Pokémon Does NOT Cause Cancer

johnconIt's a special year for both JohnCon and Pokémon -- they are both 20 years old! As one HopSFA leader commented, "Pokémon will be old enough to drink in Japan."

In 1996, while he was working for Nintendo, Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon. When he was young he collected insects; inspired by this hobby, he created a land inhabited by almost 500 species of creatures (the basic translation of the name is a combination of "pocket" and "monster," and thank you, Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife).

Here's a book about the business side of Pokémon, too, and of course, the "official Pokémon channel"!

And no, Pokémon does not cause cancer, even though there's a family of oncogenes (genes that can contribute to the development of cancer) named "Pokemon" (*without* the accent). The company was quite unhappy about this, as you can imagine. Eventually, the researcher and his institution stopped using the name, but PubMed still lists almost 60 articles with the word in their titles, the most recent only two months ago.

This year, JohnCon will be celebrating its own 20th birthday as well as that of Pokémon. Please join us for movies, gaming, vendors, and more.

  • Levering Hall
  • Friday evening, April 1, continuously THROUGH Sunday evening, April 3 

She said/he said: great quotes from books

red-love-heart-typographyBeing a librarian, it might seem ironic that I have very little time for leisure reading. When I do find the time, I usually read on a kindle or from books checked out from my local public library. I either jot down quotes I like or highlight them on my Kindle. Here are some favorite recent quotes from books I’ve read that stood out to me.

“Creating pull is about mastering the skills required to drive our own learning; it’s about how to recognize and manage our resistance, how to engage in feedback conversations with confidence and curiosity, and even when the feedback seems wrong, how to find insight that might help us grow.”
-Douglas Stone, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

“Those who feel lovable, who love, and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. I often say that Wholeheartedness is like the North Star: We never really arrive, but we certainly know if we're headed in the right direction.”
-Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

“Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.”
-Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Watching white moon face
The stars never feel anger
Blah, blah, blah, the end”
-Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

So, while I check out a lot of my personal reading from the public library near where I live, the JHU libraries have a lot of cool books, videos, and other media. Taking "Fight Club" as an example, we have the printed book you can check out, the online book you can read from on or off-campus, and also the film version.  One of the few books that I liked equally in both book and cinema formats.

But that's not all, the library also has streaming documentary videos that are extremely high quality, such as Chuck Palahniuk: fight club, choke and invisible monsters. These few examples don't include books and articles about the book, like this and this. I guess all this is to say that the library has many great resources both in print and online, whether you're reading for scholarly or personal reasons. What have you read recently that you absolutely loved?




Can We Discourage Violations of Academic Integrity?

Guest blogger: Macie Hall, from the CER's Innovative Instructor.

It’s been some time since The Innovative Instructor looked at issues of academic integrity [see Discouraging Cheating in the Classroom, November 13, 2012], but a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, In a Fake Online Class With Students Paid to Cheat, Could Professors Catch the Culprits?, December 22, 2015, stimulated discussion among my colleagues. Although this study involved an online class, the implications are far-reaching. Even in face-to-face classes students can avail themselves of these for fee services that supply research papers that will pass through plagiarism detectors and provide answers to other types of assignments. In the face of such egregious practices, what can faculty do to encourage students to be honest?

StudentsCheatingIn smaller classes, where the instructor can to get to know the students as individuals, and course work is centered on in-class discussion, there may be fewer opportunities for violations of academic integrity. In these classes, however, writing often plays a big role and plagiarism, intentional or not, can be an issue. In Designing Activities and Assignments to Discourage Plagiarism, Alice Robison, Bonnie K. Smith suggest some strategies for instructors of writing intensive courses.

For mid-size classes, pedagogical interventions, such as flipping a class (see previous posts here, here, here, and here) can be productive if in-class problem solving, group work, and experiential activities are emphasized. These innovations can be time-consuming for an instructor to implement, however, and if the class size is large, it may not be possible to follow a flipped class or hybrid model.

Large classes can present greater challenges, particularly if testing is the focus for student assessment. There are a number of academic websites with resources for dealing with preventing cheating on tests, for example the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offers a tip sheet on Dealing with Cheating. Stanford’s Tomorrow’s Professor, offers a post on (Cheating) Prevention Techniques for Tests, based on three principles: “1) Affirm the importance of academic integrity; 20 Reduce opportunities to engage in academic dishonesty; and 3) Develop fair and relevant tests (and/or forms of assessment).”

