All 8 entries tagged Literature Search

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March 01, 2013

Being organised with your information: Evernote is one useful tool.

Follow-up to Recording information when literature searching from Library Research Support

Organising your information is something absolutely imperative for researchers. There are lots of tools out there to help, and researchers all like to organise things in their own ways, so no one tool is going to suit all researchers. This means that you either have to investigate every new thing (ridiculous!) or listen to someone else's experiences and bear things in mind for one day when you might have a new need. This blog post is about my experiences with tools for organising stuff. I have a new need because I am preparing to leave the University of Warwick (30th April). Another experience many researchers will go through, as changing institution is very much a part of career progression for many.

In the past, I have blogged a few ways to be organised with your references, and have had guest posts from colleagues about reference management tools before, too.

I wrote here recently about organising bookmarks using online tools, and how I liked Diigo. Once or twice on this blog I have also mentioned Evernote, and that's the tool I'm currently playing with because it's been recommended by researchers at Warwick.

What I like about Evernote is that I can forward e-mails into it, and I can set it up to mirror folders on my computer so that all my e-mails and documents are tagged and accessible in the same place. I can also clip items from the web and create a copy of them to refer to later, and of course I can use my tags for them too. So I can get material from whichever source all into the same tagging system which is great, because I keep having to replicate my folder structures and it's much better to have all my re-usable stuff in one place, and tagged properly. Tags are sooo much better than folders, too, because you can have more than one per item!

I've been busy clipping my own blog entries into Evernote because this is a bit of an open notebook, and all my entries are tagged: I use this material when preparing workshops and presentations. Now I can just look on Evernote for my own blog entries, emails etc, and stuff I've clipped that has been written by others, all on the same theme. Plus, if Warwick ever decides to delete this blog after I've left, I'll have my own copies of my blog entries on Evernote.

I can use Evernote in at least three different ways:

  1. By logging into my account on the web.
  2. By opening up the software installed on my computer.
  3. By using the Evernote App on my phone.

I think that all three are going to be handy.

I will probably still use my folders, but Evernote provides a way of collecting items for a particular project or need, whilst also creating copies of them which is a kind of back-up for me.

I do wish that I could import all my bookmarks into Evernote from Diigo: that doesn't seem to be possible. But perhaps it is better to use both tools. I expect that I'll maintain my web bookmarks collection for when I want to record a whole website, but perhaps use the Evernote web clipping tool for when it's a particular page that I'm interested in, and that will also help me to overcome the problem of broken links that I get with my bookmark collection, because if the content is clipped then I will still be able to read it!

There might even be times when I will want to both bookmark on Diigo and clip onto Evernote, because Evernote is my own store, but Diigo is a route I use to share stuff with others. Incidentally, I don't have lots of network contacts on Diigo itself as a way of sharing, but I Tweet things that I bookmark on Diigo. I don't actually use Diigo's own feature for tweeting an item because it involves too many clicks and steps from me each time I bookmark. Instead, I've used IFFT (If this then that) to set up a rule for Diigo items to get automatically tweeted. But that is all about sharing my information and this blog post is meant to be about organising it! So many tools serve more than one purpose.

I expect that for proper research articles that I collect, I'll always want to use a reference management tool as well. Because they can create proper references for me by importing metadata and they can create lovely formatted references for me when I write anything formal, too. And they can do networking and sharing things, and "shout about my profile" things too.

Evernote isn't quite the "one ring to rule them all" for me to organise my information. But that's probably a good thing because I'd hate to rely on one tool for everything and then have it crash or want to bill me a small fortune for using it! And by using other tools as well, I get the benefit of all their other features for sharing and profile-raising.


Being organised with your information: Evernote is one useful tool.

Follow-up to Recording information when literature searching from Library Research Support

Organising your information is something absolutely imperative for researchers. There are lots of tools out there to help, and researchers all like to organise things in their own ways, so no one tool is going to suit all researchers. This means that you either have to investigate every new thing (ridiculous!) or listen to someone else's experiences and bear things in mind for one day when you might have a new need. This blog post is about my experiences with tools for organising stuff. I have a new need because I am preparing to leave the University of Warwick (30th April). Another experience many researchers will go through, as changing institution is very much a part of career progression for many.

