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Baidu Scholar: A Useful Tool and Information Source


Baidu Scholar was created in China in June 2014. A free academic resources comes from Chinese biggest search platform baidu, It dedicated to the resource retrieval technology and data mining analysis contribute to academic research, optimize academic resources, guide the academic value innovation, and provide scientific research workers with the most comprehensive academic resources retrieval, and the best research service experience.

Baidu Scholar has collected more than 1.2 million domestic and foreign academic sites including HowNet, Weipu, Wanfang, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, NCBI, etc., indexed more than 1.2 billion academic resource, academic journals, conference papers, books and degree theses etc. It is becoming Chinese largest academic platform with document coverage. On this basis, a scholar database containing more than 4 million Chinese scholars’ homepages and more than 10,000 Periodical library on the homepage of Chinese and foreign periodicals. The above-mentioned powerful technical and data advantages have laid a solid foundation for academic search services, and currently provide nearly 3 billion services for tens of millions of academic users every year.


Baidu Scholar currently provides the following two types of services:

  • Academic search: Support users to search for three types of content: literature, journals, and scholars, and support customized academic search for libraries of universities and scientific research institutions.
  • Academic services: support users to subscribe to keywords of interest, collect valuable documents, open thesis analysis of the research direction, and also check the plagiarism.

Literature Retrieval methods

It is the most frequently used product feature that users demand the most. Baidu scholar  can identify and meet the retrieval needs of a variety of different expressions.

  1. Keyword/subject retrieval.

When the user’s input word is a certain keyword or topic, the search results will comprehensively consider the relevance, authority, timeliness and other multi-dimensional indicators of the document, provide multiple documents most relevant to the input word, and provide the following functions:

1.1.Sorting: Supports sorting documents in three ways: relevance, citations, and descending time. The default is to sort by relevance.

1.2.Screening: Supports fine-grained screening of articles according to eight methods including publication time, research field, core database inclusion, including keywords, document type, author, published journal, and publishing organization, narrowing the search scope, and finding what you need literature.

1.3.Research point analysis: extract multiple research points that are most relevant to the retrieved documents for in-depth analysis, and the user can click on it to view the visual analysis.

1.4.Functional area: each document provides four functions in the functional area: free download, batch quotation, quotation and collection.

文本框: Definition from baidu 

Research point analysis

2.The title retrieval

When the user enters the title of a document, the search results can identify the user’s need to find a unique goal, and directly return to the document’s details page, allowing the user to quickly obtain the required content.

2.1. Bibliographic area: Contains the author, publication source (time, issue, etc.), and citation information of the document. Further click is supported to view the secondary search results of the author and publication source and the cited documents of the document.

2.2. Download area: All sources of the document are given for users to choose to download. Users can also directly view all free sources under the “Free Download” tab for selection. If the document cannot be obtained, they can choose to ask other users for help

2.3. Recommendation area: Support users to view more related documents in the three dimensions of similar documents, references, and cited documents.

2.4. Citation statistics: The current citations of documents are counted annually, so that users can quickly understand the influence of the document in the field.

2.5. Research point analysis: extract multiple research points most relevant to the current literature for in-depth analysis, and the user can view the visual analysis after clicking.

文本框: DOI words

3.DOI search

When the user’s input DOI words, the search result can directly identify the target document.



In order to facilitate users to cite documents as references, etc., users can choose according to the required format.

  • Three citation formats: GB/T 7714, MLA, APA
  • Five document management software import formats: BibTex, EndNote, RefMan, Notefirst, NoteExpres

Form my own experience, the users’ experience and accuracy of Baidu Scholar have been greatly improved, and I believe that it will be able to achieve the same level as Google Academic in the future.

Source: (https://xueshu.baidu.com)

Pastebin: A place to save and share your text files. A source review report


Pastebin is a website created in 2002 by a group of developers. It was created mainly for the reason to share code files amongst fellow coders, either a snippet or an entire copy of the code. Although it is intended for code sharing, any user can upload any type of text on it, ranging from day-to-day journals, to internet relay chat (IRC) logs, to long and complicated programming codes. Pastebin aims to make sharing large amounts of texts more convenient, because in 1988, programmers used to share codes on IRCs, and a large code shared on the IRC disrupted the messages flow, or even altered the code’s text and ultimately ruined it. Any piece of text uploaded to Pastebin is referred to as “Paste”.

