Saturday, April 28, 2007

A minor rant

Despite all my complaints about being too busy, it seems that I just keep taking on other projects. You know, projects that get done in my "spare time". Remember that? Thought not.

Anyway, the latest requires digging through a large amount of scientific literature looking for articles on a certain topic, then summarizing the findings in an easily-digestible format. No problem. It's a lot of reading (a couple of hundred articles, of an average of about eight pages each), but I take a 45-minute bus ride to and from work every day, so that makes over seven hours a week I can dedicate to reading this stuff. Easy.

However (and here comes the rant-y part)... although I can easily look up scientific articles on the mighty PubMed database, which life scientists of all stripes use all the time, and I can stay on top of new ones that might not have made their way into PubMed yet via RSS (and I thank Black Knight for hooking me up there), I still have to go to the journal sites (or in some cases, repositories of multiple journals) and download the individual articles. Which would be fine, if all journals had one of these: You see? If you know the volume and page number, you just type 'em in, and bingo! you have the article you want all tied up in a shiny PDF wrapper just a-waiting for you to read it.

The alternative, unfortunately, is that most journals just have an ugly front page with a huge list of back issues, which you have to browse through to find the article you want. This gets to be a problem when the issue you want is several years old and sitting on the fourth or fifth screen of available issues. I can't even begin to imagine how much time I've wasted used up simply navigating around these things.

So - a plea to all scientific journals, everywhere. Take a leaf out of Science's book, and put a little search box on the front page. Please. It will make my life easier.

And you thought that I only complain about trivial things.


The Wrath of Dawn said...

And another pet peeve about websites in general - so many do not have an easily locatable phone/fax/street address. Not everything can be done by email. And an easily findable, up-to-date staff listing? Is that too much to ask, people? I think not! (Said she who maintains such things on behalf of her employer, so she KNOWS it can be done.)

zoe said...

and another pet peeve of mine is when the entire european commission decides to change their email addresses. at first, if you used the old email address it would get forwarded. not any more.

and then the european parliament followed suit. have you any idea how many of those addresses are in our database ?

a lot.

Ricardipus said...

Ok, I'll agree with both of those and add "local subsidiary of multinational corporation" and "recently acquired company" to the list.

Can you find contact information for either of these in among the top-level corporate website? I think not.