Thursday, May 19, 2011

Freeing my father's publications part 5: near completion of PDF collection at Mendeley (h/t @David_Dobbs)

Well, the story continues.  Yesterday marked a major achievement in my goal to free up the scientific publications of my father Howard J. Eisen, who passed away in 1987 when I was in college.  I have been working for the last 3+ years or so on collecting and sharing as much of his scientific work as possible.  I have documented this effort on a page on this blog: Freeing dads pubs.  That page contains links to various details about my effort here.

I have been doing this for many reasons.  And I could detail them all here.  But instead I point you to the amazing story written by David Dobbs that relates to this effort: Free Science, One Paper at a Time | Wired Science |  David is a science writer/blogger/scientist/journalist and about a year ago he was interviewing me for a story that he was working on about Mendeley.  It was good timing as right around then I was trying all sorts of different tools for sharing his publications, from Academia.Edu to web pages and so on.  And I had been looking at Mendeley too.  When Academia.Edu did not pan out, Mr. Gunn suggested in a comment on one of my posts that this might work in Mendeley.  So I set up a Mendeley page for my father which I diddled around with for a bit.  But inspired by the discussions with David I tried to beef up the Mendeley page and try to learn how to use the system.  And I managed to post many of my dad's papers there and on my blog.  And I ended up telling David about the whole saga of trying to free up my dad's papers.  David, being an insightful journalist, realized that this saga was a good story and he asked a lot of questions about it.

But then I got caught up in life and the effort to free my dad's publications slowed down.  That was, until David's blog post came out: Free Science, One Paper at a Time | Wired Science |  The piece moved me.  It scared me a bit at first, since there are some really personal details in there, but I realized when reading it why he had focused in on this story.  So, with his post out there - for all to read.  I realized, I had to get my shit together and redouble my efforts to free up my father's publications.  So over the last week or so I have been scavenging around (with some help from people around the web) trying to dig up PDFs of as many of my father's papers as possible.  Note - I generally would like to obtain these papers without having to pay for them but I am trying to not break any laws either.

I am writing today because I have nearly completed the task of getting PDFs of all of his papers.  And I have discovered that Mendeley is really a great way to share them.  So now on the Howard Eisen Mendeley page almost all of his papers are there for anyone to obtain.  And thanks to the social features of Mendeley, more and more people will see and have access to those papers, thus ensuring that they do not wallow in never never land but continue to have some potential impact on science and society.  Anyway - thanks David, for a wonderful article and for inspiring me to get moving on the "Freeing My Father's Publications" effort.  And thanks to all the people who have supported me along the way including Linda Avey, Mr. Gunn, David Williams, and more.  It has been a slog but we are getting there.

Afterthought: some additional discussions of David's story include:

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