Users can choose to keep their paste online for a variety of time periods, they can choose the option to expire their texts immediately after reading, keep it for 1 hour, 1 year, or forever. Also, Pastebin comes with the option of “Syntax Highlighting”, for which you can specify which programming language you are using, making it easier for other users to identify. You can also choose whether you want your paste to be public, private, or unlisted. Unlisted make the paste hidden from google searches, but available on Pastebin to the users who have the URL. Lastly, Pastebin offers the option to protect your paste with a password.

Pastebin has:

  • More than 2 million members
  • More than 95 million active pastes

Pastebin is not only for codes, but other illegal activities as well

Pastebin, a website that supports text sharing, did not only encourage programmers to share their codes, but also became popular for illegal activities. For example, the infamous hacking group “Anonymous” has used Pastebin in the past to post leaked, breached data.

Pastebin allows a maximum of 512 kilobyte of data (0.5 megabytes), and when it comes to text, 512kb is quite a lot. Pastebin is used to save login information from breached websites, email addresses, credit cards…etc. In 2014, Sony Pictures were hacked by a hacker group called Guardians of Peace (GOP) (Cook, 2014). GOP posted a paste that contained employees’ information for over a million employees, music codes, and even upcoming production details. Pastebin was also used to upload pastes that were sensitive to governments, such as the government of the United States. In 2011, a hacking group known as “LulzSec” hacked and leaked the user base of Infragard, an FBI affiliate in Atlanta (Tsukayama, 2011). Over 150 login credentials were leaked, as well as email chains that contained sensitive information about the United State of America’s operation to control the Lybian cyberspace.

All of these illegal activities, and the many more posted on Pastebin, are against Pastebin’s user policy. Pastebin clearly states that the following are not allowed to be posted:

  • Email lists
  • Login details
  • Stolen source code
  • Hacked data
  • Copyrighted information/data
  • Password lists
  • Banking data
  • Personal information
  • Pornographic data
  • Spam links

As Pastebin works with the community, the moderators rely on the users to report such pastes. This means that they do not catch each and every paste that is against their user policy.

Pastebin has become a hotspot amongst hackers, and this was unacceptable to Pastebin, as it goes against the reason to why it was created, sharing codes. These illegal pastes have made Pastebin and other paste sites a valuable data source for public safety officials and cybersecurity teams, as any leaked information linked to doxing, personal information leaking, security breaching, stolen source codes, and all other posted criminal activity can be used and are useful for cybercrimes investigating and mitigating future and current threats.

Searching through Pastebin

Pastebin has implemented a preventive measure in early 2020 to stop the spread of illegal data, which was the removal of the search bar from its website.

Pre-2020, users were able to search on Pastebin using keywords, for example “Calculator code”, and Pastebin would show you all the public pastes related to the keywords searched. Now, due to the removal of the search bar, users can only search Pastebin using Google. For example, Google search “Pastebin calculator code”.

Figure 1. Google search (n.d.).

Then after choosing a link, the paste will show.

Figure 2. Pastebin (n.d.).

Alternatively, there is another method to browse through pastes, but only if they are one the most recently added pastes. A bar on the right of the page shows 8 of the most recent published pastes.

Figure 3. Pastebin (n.d.).


  • Pastebin is a website to store and share small to large data texts, mainly used for codesharing.
  • Pastebin has over 95 million active pastes, meaning you can find many pastes especially if they are coding related.
  • Pastebin has become popular amongst the hacking and criminal community, and you might stumble upon illegally obtained data.
  • The search bar has been removed, and the only way to search through Pastebin is by Googling “Pastebin + keywords”.


Instagram: Influential #hashtags, Posts and People retrieval


Searching on Instagram sometimes leads to imperfect results.  However, there are some good tools that might be helpful for specific information needs. The following are among the most desirable Instagram content for searching: Instagram users, hashtag-content search, hashtag-publishing-influence search,  and of course specific keywords within posts.