In all cases, the best results come when colleges and universities establish a strong institutional culture of academic integrity.  This was the subject of the 2012 post. It’s worth repeating the citation of the University of North Carolina’s Center for Faculty Excellence’s blog, CFE 100+ Tips for Teaching Large Classes, article Tip #27: Discourage Cheating by Providing Moral Reminders and Logistical Obstacles.

Do you have suggestions for encouraging ethical behavior? As always, we welcome your comments.

A Festival of Edible Books? Preposterous!

17003509295_bb8e48920f_oNow is the time to grab a spatula and let out a primal scream for Read It and Eat It, our third annual edible book festival, is nigh! Our promotion of literacy and gluttony and whimsy will occur in the Glass Pavilion on March 31st from noon – 2:30. Did I mention eating cake? Because you get to eat cake!

Last year’s festival featured existential dilemmas, a watery grave, and the untimely collapse of The Cat in the Hat’s hat. Who knows what culinary mischief lies in the hearts of this year’s baking champions?

As is tradition, prizes will be awarded by popular vote in the following categories: most delicious dessert, funniest dessert, best effort, and overall best in show. Golly gumdrops, do we have prizes! Fancy a dinner at The Brewer's Art or The Food Market? Care to see a show at the Everyman Theater or Chesapeake Shakespeare Company? Then you have to bake to win!

Ready to register? Then do so quickly. The deadline to enter a cake is 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 29.  Need some inspiration? Follow our sugary crumbs to tumblr or  Pinterest to gain inspiration from cakes of years past!

Art History Teaching Resources: Not Just for Art Historians

Guest blogger: Macie Hall, from the CER's Innovative Instructor.

AHTR-screenshotThe first week in February, I attended the annual College Art Association conference in Washington, DC and co-chaired a panel titled Rethinking Online Pedagogies for Art History. In an era where higher education teaching and learning are being re-examined, and our institutions are pushing faculty to adopt innovative instructional practices, instructors may find themselves at a loss. It’s great to hear about online teaching, flipped classrooms, exciting apps that will engage students, but how exactly does one go about implementing these new strategies? Our approach for the panel was to showcase ideas and tools for teaching art history by having the speakers introduce innovative approaches, with a focus on key takeaways that could be adapted to an individual’s teaching practices. The topics included using peer assessment, student authorship of course content, gaming, e-portfolios, using Omeka,Neatline, and Voicethread, building an app and a website for an onsite course, and a presentation from Art History Teaching Resources, AHTR.

The great thing about AHTR is that it is a resource that has value for art historians, instructors in other humanities disciplines and beyond.  Some of the content is general, for example, the Library of Pedagogy has descriptions of texts that will be applicable to those teaching in any humanities discipline, as well as general books on teaching practices. A section on Syllabi/Assignments/Rubrics includes models, templates, and advice that can be easily adapted to other subjects.

Scan the blog posts in the ATRH Weekly. Posts on Slow Teaching, Field Notes from an Experiment in Student-Centered Pedagogy, and Pedagogy through Observation caught my eye as being broad-based in their application. And finally, if you are interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) or want to know more about it, check out What is SoTL?, an article that will be informative whether you are in the humanities, social sciences, or STEM disciplines.

A Modern Doctor with Many Fields

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevensnodgrass/8186327941/in/photolist-dtp56c-jQfrn-6FtcMU-nCCA7-4UJAPt-74za7L-51e6vs-jTAUc-6j8x4v-4HagKT-jTqk5-nu4JV-9tVjaN-5AZhfv-r48VyF-jT3Ts-qn9NE-jRzKg-7xzo3C-4UJAsp-8fJQBW-5tGhGa-7CiF5Q-jQt3Y-78ArnE-6jcJ7q-6G7cPk-auemA2-6YcoAD-4eLWKv-3KztHA-fetWw4-6Cr6SE-feJ9zw-jT3bK-aMjLPH-FUrPX-nGN23-5JG8mi-pjbApK-pj9Ew3-p2GqNK-p2FDvJ-p2GqC4-37JgrX-x3xs87-nuob6-8yvsWU-cvrn7o-nC5suThe next speaker in the JHU Conversations in Medicine series is Dr. Cindy Sears.

