Tools for visualisation of citation networks – looking at Bainite literature

VOSviewer and CiteNetExplorer are a couple of tools for analysing and visualising patterns in scientific literature. These tools are freely available to use and distribute java programs (working on Windows, MacOS and Linux for example) written by researchers at Leiden University.

To get going, first we do a search on web of science, then download data as a list of “Full Record and Cited References” as a Tab-delimited file, in blocks of 500 entries (manually select to download record 1-500, 501-1000, etc. Then these files can be opened in both VOSviewer and CiteNetExplorer. For example I conducted a search on the topic “Bainite”.

Now we have beautiful graphs that identify key papers in a field.

Criteria for weighting the links in the network, or grouping the publications, and how to represent the results can all be changed depending on the data being explored.


British library Oral History Collection

Harry Bhadeshia fans shouldn’t overlook this important resource:

Harry Bhadeshia – Oral history of British science

Harry Bhadeshia British Library

Harry Bhadeshia British Library

Information, Inference and Energy — everything is connected

A symposium to celebrate the work of Professor Sir David MacKay FRS. The meeting was held over the period 14-15 March 2016, at the University of Cambridge.


Screenshot from 2016-04-16 23:28:54

Organising my collection of books using open source software

Moving some books around at home I decided I really needed to have a list or some sort of rudimentary database… maybe a project for mysql. But then I thought, hand on a minute, this must be a common problem, there are probably several open source programs to do this…

A brief search and I had a list of contenders by searching the web… something like this but not quite.

Software like gcstar and tellico are relatively light weight programs specialised for collection management… more advanced software for running a library with many borrowers is also available in the form of open source library management packages. A list of many useful programs for library management of various sizes is available here: . In contrast the collection management programs allow easy customisation, as well as templates for managing your collections of films, books, articles, music, guitar pedals (link to video) etc.

I opted to try gcstar and tellico, both being available in the repositories of the linux version I use (debian GNU/linux it’s the official linux distribution of the free software foundation). First up was gcstar, I installed from debian repositories and then performed update with ‘gcstar -u’ this downloaded updates to /usr/local which seemed to work, I hit a problem when trying to add the first book. There seemed to be no where to enter isbn for search, and trying to retrieved information for the first book just carried on searching without getting back any information.

gcstar failing to work for me

gcstar failing to work for me

Next up was tellico which worked. This was a really useful program for searching for details of my books. It can search various databases for details of each book, including the library of congress which is useful for some older books. I now have the majority of my academic books stored in a .tc file which can be exported to various formats (XML, gcstar, HTML, csv, etc). Both of these applications are designed for managing generic collections, so the fields can be customised to suit the needs of your collection (whatever it is), there are features to record lending of items, or price, etc.

Using Tellico to search collection (left) and search online databases for book details (right)

Using Tellico

I was really happy to find the tellico project, it met my needs at least as far as creating an index of my books, it usually takes less than a minute to add the details of each new book to the list, with most of the time spent trying to find where the ISBN is printed if it’s available.

Accessing Papers from University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge news feed had notified about the new use of Raven Passwords to access electronic resources.

The ATHENS system of controlling access to networked services has been centrally funded as a national service for many years. That funding is being withdrawn by the JISC in favour of national Federated Access Control based on local user login.

ATHENS handles around 3 million users and 250 online services but it is a purely UK solution to providing access to remote services. The JISC have established that a
Federated solution using open source software and international standards will lead to a Single Sign On system with an individual using their institutional login to use both national and local services. This will also tie in with strategies for e-learning and e-science.

Raven is the web authentication system administered by University of Cambridge Computing Service.