From the Instagram Search Interface

It’s obvious that if you try to search with the “@instagram_username” or #hashtag from the basic Instagram interface you’ll get some good results to start you off, but it soon becomes clear that there are some limitations.

There are couple of useful tools that you can use to narrow down your search and get better results (at least with better filtering options), along with some relevant insights.

For example Keyhole is a real-time tracking tool for topics & users across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You need to register if you want to try it for free, but the results provide you quite an informative overview of the frequency of hashtags, related keywords and the most influential posts. Keyhole is really strong player within the social-media-metric industry, and we feel that their trend analysis is also very insightful.

If you are focusing on getting even more information about influential hashtags, KeywordTool for Instagram should be your next stop. It helps you to find relevant hashtags and users and supports your optimal hashtag strategy. The basic version is free. Check out Display Purposes, or Seek Metrics for other options for creating your hashtag set. Incidentally, the latter will help you also with Twitter, YouTube and other platforms.

Finally, if you would like to improve the filtering possibilities of your #hashtag search, Skimagram offers the most recent Instagram posts with one-hashtag input.   

Instagram content search

As you can mainly work with hashtags or usernames when searching for specific Instagram-oriented content, we should take a quick look at some easy methods for searching within indexed Instagram content on Google.

Let’s try this query example:

site:instagram.com "@metallica" OR "#metallica"

We have used some Boolean and Google advanced search operators together with tools, so we can filter our results for any time. This is efficient when you need to find a post with specific text content. Please feel free to share your methods with us.

When Your Bike is Your Life. Check out these 5 Apps for Cyclists


If you are a keen cyclist or cycle adventurer and would like to discover new, undiscovered routes wherever you live, why not try out some of these cycling applications?


This German-based company offers a great application and route planner for hikers and cyclists. One of the best features of the app is the option to customise your desired route. As well as the starting point and final destination, you can also the type of the route you want to take: on roads, or on rough single tracks? You will also see suggested levels of experience needed to make your trip, classification of surfaces, an elevation profile, offline maps, voice navigation and, if you opt for the premium version, a weather forecast for your route. Komoot also works as a community app for adventure lovers, enabling you to share routes and photos that you take along your way.

The web application provides a route planner for free; the mobile application offers one region, also at no cost.


The Austrian Bikemap project claims to offer over 5 million bike routes in one single application. The website provides you with country profiles, official routes, top users and recommendations. You can easily choose any type of trip you wish, or try one of the vast number of routes shared by other users. Naturally, Bikemap has its own apps, available for iOS or Android.


Fancy discovering some unique cycle routes in Europe? EuroVelo offers 16 long distance routes across the old continent. Currently, there are well-written route profiles, including maps that mark their stage of development (Certified EuroVelo Route, Developed Route with EuroVelo Signs, Developed Route, Route under Development, Route at the Planning Stage). So, are you interested in Atlantic coast adventures, or in the Iron Curtain Trail? Or do you just want to feel like a quick ride from the Baltic to the Adriatic? EuroVelo is as an excellent starting point and reference map, but you will definitely need some other map application if you decide to set out on any of the routes.


A Czech project from Seznam, Mapy.cz has become one of the most influential tourist map applications and trip planners in Europe. It offers a web framework and mobile application (with full functionality after signing up) for free. Record your activity, get trip recommendations, elevation profiles, weather predictions – everything is included. Obviously, this project has always been focused on the Czech Republic, but now you can also plan your trip across Europe. Want more? Mapy.cz offers also maps for paddlers, hikers and cross-country skiers. Highly recommended, probably essential if you’re travelling or living in the Czech Republic. Available in Czech or English.


BikeMaps.org offers a rather different map for cyclists. It is a crowdsourced tool, focused on cycling safety. It monitors risks and hazards on roads (or tracks) globally. You can filter according to citizen collision reports, citizen near missed reports, cyclist hazards, bike thefts and new infrastructure, and add your own data if anything happens to you.  Mobile applications available.

Share your favorite tools or applications for cycling.

Face Searching: 3 tools you shouldn’t miss


Face searching. You may think that this type of searching doesn’t affect you, but try the following methods and tools and check if (and where) your face shows up on-line, even though you know nothing about it.