In the past, I have blogged a few ways to be organised with your references, and have had guest posts from colleagues about reference management tools before, too.

I wrote here recently about organising bookmarks using online tools, and how I liked Diigo. Once or twice on this blog I have also mentioned Evernote, and that's the tool I'm currently playing with because it's been recommended by researchers at Warwick.

What I like about Evernote is that I can forward e-mails into it, and I can set it up to mirror folders on my computer so that all my e-mails and documents are tagged and accessible in the same place. I can also clip items from the web and create a copy of them to refer to later, and of course I can use my tags for them too. So I can get material from whichever source all into the same tagging system which is great, because I keep having to replicate my folder structures and it's much better to have all my re-usable stuff in one place, and tagged properly. Tags are sooo much better than folders, too, because you can have more than one per item!

I've been busy clipping my own blog entries into Evernote because this is a bit of an open notebook, and all my entries are tagged: I use this material when preparing workshops and presentations. Now I can just look on Evernote for my own blog entries, emails etc, and stuff I've clipped that has been written by others, all on the same theme. Plus, if Warwick ever decides to delete this blog after I've left, I'll have my own copies of my blog entries on Evernote.

I can use Evernote in at least three different ways:

  1. By logging into my account on the web.
  2. By opening up the software installed on my computer.
  3. By using the Evernote App on my phone.

I think that all three are going to be handy.

I will probably still use my folders, but Evernote provides a way of collecting items for a particular project or need, whilst also creating copies of them which is a kind of back-up for me.

I do wish that I could import all my bookmarks into Evernote from Diigo: that doesn't seem to be possible. But perhaps it is better to use both tools. I expect that I'll maintain my web bookmarks collection for when I want to record a whole website, but perhaps use the Evernote web clipping tool for when it's a particular page that I'm interested in, and that will also help me to overcome the problem of broken links that I get with my bookmark collection, because if the content is clipped then I will still be able to read it!

There might even be times when I will want to both bookmark on Diigo and clip onto Evernote, because Evernote is my own store, but Diigo is a route I use to share stuff with others. Incidentally, I don't have lots of network contacts on Diigo itself as a way of sharing, but I Tweet things that I bookmark on Diigo. I don't actually use Diigo's own feature for tweeting an item because it involves too many clicks and steps from me each time I bookmark. Instead, I've used IFFT (If this then that) to set up a rule for Diigo items to get automatically tweeted. But that is all about sharing my information and this blog post is meant to be about organising it! So many tools serve more than one purpose.

I expect that for proper research articles that I collect, I'll always want to use a reference management tool as well. Because they can create proper references for me by importing metadata and they can create lovely formatted references for me when I write anything formal, too. And they can do networking and sharing things, and "shout about my profile" things too.

Evernote isn't quite the "one ring to rule them all" for me to organise my information. But that's probably a good thing because I'd hate to rely on one tool for everything and then have it crash or want to bill me a small fortune for using it! And by using other tools as well, I get the benefit of all their other features for sharing and profile-raising.


December 22, 2011

Recording information when literature searching

Some notes in preparation for revising RSSP Lit Searching workshop material... Merry Christmas to all!

Recording information

Every researcher will no doubt have their own way of doing this, but here are some methods to get you thinking about what might work for you. You don’t have to use only one method: I personally like a combination of the log book & accounts on databases, the filing cabinet and reference management software!

1) Index cards

Write the details of each item you might cite onto a card, and store/sort these.
Advantages: cards can be sorted by date, author, theme, relevance. Can be created without digital devices.
Disadvantages: cards can be lost, take time to create and cannot benefit from data export functions or be sorted using computing power!

2) A table

Record the details of all items onto a table: either a digital file or a printed record. NB it can be difficult to devise a table that can cater for all information types.

