|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 Scholar.Google.com 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.