Google Face Search

The first, albeit not all that obvious technique, is Google Face Search. It is hidden among the other Google Search Tools, but you need to switch it on with a specific URL extension. Try and write a specific query for the Google Images interface. For example, let’s say that we want to search for Lady Gaga images.

After the first set of results appears, we need to edit the URL of this set and add the following operator at the end of the identifier: &tbs=itp:face. So the whole URL will look like this:


After adding &tbs=itp:face, the Google Tools Face extension will appear.


PimEyes is a successful freemium app in the recognition services market. It allows you to upload an image / photo and check for similarities on the web, i.e. if a similar or the same image / photo exists elsewhere. The free version offers you the results without links to the original sources.


Another nice example of a face recognition service is Betaface, which has a demo version that allows you to upload a photo (or use the URL of an image). The analysis lists many attributes of the face (age, gender, ethnicity, eyes, hair, attractive, etc.) and can be quite useful, even in the free version, for OSINT (open-source intelligence) purposes.

Trump vs. Biden: a Search Keyword Analysis


How do people search for both candidates? We have chosen the following keywords and phrases:





…and compared them in two ways: the interest over time and the % comparison in each of the US states. Data origin: Google Search Data from mid-September to mid-October.

The “New Normal” Agenda for Librarianship


This week the scheduled Real Time sessions ended at librarian.SUPPORT. While it wasn’t intended to, the series of discussions and presentations really sparked some ideas for libraries moving forward. I suppose it was inevitable as we started with Matt Finch talking about scenario and foresight planning. On the Real Time session with Sari Feldman, Hallie Rich, and Galen Schuerlin we talked about advocacy and connecting to communities in a time of pandemic. As part of that we had a little discussion of the phrase “The New Normal.” It’s a phrase that’s right up there with “in trying times like these,” in the “speed to cliché.”

R. David Lankes (Source: author)

We were noting that it is almost always presented in a negative frame. That is the new normal is expressed as what we will lose – loss of jobs, loss of budget, loss of human contact, etc. But what if we looked at in the positive frame…what is it that we want to be normal after this pandemic? We all acknowledge that things are going to change, I feel an obligation and an urgency to shape that change.

What is our agenda as librarians and the libraries we run on behalf of our communities?

Before I list my proposed items for that agenda, I ask a favor: keep reading. I want to explain where these come from, but more importantly, why having an affirmative and proactive agenda for libraries is vital. This cannot be about trying to predict where things are going to shake out and then running to show our value in that world. It has to be about librarians fighting for social change based on our fundamental and enduring values. There is no doubt that the “how” of libraries will change. I feel now (prepare for another cliché) more than ever the “why cannot.”

I will also emphasize that this is an agenda for the impact libraries should seek collectively. That is, it is not an agenda for how we run or operate libraries (though there will be obvious impacts). This is an agenda for libraries to work toward for a new normal in our communities. How we get there (open access, improved working condition for library workers, new standards for library science education, etc.) is vital and important, but I feel separate.

As one example, we must lobby and work toward universal broadband. This comes from our enduring value of access to information. Yet the pandemic has shown us that the way libraries to this point have worked for universal access, that is by being internet points of connection with WiFi in our facilities or loaning out cellular hotspots is no longer enough. We have to leave our buildings and ensure real national resources and policy is in place so our provision of the internet in the library is completely irrelevant. A big change to how, but not to why.

So what do I see as an agenda for a New Normal that libraries must work toward?

