The ESO Survey of Non-Publishing Programmes [IMA]

One of the classic ways to measure the success of a scientific facility is the publication return, which is defined as the refereed papers produced per unit of allocated resources (for example, telescope time or proposals). The recent studies by Sterzik et al. (2015, 2016) have shown that 30-50 % of the programmes allocated time at ESO do not produce a refereed publication. While this may be inherent to the scientific process, this finding prompted further investigation. For this purpose, ESO conducted a Survey of Non-Publishing Programmes (SNPP) within the activities of the Time Allocation Working Group, a, similar to the monitoring campaign that was recently implemented at ALMA (Stoehr et al. 2016). The SNPP targeted 1278 programmes scheduled between ESO Periods 78 and 90 (October 2006 to March 2013) that had not published a refereed paper as of April 2016. The poll was launched on 6 May 2016, remained open for four weeks, and returned 965 valid responses. This article summarises and discusses the results of this survey, the first of its kind at ESO.

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F. Patat, H. Boffin, D. Bordelon, et. al.
Mon, 12 Feb 18

Comments: 10 pages, 4 figures, Appeared on The Messenger, 170, 51

Advice from the Oracle: Really Intelligent Information Retrieval [CL]

What is “intelligent” information retrieval? Essentially this is asking what is intelligence, in this article I will attempt to show some of the aspects of human intelligence, as related to information retrieval. I will do this by the device of a semi-imaginary Oracle. Every Observatory has an oracle, someone who is a distinguished scientist, has great administrative responsibilities, acts as mentor to a number of less senior people, and as trusted advisor to even the most accomplished scientists, and knows essentially everyone in the field. In an appendix I will present a brief summary of the Statistical Factor Space method for text indexing and retrieval, and indicate how it will be used in the Astrophysics Data System Abstract Service. 2018 Keywords: Personal Digital Assistant; Supervised Topic Models

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M. Kurtz
Thu, 4 Jan 2018

Comments: Author copy; published 25 years ago at the beginning of the Astrophysics Data System; 2018 keywords added

The Astrobiology of the Anthropocene [EPA]

Human influence on the biosphere has been evident at least since the development of widespread agriculture, and some stratigraphers have suggested that the activities of modern civilization indicate a geological epoch transition. The study of the anthropocene as a geological epoch, and its implication for the future of energy-intensive civilizations, is an emerging transdisciplinary field in which astrobiology can play a leading role. Habitability research of Earth, Mars, and exoplanets examines extreme cases relevant for understanding climate change as a planetary process. Energy-intensive civilizations will also face thermodynamic limits to growth, which provides an important constraint for estimating the longevity of human civilization and guiding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. We recommend that missions concepts such as LUVOIR, HabEx, and OST be pursued in order to make significant progress toward understanding the future evolution of life on our planet and the possible evolution of technological, energy-intensive life elsewhere in the universe.

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J. Haqq-Misra, S. Som, B. Mullan, et. al.
Wed, 3 Jan 2018

Comments: Comments welcome. This is a white paper on “Astrobiology Science Strategy” that will be submitted to the NAS on January 5

On the orientation of the historic churches of Lanzarote: when human necessity dominates over canonical prescriptions [CL]

We present the analysis of the measured orientations of 30 churches of the island of Lanzarote, in the Canarian archipelago, built prior to 1810, as well as a few buildings of later times, which represent a nearly complete sample of all the island’s Christian sanctuaries. Our study indicates that a definite orientation pattern was followed on the island but, unlike what is often found in most of the Christian world, it has two interpretations. On the one hand, the representative orientation to the east (or west) is present. However, the sample has also a marked orientation towards north-northeast which is, as far as we know, a pattern exclusive to Lanzarote. We discuss the reasons for this pattern and suggest that one possible explanation could be a rather prosaic one, namely, that sometimes needs of everyday life are more relevant than –and push individuals to make decisions at odds with– religious beliefs. This work is the beginning of the first systematic archaeoastronomical study ever conducted with old churches in the Canary Islands [abridged].

