually have a conversation about what you're seeking--that conversation is a clarification of your goals and to pull up additional details about the target so that the search is more likely to me successful.

    1. Dr. Russell, [ext:pd] that Hans used, works as filetype?

      Very interesting the answers and how we are finding them. And now we have new feature in Scholar: New! Install Scholar Button — Lookup papers as you browse.

      About past SearchResearch Challenges. Today I learned about Black Auroras. Pretty amazing and super interesting.

    2. Ramón, "ext:" is an undocumented -short- alias for "filetype:".

    3. First question in a reference interview: do you remember (a part of) the name of the author, or title or journal name?

    4. Thanks Hans.

      [reading book probability libraries] Google Scholar. Interesting readings but not the answer.

      [paper search engine] Google Search

      Other sources for papers and journals.

      Dr. Russell, do you remember something else that helps to find your reference?

  8. I was getting nowhere with this so I posted Challenge 1. to Project Wombat. I have been a Lurker here for years. Project Wombat is a discussion list for difficult reference questions intended for Reference Librarians to ask each other for help amongst there own kind. Lurkers like me are welcome to follow along and even ask questions and offer answers.

    We shall see what develops.

    Jon the Lurker

  9. Getting close:
    From P. 2
    "As paper-based systems become larger and more complex, their use becomes more and more timeconsuming.
    The physical separation of catalog from text and of user from both catalog and text
    increase. Distance to and within the library become greater. It may be necessary to wait to use
    what someone else is using. Reasons multiply why the elapsed time from initial impulse to
    completed use can be expected to be more and more protracted...."

  10. Dan, I think this is the article - it has a table of circulation by distance from the card catalog.
    Dwyer, J. R. (1979). Public response to an academic library microcatalog. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 5(3) Retrieved from

    I found it through LISA (Library and Information Science Abstracts) and read it in Ebsco Academic Search Premier. The abstract is in Google Scholar if you look for "distance from the card catalog" (although in LISA its spelled card catalogue) and there are 14 citations so it might be one of those instead.

    LIS Professional

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  13. Here is the abstract:

    "The University of Oregon has had its catalogue on microfiche since 1976, utilising a 'basic' or 'frozen' catalogue and supplements. Analyses clients' responses to the catalogue, considering such variables as microfiche use, academic status, and distance from the card catalogue. Card and fiche catalogues are compared with regard to ease of use and search speed. A high level of nonuse of the supplement emerges as the major problem hindering effective catalogue use and public acceptance. The principles of 'least effort' and 'parsimony of information' are verified, presenting implications to other librarians considering catalogue closure."