  1. Universal Broadband: Sheltering at home and closing schools and libraries has demonstrated that the internet must be a utility and available to all. The digital divide is wide, unjust, and the damage it is causing in this pandemic age is only highlighting the ongoing damage lack of access has caused for decades to rural and low income families and citizens. Some things to work toward:
    1. Classify and regulate the internet as a utility
    2. Build out rural access to broadband, including transforming libraries into Internet Service Providers
    3. Remove data caps
    4. Restore network neutrality
  2. Workforce Development and Training: At no time in our history have so many people been out of work and the unemployment rate rivals the Great Depression. While we all hope that will change rapidly once lockdowns have been lifted (though that will take many months to complete) there is an acute need now to support people looking for jobs and re-skilling. Libraries must work with higher education, other government agencies, and the private sector to not only get people back to work, but help people find a place in a new knowledge economy.
    1. Deploy adult education services like high school equivalency
    2. Ensure certified school libraries in K-12 schools to ensure literacy skills needed for vocational education as well as college preparation
    3. Team with higher education to support online learners in physical spaces
    4. Provide single service access points to government workforce services
    5. Provide permanent addresses and registration services for social welfare programs
    6. Develop strong prison library services including transition to community connections
  3. Expanding Voter Access to Democratic Participation: Voting is crucial to a well-functioning democracy but is insufficient for a healthy democracy (representative or direct). Eligible citizens must have access to the ballot and access to information on the issues and candidates they are voting on. They must also have transparency in the working of government at all levels to ensure it is the will of the people (all the people) being carried out. Libraries should be a safe place for contentious debate, and facilitators of a community dialog about the future and greater good.
    1. Develop active voter registration and identification services
    2. Host public forums on key community issues
    3. Develop and maintain community strategic priorities
  4. Ensure the Health and Well Being of Our Communities: In the immediate future, librarians must be key partners to public health in developing contact tracing efforts. The goal of contact tracing shouldn’t just be about surveillance, it must be about service. Librarians have not only a background in collecting and organizing information, they do so in a principled way that values privacy and is devoted to service. Librarians have a trusted relationship with their communities. When someone is sick, it is not just about finding out who they have been in contact with, it is keeping them home which means access to food and the outside world. Libraries cannot only track the infected but provide comfort and support.In a longer-term libraries need to form tight partnerships with mental and physical health agencies to guide community members to needed resources.
    1. Provide service-oriented contact tracing services to town, county, and state health departments
    2. Form partnerships with physical and mental health services and partners
    3. Provide forums highlighting wellness programs and ensure such programs protect community privacy
  5. Essential Crisis Response Capacity: In hurricanes, flooding, and civil unrest libraries have provided vital services to communities (academic, school, public, special, all types of libraries). The same must be true in this pandemic where our buildings cannot be a refuge. This pandemic has shown that the essential things in a crisis are food, water, medicine, and information.
    1. Build in emergency provisions to the copyright law to allow for rapid research access to relevant scholarship on a crisis topic (virology for example) and continued education services to home bound citizens
    2. Build citizen information services that not only disseminate trustworthy information on a crisis, but verifies the information and provides community feedback to decision makers

A few notes on these goals before we proceed. Libraries cannot achieve these goals alone. They all require strong alliances with government, industry, not for profits, and citizen participation. These may be part of our New Normal Library Agenda, but they are for the betterment of communities, not advancing libraries. While these are not ideological, they are political, and we should not pretend to be neutral in our goals. The right and the left can argue about how we achieve universal broadband (government policy like eRate or market forces and competition), but we must demand practical approaches to getting it done. The market has gone so far in say universal broadband, but as we saw with rural electrification in the Great Depression, government has to step forward. Lastly, these need to be done in alignment with our professional ethics – striving for diversity and inclusion first and foremost.

Being Proactive

In 2014 I wrote a piece on the dangers of libraries, public libraries in particular, expanding their missions too far to meet the needs of a community. We can’t be a single institution making up for all the inadequacies and inequities of our communities or nation. Now, as when I wrote this, more and more government services are retreating from the public sphere. Physical offices and real people on the phone have been replaced by automated phone trees and websites. Libraries, in many cases, have stepped in to try and provide service.

Librarians now must answer questions on tax preparation, the census, employment support, and a host of government services. All too often we stretch tight resources ever farther, and risk being a place to answer all questions…poorly. We must partner and advocate to fill these gaps. To build strong partnerships, we must be clear on what we value and what we contribute.

