Archive for December, 2009

Gain Experience in Statistical Analysis at ICPSR

Posted December 17th, 2009 by Katherine McNeill

ICPSR logo

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world’s largest archive of digital social science data, now is accepting applications for its annual summer internship program and 2010 research paper competition.

ICPSR Undergraduate Summer Internship Program

ICPSR is accepting applications for its annual summer internship program for undergraduates which will take place from June 7-August 13, 2010.

  • Gain experience using statistical programs such as Stata, SAS, and SPSS.
  • Learn data processing skills to prepare social science data for archiving and distribution.
  • Deadline for application: February 8, 2010.
  • Stipend given.

For more information, see ICPSR’s page on the program or contact Katherine McNeill, Data Services and Economics Librarian, at mcneillh@mit.edu

ICPSR Research Paper Competitions

ICPSR is sponsoring three competitions to highlight the best student research papers (undergraduate and master’s) using quantitative data.  The objective is to encourage students to explore the social sciences by means of critical analysis of a topic supported by quantitative analysis of a dataset(s) held within the ICPSR archive and presented in written form.

  • Two competitions covers any dataset(s) held within the ICPSR archive and are eligible to undergraduate and master’s students, respectively. The third competition solicits undergraduate papers addressing issues relevant to minorities in the United States, including immigrants, that utilize data from the Resource Center for Minority Data.
  • Up to three cash prizes will be awarded for each competition.  The winner will receive a monetary award of $1,000 (second place receives $750 and third place $500).
  • Deadline for submission is January 31, 2010.

For details, see ICPSR’s page on the competition or contact Katherine McNeill, Data Services and Economics Librarian, at mcneillh@mit.edu.

Check out the MIT Libraries’ IAP 2010 sessions!

Posted December 11th, 2009 by Ryan Gray

Are you wondering what an RSS feed is and how it can help your research?

Want to learn more about using GIS, EndNote or RefWorks?

Need to find chemical information, social science data, or patents?

Want to kick back and enjoy a film festival, improve your bioinformatics search skills, or learn how to make your own videos for the Web?

Look no further! Take a peek at all of the MIT Libraries IAP Activities offered in 2010.

MIT Graduate Students Lobby For Open Access

Posted December 10th, 2009 by Ellen Duranceau

Kevin McComber, Vice President of the Graduate Student Council, was part of a delegation sponsored by the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) that recently went to Washington to lobby for more open access to research. In this interview with Scholarly Publishing & Licensing Consultant Ellen Duranceau, Kevin reflects on his experience in Washington.

ED: What motivated this trip, how did your group prepare for it, and what outcome did you hope for?

KM: The motivation for the trip was our membership in NAGPS, which holds “Legislative Action Days” (LAD) twice a year. NAGPS had a number of issues on its platform, so since there were three of us going from MIT (me, Alex Chan, and Alex Evans), we chose three topics to research and for which to lobby.

L-R: Alex Evans, Chair of the GSC's Legislative Action Subcommittee; Kevin McComber, GSC Vice President; Senator Kohl; Alex Hamilton Chan, GSC President. Photo courtesy of Kevin McComber.

L-R: Alex Evans, Chair of the GSC’s Legislative Action Subcommittee; Kevin McComber, GSC Vice President; Senator Kohl; Alex Hamilton Chan, GSC President. Photo courtesy of Kevin McComber.

We prepared by deciding who would research what (I took open access, Alex Chan took the lifting of H1-B visa caps for advanced-degree holders, and Alex Evans took grad student stipend tax exemption) and then by trying to find more information about our respective topics than we thought a typical U.S. representative’s office would know.

We especially wanted to collect information about these topics from MIT or our peer institutions, as we thought that having solid examples to back our lobbying would be effective. We each wrote up our findings and shared them with the other NAGPS members lobbying in D.C. so that they could also have this research ammunition.

We didn’t really know what outcome to expect; at the very least, we were hoping to keep these topics in the minds of the people with whom we met.

ED: I understand you were lobbying for FRPAA, the Federal Research Public Access Act, which would make the research sponsored by the largest government agencies openly available on the internet within six months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. What kind of reception did you find on Capitol Hill? What do you think is the likely future for this bill?

KM: The reception we got when we lobbied for FRPAA was universally positive. Most people asked, “So who would oppose this?” and, when we said, “Publishers,” they understood. I think everyone sees the benefits of FRPAA.

I think this bill is likely to pass this time around, due to the increasing support in academic and lobbying circles since 2006 when it was first introduced. The government just issued a request for information about it so we know there is some movement on this front.

