Personal vs Provided Systems

Today I tried to deal with three email alerts for BIT papers – two for new journal issues (Oct and Nov 2013) and one with some newly received papers. I had previously inspected the papers on my iPhone – a practice which I’m getting used to and finding quite feasible and effective. This despite the back arrows on the Taylor & Francis App no longer working reliably, requiring me to exit the App and re-enter to move to another paper – I shall have to seek advice from the T&F Help Desk for that. When I read a paper on the iPhone, if I decide I want to include it in my filing index, I mark it as a favourite in the App with a view to updating my index when I’m sitting at my PC.  So, today, going through the emails, I was checking the paper titles in the emails against the papers I’d marked as favourites in the iPhone, and I encountered two significant problems:

a)      For one of the papers I had mistakenly made two provisional entries in my index – I must have received two alerts for it at different stages in the acceptance process and when I received the second alert I hadn’t realised that there was already a provisional entry in my index for it. For this to have happened I must have failed to check for an entry in the Favourites section of the App – or maybe I had forgotten to put an entry in the Favourites section when I first saw the paper. This problem is due to the disconnect between the information sent in the emails and the information provided in the iPhone App. Ideally, I’d like to be able to include some information with each paper as it enters the acceptance process – and for that information to be shown presented every time I receive an email about the paper or when I look at the paper in the iPhone App.

b)      I’m finding it very difficult to match the papers in the emails to my index entries. This is because I haven’t been putting the exact title of the paper in the index – my practice up to now has been to put whatever text I want in the index to describe the item concerned. I’ve decided that in future I’m going to have to include the exact title otherwise the whole process is going to be too difficult and time consuming.

These two problems are symptomatic of the two systems (mine and the T&F alerting and App systems) having been designed independently and consequently being highly incompatible with one another. Of course, other users of the T&F system almost certainly operate in different ways and therefore the T&F system is likely to be incompable with many other personal systems. I contend that the best way to address this discrepancy would be to include some general purpose capability that can be moulded in different ways by different users. One such general purpose capability might be to enable each user to attach some personal annotations to each paper and for that private annotation to be presented each time the user sees the title or contents of the paper – regardless whether that is in an email or in the App. Of course there’s no guarantee that such a  solution would work for everyone – or in fact for anyone other than myself. The only way to be sure would be to investigate what all or some real users actually do. I wonder to what extent T&F performed  such a study.

Having completed the exercise of going through the two new issues of the journal, getting my index up to date, downloading copies of the papers for which I’ve made an entry in my index, deleting entries in the ‘Latest’ section of the App, etc., I feel a little exhausted. It was not a quick or pleasant experience – especially when having to deal with two new issues all at once. Overall, the switch from a paper version of BIT to an electronic version is, so far, taking up a lot more of my time and involving me in a lot of extra nugatory work.

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