Dr. Sears is a Hopkins Professor of Medicine, Oncology, and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Yet her earliest PubMed article was "The Effectiveness of a Consultation" (American Journal of Medicine; 1983). She and her coauthors analyzed medical consultations to find out how many of the doctor’s initial recommendations for the patient were actually done. They found that "[c]ompliance decreased as the number of recommendations increased. …Compliance was higher when five or fewer recommendations were made.” [emphasis mine]

Her most recent article, published in January of this year, is listed by EMBASE as “in press” with the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. It concerns the relationship among gut microbiota, dietary nutrients, and cardiovascular disease. She and her colleagues are examining whether HIV-infected men have higher rates of coronary artery stenosis due to the presence of a chemical that is initiated by one’s gut microbiota. There's a multidisciplinary topic for you.

Read more about about her research (scroll down). Obviously, Dr. Sears has studied several quite different aspects of medicine during her journey to becoming a Modern Doctor.

Where:  Charles Commons Ballroom
When:  Monday, March 7, 2016, at 7:00 PM


Materials Science in Paper Conservation, History, and Literature: The Gulistan of Sa’di

Gulistan or Goléstan-e  (The Rose Garden) was written in 1258 CE by a Persian poet whose pen name was Sa’di. The book is comprised of a mixture of poetry and prose and contains a number of intricate paintings.  The text is written in Persian, the official language of the Mughal court, and has incorporated aspects of Sufi teachings, whose “followers seek to find divine truth through direct encounters with God.”  It is considered one of the most influential pieces of Persian literary works.

GulistanOfSaDiThe Sheridan Library possesses a copy of The Gulistan of Sa’di that was estimated to be printed in Iran during the 18th century to 19th century. This manuscript was written on paper rather than parchment, and the paper is believed to be made of plant fiber pulp.  “There is less of an historical record of Islamic bindings than Western European bindings,” says Jennifer Jarvis, Paper Conservator from the Department of Conservation and Preservation, “and therefore the exact age of this manuscript is not known.”

In order to more accurately date the manuscript and develop conservation and preservation directions, Jennifer Jarvis worked with the Materials Characterization class taught by Professor Patty McGuiggan from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in order to determine the composition of the gold colored pigment.

Using a tiny pigment fragment from the border, undergraduate engineering students Walter Duan, Polly Ma, and Yunchan Chen used a series of characterization techniques including optical microscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, Scanning electron microscopy with elemental analysis and AFM, the students identified that the gold pigment is made of a Cu-Zn alloy (brass).   By atomic composition, copper constitutes 85% of the alloy and zinc 15%. Similar compositions are often used in jewelry making, and the metallic, shiny color of this alloy makes it a good imitation for gold.  The measurements also showed that the alloy was first made into powder and dispersed in a solvent before it was applied to the paper.

For more information, contact

Jennifer Jarvis:  jjarvis9@jhu.edu

Patty McGuiggan:  mcguiggan@jhu.edu

Top 100 papers as measured by Altmetric

altmetricscoreJHULast March I blogged about altmetrics – how many times a journal article is mentioned in social media and news outlets. There are several companies that perform this work, but Altmetric publishes a list of the top 100 articles for the past year, as measured by them.

They offer an interesting look at the articles folks were tweeting, blogging, and writing about in the news. Their site lets you filter the list by institution, country, subject, journal, access, and Altmetric score.

JHU has 6 articles listed; 5 under Johns Hopkins University and 1 as Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Let’s look at the most highly rated JHU article, number 4: Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions. It has an Altmetric score of 2,340! Yowza!

This page details all the places Altmetric found mentions of this article. Their search includes:

  • News outlets - multiple languages
  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Peer reviews - New post-publication peer review opportunities were mentioned here previously
  • Weibo - the major social network in China
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia - references by Wikipedia articles
  • Google+

Take a look through all of them. It’s easy to see why these articles caught people’s attention.

#6 - How much plastic is in the ocean?
#16 - Does kissing change the microbes in your mouth?
#24 - Is there a relationship between playing sexist video games and being sexist?
#41 - Is there a relationship between illness and sitting still?
#46 - What’s the range for human penis size?
#91 - Does music relieve post-operative pain?