ED: Were there any surprises?

KM: Related to FRPAA and OA, no. But we were asked to draft language for a bill to make graduate student stipends tax-exempt, which was definitely a huge surprise. We had done our research on how this could benefit the nation, and it really paid off.

ED: Lobbying in Washington seems a world away from your graduate work in Materials Science & Engineering. Were there any connections between your research and what you were talking about in Washington? What did you take away from this experience?

KM: I think the strongest connection was that I could speak confidently about these topics (especially OA and grad stipend tax exemption) because I know they would benefit the academic world. It wasn’t so much my experience in materials science but my experience in grad school and the academic lifestyle that was so helpful. I felt like we were taken very seriously because we were from MIT and because we could speak from experience on these topics.

My main take-away was how much I learned about the government and lobbying. I had always thought of lobbying as some back-room dealings and I didn’t know how legislation worked in Washington. I still don’t know as much as I should, but this was an eye-opener and I’m interested in staying involved in lobbying. I’m also continually in contact with people from SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) to stay abreast of the OA issues.

L-R: Kevin McComber; Alex Hamilton Chan; Senator Brown; Alex Evans. Photo courtesy of Kevin McComber.

L-R: Kevin McComber; Alex Hamilton Chan; Senator Brown; Alex Evans. Photo courtesy of Kevin McComber.

ED: What would you like the students and faculty at MIT to know about FRPAA, and your trip?

KM: About FRPAA – please support MIT’s OA policy. Submit your manuscripts and theses to DSpace@MIT. Support OA in your dealings with publishers. Making OA work at MIT will be a huge help for our advocacy efforts.

About our trip – this serious lobbying effort is a new front for the GSC; previous efforts had not been as well organized and did not have visible outcomes. Being asked to draft wording for a bill, getting a front-page article in the Tech , giving this interview…we feel like our efforts have been enhanced and they’re paying off and being recognized.

ED: If graduate students are interested in these issues, do you have recommendations for whom they should contact?

KM: Please contact the chair of the GSC’s Legislative Action Subcommittee, Alex Evans, at gsc-lasc@mit.edu. This is a new subcommittee of the GSC, started because want to institutionalize our lobbying efforts and we want a framework in which to continually improve them.

ED: Kevin, thank you so much for your leadership supporting open access to research, and for taking the time to share your experience in Washington.


For more information about open access, see the Open Access FAQ

Hayden open till 2am, Dec. 10-18 for Finals

Posted December 10th, 2009 by mit-admin

Hayden Library — Humanities & Science — will be open till 2am each night during Finals

from Thursday, Dec. 10 to Friday, Dec. 18th:

8am-2am daily, except Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 12 & 13, 10am-2am.

Hayden open till 2am daily

The extended hours are for the MIT community only.

Harriet Ritvo discusses “The Dawn of Green” in the Archives on Dec. 9

Posted December 7th, 2009 by Heather Denny

Harriet Ritvo, MIT’s Arthur J. Conner Professor of History, will discuss her latest book The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism on Wednesday, December 9th at 4 p.m. in the Institute Archives (14N-118).

In The Dawn of Green, Ritvo reveals how today’s environmental movement can be traced to Thirlmere, a bucolic reservoir in the English Lake District, and the 19th century battle around it that pitted industrial progress against conservation.

Ritvo is also the author of The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of Classifying Imagination and The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age.

During her talk she will show materials used in her research and sign copies of her book.  This event is sponsored by the MIT Libraries’ Institute Archives & Special Collections, and the MIT History Faculty.  It is free and open to the public.

New photography exhibit at Rotch Library – An Uncertain Moment

Posted December 2nd, 2009 by mit-admin

KosovoAn Uncertain Moment
Laura Rushfeldt
December 1, 2009 – January 8, 2010

Rotch Library (7-238)

This exhibition provides a photo chronicle of contemporary life in Kosovo. Kosovo’s political condition and its effect on the Kosovar people is complex, ambiguous, and fluid. At best, this effect can be grasped only through examples and snapshots that provide momentary understanding. The exhibition is an attempt is to provide a lens into contemporary Kosovo through the individuals the artist met and the stories they were willing to share with her. The collection of many small stories culminated in two larger ones, the lives of Medina, an 11-year old girl growing up in a suburb of Prishtina, and Sabahet, a student at Prishtina University. This volume chronicles their daily life, with the remnants and ripples of past conflict still visible and affecting them today.