science

23 year in coma and then in headlines.

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Rom Houben was thought to have been in coma for around 20 years but then Steven Laureys brain scanned him with positron emission tomography and found that he was minimally conscious. From a German news article it gets into English news and further even to the front page of a Danish tabloid. And the news media had citations from Rom himself: So he can communicate with complete sentences! That is something of a story.

I heard of this story and found that it already was on Wikipedia, where on Rom Houben’s page one could read a section called “controversy”. A video was linked from the Wikipedia page and it clearly showed Rom communicating via Facilitated Communication (FC) (p?? dansk: staveplade). Now FC has exceptionally low standing in the scientific community, and immediately that would call the whole story into question. I heard Steven Laureys in one scientific conference and he seemed to me to be an ok guy—not one that would start using FC. But this story could undermine his credibility. Anibal from Spain, that I follow on Twitter, pointed me to the an entry in Neurologica Blog where commentors were also very sceptical. But one—presumably Flemish speaking—commentor pointed to a recent Belgian news article where Steven Laureys had spoken. The commentor translated it to English, and according to this Steven Laureys says:

That (FC) is a debate that troubles me much more. I myself am sceptical, and that kind of facilitated communication still has a bad reputation, and rightly so. I’m not part of that, and have never suggested using it.

So it seems the news media made this story big by not being critical about the FC. And Wikipedia is more credible?

Using Google Web-service to keep track of scientific citations to me

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Googlescholar

Google Scholar allows me to see which scientific papers cite my scientific papers. However, it does not order them according to date so I cannot easily identify the most recent papers with cite to me.

One way to somehow identify recent citations is to use the “as_ylo” parameter available in the advanced search. With as_ylo=2009 only the papers published in 2009 are shown to the given query. Combining that with a negative ‘author:’ query gets you some of the way, e.g., with “Nielsen FA” -author:”FA Nielsen” (included as_ylo=2009) I find papers from 2009 mentioning ‘Nielsen FA’ that are not authored by me.

To get a higher retrieval rate I list some of the different variations of my name in the query. The real query is then (abbreviated) “Nielsen FA” OR … -author:”FA Nielsen” …!

As the year progresses one gets more and more citations and it becomes difficult to identify the new ones. Using the real-time search in the standard Google Web search one may try an alternative way. Restricting the search to PDF files and real-time search for past month data may result in newer data, – but probably also lacking papers from publishers letting Google Scholar in but Google Web out: “Nielsen FA” OR … filetype:pdf

It is possible that Google Alerts also can help.

2010-11-25: Typo correction