Top 5 Ways Libraries & Librarians Can Help You

8643067513_8e9f49d1e8_z"Libraries are repositories of books, music and documents, but above all of nostalgia: the musty stacks, the unexpected finds, the safety and pleasure of a place that welcomes and shelters unconditionally." - Washington Post

Guilty library confession: I use Google multiple times per day. I also use it during reference searches...why? Because it's immediate; because full-text articles are often linked to Google when on campus; because even if it's not the right answer, it is an answer; and to verify or figure out some little bit of information I need. Like last week when looking up some law firm rankings, but the law firm name had been misspelled. Makes it hard to find rankings with incorrect information from the get go.

But all that said, here are 5 compelling reasons libraries remain relevant:

5. Not Everything is Available on the Internet. While an amazing amount of useful information is available online, not everything can be found there. Google Books has taken on the huge task of digitizing millions of books from the world's largest libraries, however contemporary authors and publishers may not permit their works to be available for free on the Internet. It is already prohibited by copyright law to make books in copyright fully accessible via Google Book Search. Libraries license numerous academic research journals, databases, ebooks, and other material that are usually inaccessible to someone looking to find that same content freely available on the Internet.

4. Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores. There have been studies showing that students who frequent well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up with higher ACT scores and perform better on reading and writing exams. A 2005 Illinois School Libraries study shows that students who have "high schools with computers that connect to library catalogs and databases average 6.2 percent improvement on ACT Scores." Some articles have suggested that academic libraries improve student retention, that leads us to #3...we can help save you time!

3. Academic Librarians Save You Time. The Sheridan Libraries has subject specialists in many disciplines to help you jump-start your research process. Starting a paper or a project and not sure where to start? Librarians at JHU have created guides that can help you get started no matter where you are...Many guides offer links to core online resources for the subject the guide is about, which can help you get a quick handle on what core databases might be most relevant for you. If you spend more than a few minutes searching and can't find what you're looking for, contact your librarian. We're more than happy to help. If you're not in the library, you can also ask us on our library website.

2. Physical Libraries Adapt to Your Needs. While some from outside libraries might find this surprising, it is very true. The Sheridan Libraries added student-centered space in the Brody Learning Commons - a great space for collaborating, group study, filled with lots of student-selected furniture. You can also reserve a group study online. The MSE Library will also under go a much needed renovation in coming years. Work has already been underway to help us understand more about your research and scholarship needs, a recent example is the visual International Scholarly Communication Survey about research tools.

And, the number 1 way Libraries and Librarians can help you is...

1. Librarians Promote Critical Thinking and Encourage Patrons to Create Content. Librarians know that are students and researchers are not just passive consumers of information - they produce information. Students and researchers use the library to obtain knowledge in order to create their own and new independent works. Our librarians teach classes, guide students through the research process, and have helped students create online journals, edit Wikipedia articles, and helped jump start students' working on group projects.

I still and always will use Google, and there's nothing wrong with that, but hopefully this  gives you a few ideas on how libraries and librarians might be able (and are very happy) to help you.


Adventures in TAPPI

TAPPIHello from the basement of the Brody Learning Commons!  This is our first contribution to the blog.  We are the Heritage Science for Conservation Program housed within the Conservation Department.  We research the deterioration and conservation of materials housed within JHU’s Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

Today we thought we would introduce you both to us, and to a unique facility that is housed on the basement level of the BLC.  This is our TAPPI* room.  This room produces a tightly-controlled and monitored environment that allows us to conduct physical testing on paper.   As the weather outside and even inside the BLC changes drastically all year round, the weather in the TAPPI room stays at a constant 23°C ± 1°C (73.4°F ± 1.8°F) and 50% ± 2% relative humidity.  This allows us to measure the behavior of paper under the same conditions all year.

To learn more about the Heritage Science for Conservation Program visit:  http://bit.ly/14trtep

Contact: Molly McGath mmcgath1@jhu.edu

Andrea Hall ahall59@jhu.edu

Sara Zaccaron szaccar1@jhu.edu

*TAPPI is an acronym that stands for Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, a non- profit that creates many standards for the measurement of pulp and paper behavior.  For more on TAPPI see: http://www.tappi.org/