3) Log book

Information recorded day by day, into a log book (digital or print). This approach can be combined with the account functions on most databases and repositories where you can save records of interest and search histories.
Advantages: easy to re-trace your search steps and to plot progress.

4) A filing cabinet

Print out articles or front pages of articles (or photocopies of book title pages, etc), write the referencing details onto the front of them and staple notes with quotes and key concepts onto the print out.
This is similar to the Index cards mechanism and you can include some such cards into your filing cabinet as well, so could be useful if bringing back records from somewhere with little or no technology access.

5) Reference management software

Such as EndNote, EndNote Web, Mendeley, Zotero, Connotea
Advantages: data import functions can speed up your record creation process. ‘Cite while you write’ functions help you to keep track of references within your text as you write up, automatically creating your bibliography for you, within a document.
Disadvantages: sophisticated software takes time to learn how to use properly. Records are likely to need editing and supplementing even after importing. Referencing rules will also likely need editing to be sure that your data is represented correctly. Not always suited to research in the field if computer access will be limited.


November 01, 2011

Creating a search strategy

This Thursday, 2pm in the Library Training room on floor 2 will be the first of our literature searching workshops on the Research Student Skills Programme here at Warwick: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/rssp/workshops/researchskills/i1r/

One of the things we cover is the importance of being organised in thinking of your keywords and the variations you might use, as a researcher. I'm embedding a template document that we have adapted as an example of one way to keep track of these, which is a handout from the session.


October 18, 2011

A few newspaper sources

At Warwick, the most up to date online newspaper subscriptions we have are through Factiva: some titles do have a delay period before they become available to us there, but not all. If you are interested in searching newspapers from the past or want a link to Factiva then this link should prove helpful: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/search~S1/v?news+and+newspapers

In terms of free, online news sources, I like the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/) and the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/). Some other sites which folks might want to look at are: the Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/ and World News: http://wn.com/

It seems to me that using Google Reader is rather like creating your own newspaper, subscribing to RSS feeds and then watching the headlines to see if there is anything that you want to read. Many news sites will offer you RSS feeds, so you can build your own. If you don’t know about RSS feed readers then you could sign up for the “23 Things for the Digital Professional” course (registration open until midnight on 23 Oct, 2011), as that is one of the things to be covered: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/rex23phd11/


October 17, 2011

Microsoft Academic Search: get another h–index calculation!

Writing about web page http://academic.research.microsoft.com

Microsoft is creating “Academic Search” as a rival to Google Scholar. I’ve been meaning to investigate it properly for a while!

I see that it has listings of top authors by subject, eg: http://academic.research.microsoft.com/RankList?entitytype=2&topdomainid=6&subdomainid=15&last=0
… though as with all things citation data related, researchers need to investigate the validity of the data set on which they are calculated. I am not actually sure what they mean by "top author" on these lists, so this is one for further investigation...

Microsoft's site states that it is in beta and I'm not too sure where the data comes from except that the site says that they are using data from open access repositories, publishers and web crawling.

There are also some great features on there like the AcademicMap where you can find many Warwick Authors. It appears from the map that you can contribute (on an orange bar at the bottom), so maybe authors can make sure it picks up on their work properly. Authors' profiles appear with h-index and g-index scores, no.s of papers, no.s of citations, etc. Sometimes they even feature a photo!



October 12, 2011

My top tips for a new PhD student, on literature searching

Here is an adapted excerpt from some recent correspondence with a new PhD student at Warwick:

If I were you then I would start by building your list of places you wish to search...

...then look at the keywords you wish to use,

...then start searching in earnest.

Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to do all of this!

Do be organised so that you can refer to your records at a later stage, and set up accounts and alerts as you go along so that you don’t have to do the same searches over and over again.

Do also record places that you choose not to search and why, and keywords that you choose not to use, and why.

There is often a strange, panicky moment when you think you’ve discovered a new source of information or search strategy, a year or two down the line… and then it turns out that you did know about it but had good reasons not to use it then which might still apply or not, as your research evolves.