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A. Gangui, A. Garcia, M. Betancort, et. al.
Wed, 27 Dec 2017

Comments: Published in The Materiality of the Sky. Proceedings of the 22nd Annual SEAC Conference, 2014, Silva, F. et al (eds.), Lampeter: Sophia Centre Press, pp. 125-134, 2016

BIOSTIRLING-4SKA : A cost effective and efficient approach for a new generation of solar dish-Stirling plants based on storage and hybridization; An Energy demo project for Large Scale Infrastructures", [IMA]

The BIOSTIRLING – 4SKA (B4S) is a EU demonstration project dealing with the implementation of a cost-effective and efficient new generation of solar dish-Stirling plants based on hybridization and efficient storage at the industrial scale. The main goal of the B4S demonstration project is the generation of electric power using simultaneously solar power and gas to supply an isolated system and act as a scalable example of potential power supply for many infrastructures, including future sustainable large scientific infrastructures. B4S build an interdisciplinary approach to address reliability, maintainability and costs of this technology. In April 2017, B4S successfully tested in Portugal the first world Stirling hybrid system providing about 4kW of power to a phased array of antennas, overcoming challenges in Stirling and hybridization and smartgrid technologies. B4SKA Consortium, with fourteen companies from six European countries, has performed the engineering, construction, assembly and experimental exploitation, under contract signed with the European to develop on off-grid demonstrator in Contenda (Moura) Portugal.

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D. Barbosa, P. Andre, T. Paixao, et. al.
Mon, 11 Dec 17

Comments: 7 pages; 8 Figures; Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on Integration of Solar Power into Power Systems, 2C_5_SIW17_299, Ed. Uta Betancourt, Thomas Ackermann, Berlin, Germany, 24-25th October 2017

Comparing People with Bibliometrics [CL]

Bibliometric indicators, citation counts and/or download counts are increasingly being used to inform personnel decisions such as hiring or promotions. These statistics are very often misused. Here we provide a guide to the factors which should be considered when using these so-called quantitative measures to evaluate people. Rules of thumb are given for when begin to use bibliometric measures when comparing otherwise similar candidates.

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M. Kurtz
Tue, 1 Aug 17

Comments: to appear in Proceedings of Library and Information Science in Astronomy VIII (LISA-8)

Usage Bibliometrics as a Tool to Measure Research Activity [CL]

Measures for research activity and impact have become an integral ingredient in the assessment of a wide range of entities (individual researchers, organizations, instruments, regions, disciplines). Traditional bibliometric indicators, like publication and citation based indicators, provide an essential part of this picture, but cannot describe the complete picture. Since reading scholarly publications is an essential part of the research life cycle, it is only natural to introduce measures for this activity in attempts to quantify the efficiency, productivity and impact of an entity. Citations and reads are significantly different signals, so taken together, they provide a more complete picture of research activity. Most scholarly publications are now accessed online, making the study of reads and their patterns possible. Click-stream logs allow us to follow information access by the entire research community, real-time. Publication and citation datasets just reflect activity by authors. In addition, download statistics will help us identify publications with significant impact, but which do not attract many citations. Click-stream signals are arguably more complex than, say, citation signals. For one, they are a superposition of different classes of readers. Systematic downloads by crawlers also contaminate the signal, as does browsing behavior. We discuss the complexities associated with clickstream data and how, with proper filtering, statistically significant relations and conclusions can be inferred from download statistics. We describe how download statistics can be used to describe research activity at different levels of aggregation, ranging from organizations to countries. These statistics show a correlation with socio-economic indicators. A comparison will be made with traditional bibliometric indicators. We will argue that astronomy is representative of more general trends.

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E. Henneken and M. Kurtz
Thu, 8 Jun 17

Comments: 25 pages, 11 figures, accepted for publication in Handbook of Quantitative Science and Technology Research, Springer