[KS] bibliographies: Zotero, anyone?

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
Fri Jun 21 06:42:02 EDT 2013

>> at this negative reaction

This is also a place for discussion. I addressed what I think is a very 
basic question about the sense of a suggested project. When someone 
builds a house or starts a business, for example, one would also have 
to deal with several basic economic questions about rentability or 
revenue, and the such. 
I asked the questions since all that relates to (especially 
non-annotated) bibliographies and text and information access seems to 
tell us that a *general* (country study) bibliography would not make 
much sense at where we are now. With every year going by this seems to 
make less sense. That is so because the existing bibliographies, online 
bibliographies and full-text DBs cover higher and higher percentages of 
publications. It is therefore my impression that, while any 
non-annotated bibliography would possible still make *some* sense, that 
sense very quickly declines towards the zero line. Please let us keep 
in mind that this is a pure numbers game and NOT (or not anymore) an 
issue of academic work! 
TEST: Everyone can try this for him/herself: take any PhD thesis topic, 
take any actual PhD thesis as a sample. Then spend 20 minutes on 
electronic DB searches (one for Western, one for East Asian sources). 
Typically, you will see that you have around 75% of the listed 
literature in the thesis that matches the entries in your e-basket, 
another 10 or 15% is missing because it does not match the topic, and 
the remaining 5 to 10% titles you would have found over a longer search 
or work on the topic. 

THAT SITUATION is a new one that evolved over the past twenty or so 
years. I am simply suggesting to move on to put energy in the tools 
that promise a better economic input-output compensation, and tools 
that students and the general interested public actually use nowadays. 

>> You can be sure, however, that it will quickly gather, in 
>> one place, many resources that are not collected by robots or humans 
>> in other collections (…)

Exactly that is what I have strong doubts about. This does by no means 
match up with my own experience, to the opposite. Such coverage is 
getting close to 99% in most areas. 

>> Can you please point to me any single, free, open, online bibliography

It was clearly pointed out that academic full-text sources are in its 
majority not free. Exactly that was the point: to consider, to discuss, 
if it can be accomplished to create access to major research DBs, as as 
Professor Walraven noted AKSE had already looked into at an earlier 
date. I am still not sure what the problem is: lack of financing or no 
agreement on the advantage? (As there is obviously no technical 

As for the whole issue of 'free' vs. 'paid': I am convinced that in the 
end such a free "crowdsourced bibliography" is also by no means free 
but in terms of input more expensive than putting energy and money into 
commercial service subscriptions, simply because of the usability of 
the final product (traditional bibliography vs. mostly full-text access 
with summaries). Someone will put many work hours into this 'free' 
project, that is time, that is money, and that is energy. 

So, yes, how things are going, why would academics nowadays spend time 
on creating bibliographies, other than listing the literature and the 
sources they used in their articles and books? 


On Fri, 21 Jun 2013 15:30:59 +0900, Charles Muller wrote:
> On 2013/06/21 14:21, Frank Hoffmann wrote:
>> Re: "crowdsourced bibliography of Korean Studies"
>> On what basis would such a general bibliography on Korea still be
>> useful in 2013?
> I guess it depends on the degree to which a person values having 
> ready access to a list of tagged, annotated bibliographical entries 
> located in one place, which can readily be imported/exported in over 
> a dozen bibliographical formats, into one's word processor, and so 
> forth. Such a tool is quite valuable to me, and apparently, to at 
> least a hundred other of my colleagues in Buddhist studies.
>> What do you estimate is currently the percentage of new
>> publications that are missed in other, easily available bibliographic
>> and full-text DBs plus those in old publication not yet being present
>> in bibliographies in electronic format?
> I have no idea, and I don't care. A crowdsourced project merely 
> builds on the contributions of its members, and becomes what it 
> becomes. You can be sure, however, that it will quickly gather, in 
> one place, many resources that are not collected by robots or humans 
> in other collections, and that it will be continually curated by 
> specialists in the field, and not by robots or simple aggregation.
>> That kind of work, time, and cost could well be put into other,
>> forward-looking projects of establishing access where access is not
>> there.
> Where, may I ask, is this access you are speaking of? Can you please 
> point to me any single, free, open, online bibliography for the field 
> of Korean Studies available through an English language interface 
> that is contributed to and maintained by professional scholars in the 
> field? One that allows one to automatically generate a bibliography 
> in any one of the popular academic bibliographical styles with the 
> mere selection of a keyword tag? The point is not merely to search 
> out individual works (which can of course be done with Google, online 
> catalogues, and so forth) but to be able quickly produce 
> bibliographies for one's own research works (the way people do with 
> Endnote, etc.), and to be able to free add to, and edit 
> presently-existent entries.
>> And with access I do not just have those few specialized
>> scholars in mind who get well paid for teaching and research positions
>> and who go back and forth to Korea and who all have access, however
>> unsystematic and unorganized that might be, but maybe school teachers,
>> students, or the general public--or researchers from non-Korean Studies
>> fields who want to look into things Korean. Hasn't the field changed,
>> is there still anything like "field studies" and "cultural locality"
>> (if so, how long?), haven't the means of information collection
>> changed, and shouldn't then the tools also be appropriated? Are there
>> still any students or PhD candidates left that go through
>> bibliographies to find sources of information and research (no irony
>> intended)?
> I don't see what these objections have to do with what I am 
> proposing. I am simply proposing to create a crowdsourced 
> bibliography for the field which members could benefit from whether 
> or not they were active contributors. Our Buddhist Studies 
> bibliography is already the largest free, publicly-available 
> collection in the field. What, may I ask, is wrong with that?
> I am somewhat shocked, I must say, at this negative reaction, the 
> likes of which I have never encountered since I began to initiate 
> such projects. I this proposal perhaps something that would compete 
> with something with which you are already involved? This has been the 
> case with our Buddhist Studies bibliography...
> Regards,
> Chuck
> ---------------------------
> A. Charles Muller
> Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology
> Faculty of Letters
> University of Tokyo
> 7-3-1 Hongō, Bunkyō-ku
> Tokyo 113-8654, Japan
> Office Phone: 03-5841-3735
> Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought
> http://www.acmuller.net

Frank Hoffmann

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