It’s quite easy to forget what you did at this stage so recording things is important: you’ll probably find your own system for this, although we suggest some useful methods at the RSSP workshops for PhD students:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/rssp/workshops/researchskills/


August 12, 2010

Advice for researchers on how to use blogs as a way to find out about research

I've been blogging about how researchers might use a blog as a project website, but there are plenty of other aspects to blogs! The RIN report at: http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/communicating-and-disseminating-research/use-and-relevance-web-20-researchersindicates that 12% of their survey's respondents write blogs at least occasionally, and 21% comment on blogs.

If researchers are blogging and engaging with each other on blogs then there is material of potential value out there for other researchers to find and use. What advice should librarians offer to researchers about how to use blogs?

FINDING BLOGS OF INTEREST/VALUE

  1. An ordinary Google search will sometimes turn up blog entries in the results.
  2. You can search for blogs on Google Blogs: see their advanced search form for ways of specifying blogs of interest to you. Technorati is another popular blog search engine: http://technorati.com/, and Bloglines works as both a blog search engine and a feed reader: it will make recommendations of similar blogs to those you've already chosen (see below for information about handling blogs and feed readers).
  3. If you've put together a targetted Google search, you can also set up a Google Alert so that you get regular e-mails of new material meeting your search criteria.
  4. Once you've found one blog of interest, look on that blog for links to other blogs that they have found (sometimes called a "blogroll").
  5. If you blog yourself and people comment there, you may find that they also have blogs.

FOLLOWING AND READING BLOGS

If you only want to follow one or two blogs, look out for the option to subscribe via your e-mail address, so that you can read their content amongst your e-mail. If the blog you are interested in doesn't offer this, you could always leave a comment asking whether they could set it up for you. Many blog authors love to hear from their readers.

As you find more blogs of interest to you, you may need a way of collecting at least some of them so that you can read their entries when and how it suits you, rather than having them pop up amongst an already busy e-mail account. An efficient way to do this is to use an RSS feed reader, which is a tool that will aggregate the entries from the blogs you've found (amongst other types of content) and present them to you in a customisable way.

RSS feeds are a mechanism by which content is pushed into another environment than that in which it was originally published. Any blog that uses blogging software will have an RSS feed. Note that your RSS feed reader can also be useful for keeping up to date with other kinds of published content such as podcasts and journal or search alerts, and not only blogs: some will even work with e-mail accounts, so that you can choose to view your e-mail in your RSS feed reader!  

When you collect RSS feeds, you might feel that you're giving yourself more work to do. Following all these blogs could be a whole lot of work, but you don't need to treat it that way. Just because you know a new posting has been made to a blog of interest to you, you don't have to read it... after all, you don't read every page of a journal. 

The two feed readers I hear about most often are Google Reader and Bloglines but there are plenty of others. When choosing a feed reader, look out for features that help you to organise the feeds in ways that suit your needs. You can try one feed reader out and then export the feeds to import into a new feed reader, if you want to explore more.

We have a video describing more about RSS feeds at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/main/help/training/rss/

TIME-SAVING TIPS FOR FOLLOWING RESEARCH BLOGS

If there is a blog of crucial relevance to your work and you check your e-mail regularly but you're never going to check your feed reader more than once a month then combining a subscription to the crucial blog in your e-mail whilst watching other sources in your feed reader would be a good approach.

Quickly unsubscribe to any feed that appears less relevant than you thought or produces more content than you could ever follow. Consider adding the URL of the blog to your favourites, and you could go and search that blog for content on a specific topic when you need to know about their work.

You can install a "notifier" on your desktop, so that your feed reader can tell you when there is new content waiting for you to read.

Get your RSS feeds on your phone or on an iGoogle page or in any other environment that you like to use already.

If you maintain your own blog, you can look for functions in your feed reader to to publish your blogroll from there.

See a librarian about ways to optimise your alert notifications and RSS feed subscriptions to suit your own working style!


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