Effective librarianship means acknowledging our strengths and what we bring to the table. It also means advocating for the well-being of our communities beyond our doors and functions. Health information is not just the role of medical librarians, it is the role of the library to bring the health department with community health advocates. Why health and not just focus on “knowledge and learning?” Well, as is clear from Maslow’s hierarchy, people are not able to lean if they are scared, hungry, and sick. To ignore the need to keep people healthy, our mission on learning and community is hollow. Public libraries are not viable institutions if the community is unemployed and without taxes. We have seen this clearly in the English libraries where volunteer libraries have repeatedly demonstrated the need for professional librarians and real budgets. In effect to protect our self-interest, we must protect our communities.

Libraries can no longer pretend we are apart from the full spectrum of needs in the community, that we can remain neutral in the face of inequity that divides these communities, nor can we pretend that we can be the fabled savior acting alone to save communities…we are our communities. Librarians are citizens, voters are stewards of collections, experts are part of our true collection. To say we are about literacy and not partner with teachers means our dedication is to what we do, not what needs to be done from the perspective of the community. To say we are about community and only be a source of ebooks in a pandemic is hypocrisy. Yes, our fellow citizens need ebooks, but they need compassion, connection, and community dedicated to their full well-being.

A new normal is coming. Will this new normal be founded on what we lost, or what we seek to gain?

In the dark ages of European history, people lived literally in the ruins of the Roman Empire. Every day as they sought to survive disease, famine, and violence they were reminded of what they no longer had. It paralyzed societal development. It took a renaissance that respected and learned from the past, but confidently (and yes arrogantly at times) was dedicated to moving forward.

Will our new normal be libraries half empty by social distancing, or community hubs that extend beyond our socially distanced footprint to the kitchens and living rooms of every one of our community members? Will we tell of the time when we provided internet access in our buildings to over 90% of US citizens, or will we tell the tales of how we won with our allies universal access for all? Will we wait for a vaccine as our staff gets furloughed, cars park in our parking lots for WiFi, and we endanger our most valuable assets, our staff, in curb side drop offs? Or will we partner with departments of health, technology companies, and foundations to ensure disease is tracked and the sick are cared for?

We must fight for a new normal with our collections, our buildings, but mostly, with our expertise. Librarians by title, by education, or by spirit must bring about a new normal that pushes ahead society. It must minister to those seeking meaning. It must support better decision making in the wake of this pandemic and in preparation for the next crisis. 

I am making this document available for comment on Google Docs to see if we as a community can refine and improve it. Please join the conversation at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z4urUctLkAf7yYmQt5SOVf1tmJTnbmz2_BoXWms1KTA/edit?usp=sharing

This article was originally posted on R. David Lankes official website. Reposting on Information Ninja accepted by the author.

The Importance of Information Needs: From Rambo movies to the COVID-19 vaccine


Our world produces an extraordinary amount of data & information that cannot be (of course) be managed and approached in the normal, everyday way. Consider the numbers: McKinsey Global Institute Research (2017), for example, predicted that there will be 44 zettabytes (ZB) of data produced in 2020; IDC (2019) ups the ante a bit and predicts that in 2025 the connected internet of things (IoT) will produce nearly 80ZB of data. Fine, why not? But what will happen to our information needs? What kind of information-orientated problems will we be solving? And more importantly, how will we solve them in the face of this tsunami of data?

This Information Ninja post is about is about how we might handle our future information needs, and why is important to think about what actually we need to solve / find. The second part of this post is about information overload and why it is ever more dangerous for our society.

Firstly, what is an “information need”? It is a crucial part of an information literacy. A sound definition of information literacy is provided by the American Library Association: ‘Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” To be information literate, then, one needs skills not only in research but in critical thinking.’ To put it another way, an information need is your ability to recognise when you lack information, to have the knowledge of where to find the information (the information source), to be able to use the information source effectively (search & find), analyse the relevancy of it and use the information to remove the lack of information (i.e. the information need is solved).

Sounds simple? It’s not. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Imagine that you are watching the latest Sylvester Stallone Rambo movie when suddenly you think: “Wow, this Last Blood movie is really amazing, but I wonder when the very first part of this Rambo series was created?” This is a simple example of an information need. The answer is obviously quite easy for you if you are a fan of Stallone’s movies, or you know the specific information source where you can find factual information about movies and movie creators (e.g. IMDB), or you just Google it, or Bing it.

Here are the three different scenarios:

  1. If you are a fan, you have knowledge of the answer as a part of your long-term memory which is a primary information source.
  2. If you know the particular information source, you have knowledge where to search for this information, and e.g. the movie database is your secondary information source.
  3. You have knowledge about search engines and you must know keywords and query logic (e.g. Boolean) to get relevant results. Of course, at present we know that Google (or Bing) both work as secondary information sources (see the image below) and help us with their search algorithms.

Some more examples will consider how to solve some slightly more difficult information needs.

Information Need: A vaccine for the COVID-19

Since the beginning of 2020 we have faced an almost unprecedented challenge: how to cope with and manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Among all the measurements, restrictions and critical situations, one global information need is being discussed: “Is there a vaccine for this disease, or when will a vaccine be available?”

Right now, we might be tempted to dwell on the difficulty of the second part of this question: when will the vaccine be available? However, the first part is also not so easy to answer. Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. There is a critically high demand for a vaccine, but the process of research & development is dependent on many legal and regulatory steps including clinical testing, verification, and approval by numerous different authorities.
  2. Even if we don’t want to accept the idea, we need to consider that business is also at work and intense negotiations, including lobbying, are already in train.
  3. Intellectual property rights (e.g patents) are a crucial factor. To own them, or not to own them, determines the level of control in the future.

So, this information need is quite a complex entity when compared to the Rambo movie information need. But still, the principles are the same. We need to be able to identify the source, use it, analyse the results and, ultimately, solve the need.

The source question is the most difficult at present, because there is no one single source that can provide us with verified answers about the existence of the vaccine, or when it will be available. And even if we do suggest some good sources as examples in this post, it definitely won’t be the final set as far as data and information production frequency are concerned. What really matters is the time of publishing.

So, if we need to know whether there is a vaccine or not, we can visit news aggregators such as Kaiser Health News, RealClear Health, Google News (Health) and many more, and these mainstream surface web sources all say that there is no vaccine ready at the beginning of May 2020. For potential verification we need to go to the more scientific-orientated community sources such as Microsoft Academic or Google Scholar.

The results also show us a couple of other medicine-orientated sources where we can continue to search for answers: medRxiv and bioRxiv are preprint sources; preprint, or preliminary reports are not peer-reviewed at the time publication and should not be considered as a verified state-of-the-art solution. But even with this definition, we should definitely consider them as a relevant first insight for solving the specific problem — the COVID-19 vaccine in our example.

Finally, in order to monitor when any possible COVID-19 vaccine will be confirmed, we need to focus on evidence-based-medicine sources. One of the most well-known is the Cochrane Library, now also focused on coronavirus developements. We also need to consider clinical trials. ClinicalTrials.gov provides advanced filtering of results, so when the COVID-19 vaccine is finally ready for marketing, it will appear here, along with all the relevant documentation.

To sum up, the ability to work with your own information needs is a critical part of your intellectual process, with many different requirements. However, it is an important part that should not be underestimated. If you think about your information needs from the perspective of source, analysis and use you will save yourself a lot of time, which has to be a good thing, no?

Manyika, J. (2017). A Future that Works: AI, Automation, Employment, and Productivity. McKinsey Global Institute Research, Tech. Rep, 60.

IDC, (2019). The Growth in Connected IoT Devices Is Expected to Generate 79.4ZB of Data in 2025, According to a New IDC Forecast. Retrieved April 30, 2020, from https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS45213219

Image Search Engines You Should Bookmark


There are specific systems that enable you to search using image files. This article will introduce you to a few useful ways to do this.

OpenRailwayMap: Which Stations Are at the End of the World?


The open OpenRailywayMap project provides a unique insight to existing rail networks around the world. Moreover, you can analyze exotic or risky areas and check the availability of the rail service there. The system also distinguishes lines that are operating, or not.

Railway details

The project is built on the OpenStreetMap and captures the state of rail networks around the world, including the ability to display data according to your chosen criteria. This can generate maps by: infrastructure (secondary/connecting lines, stations, milestones,…), track speeds (from local to high-speed lines), signaling.

The main and unique feature of OpenRailwayMap is the regular daily updates and cooperation of many individuals from all over the world.