All 27 entries tagged Research Skills

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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.


May 31, 2012

Digital tools for research wiki now live

Follow-up to 22 May launch of 'Digital Tools for Research': online course for Warwick's researchers. from Library Research Support

University of Warwick researchers can now register and get started on our wiki-based course about using digital tools. More information is available on the Research Exchange's Early Career Researcher website.


May 18, 2012

22 May launch of 'Digital Tools for Research': online course for Warwick's researchers.

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/news/intnews2/digital_tools_research

Yesterday, I attended an event on "Embracing digital tools as an academic", where researchers discussed technology tools that they had been using and the ways in which they were useful. It's part of the work of the Digital Change programme at the University of Warwick.

There were three panel members, and they gave their examples first, before discussion was opened to the floor. A lot of the discussion was about Twitter and its use/value, and the question was asked "How long does it take to compose a tweet?"

The examples from the panel were all different: one researcher used a suite of different technology tools to manage all his research online (he was particularly keen on Evernote), and so although he has a Twitter channel, he never has to actually compose a tweet. Another researcher is very active in chatting and direct messaging on Twitter, and can spend some time composing the exact 140 characters to express her views on a conference or a research related thought. And the third panel member took the approach which I relate to most, being a combination of considered reflections on a blog and quick thoughts on Twitter, with feeds from the blog onto Twitter as well.

I came away from the event even more convinced of the value to researchers of investigating all sorts of tools, and finding ways to make them work for your own style of research and your own needs.

Which means that it is perfect timing that we are about to launch our "Digital tools for Research" online training programme for Early Career Researchers, building on the work previously done for PhD students in the blog based course "23 Things for the Digital Professional".


March 21, 2012

Finding journal articles when we have no subscription

Warwick has a large and excellent collection of journal subscriptions but we don't subscribe to every journal! I sometimes find myself giving this same advice to PhD students, about finding journal articles in full text when we have no subscription to the journal(s) that they want access to.

If there are particular journal articles that you want access to, then you might be able to find some for free by searching on Google. In my experience, Google is better than Google Scholar at finding open access articles, if you already know article title and author to search by. Another place to look for open access versions of journal articles would be on a repository cross-searching tool like BASE for open access early versions of the articles.

Students can also complete document supply requests, with the support of a supervisor. Or if you can find a library which subscribes to a print version of the journal then you could possibly arrange to visit that library (see the Library advice page on Using other Libraries). COPAC is a good website to use, to find out about other libraries’ holdings, as it is a union catalogue of a number of UK research libraries.


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.


October 20, 2011

Data Management: after the JISC Webinar!

Writing about web page http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/2011/10/webinarmrd.aspx

I recently attended a virtual seminar run by the JISC, on the topic of data management. Slides and a recording of the event are available online at the link above. A summary of what picked up on follows. Also, since the Webinar, a colleague has highlighted the following Warwick pages on data management to me: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/gov/informationsecurity/universitydata/researchdata/

Sarah Porter's slides covered what the JISC offers on the topic of Data Management. They recognize the need for institutional policies, and clarity over roles and responsibilities within an institution. Researchers often define "data" very differently. FOI requests at Universities are increasing.

Simon Hodson's presentation had a great slide on the research data lifecycle and my favourite part of it was where the researchers should select what is to be kept and what is to be discarded! The kept data might be handed over to a repository.

On top of this cycle, Simon imposed an institutional cycle, to support good data management practice: this is rather a blue-print for how an institution can respond: It begins with 'Guidance and Policy Development' and goes on to 'Training and Information'. Then there is 'Support for Data Management Planning' and then 'RDM Systems and infrastructure' and then 'Publication and Citation mechanisms' (recognition, rewards and benefits for data sharing, etc). There then follows a flurry of useful links. I've collated links from both presentations which stood out for me, below.

Simon's slides then visit the theme of costing data archiving, including evidence of the cost saving for centralizing data archiving.

Guidance for researchers

DCC How-To Guides: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/how-guides
(On topics such as: –Appraise and select research data for curation –How to license research data –How to develop a data management and sharing plan)

DCC Data Management Plan Online tool: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/dmponline

JISC Q&A on ‘Freedom of Information and Research Data’: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2010/foiresearchdata.aspx

How to cite data: DCC Briefing Paper on Data Citation and Linking: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/briefing-papers/introduction-curation/data-citation-and-linking

UK Data Archive has stuff for Programme level data management (most other stuff is project level): http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/media/257765/ukdadatamanagementrecommendations_centresprogrammes.pdf

At other institutions

Video materials:

PhD students

JISC's Five projects to design and pilot (reusable) discipline-focussed training units for postgraduate courses: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/mrd/rdmtrain.aspx - I visited these pages and the projects should all now be completed (by 31 July 2011) so this is worth further exploration. Edinburgh's "MANTRA" looks particularly interesting, being non-discipline specific, and at first glance I'm interested in their packages relating to SPSS, which is used by many researchers. CAiRO also seems especially interesting in that it's about data from live arts departments, which is perhaps a less obvious form of reserach data.

Data management policies

RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/Pages/DataPolicy.aspx

Overview of funder policies: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/data-management-plans/funders-requirements

DMP Checklist: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/webfm_send/431 (This refers to the online tool as the most up to date version of this guidance, but it is a different format.)


September 28, 2011

You said, We responded…

Follow-up to Information skills at Warwick: researchers' views. from Library Research Support

I have already blogged about the results of our information skills survey but recently I created this handy table to describe our work in a more succinct way:

You said: We responded by:
Researchers seek support from other researchers. a) Research Exchange website content is produced by researchers for researchers. See guides and blog articles, etc online: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/researchexchange/ecr/resources Also see the Researcher to Researcher blog: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/researcherlife/
b) Research Exchange website is piloting “Research Match”: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/researchexchange/ecr/community This is a light touch profiles tool, designed to connect researchers with other researchers.
‘Assessing the quality of information found’ was the skill most highly valued. More emphasis on the evaluation of information quality is now covered in the e literature search skills workshops for the Research Student Skills Programme (RSSP) for PhD students: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/rssp
The top five skills researchers wish to develop are:
1) discovering unpublished resources;
2) using reference management software;
3) developing effective search strategies;
4) knowing where to publish their work;
5) filtering search results.

These themes are covered by many of the new blog and guide materials that are now available on the Research Exchange website.

The Modern Records Centre delivers training sessions on how to exploit archival resources.

The Library’s contribution to the Research Student Skills Programme covers these themes.

The Library contributes a session on Getting Published to the PCAPP course.

Springer will also be hosting an authors’ workshop in the Research Exchange on the morning of 30th November and other publishers are being invited to present at Warwick too: keep an eye out on the Research Exchange website or join one of the networks to receive further details.

Online tutorials: researchers reported that most useful features of online courses were: textual information, visuals, videos, links to external resources and guided activities. The Library is piloting an online course “23 Things for the Digital Professional” which will run in the forthcoming Autumn term 2011 for a target cohort of PhD students (although anyone can register). This course will cover aspects of the five themes listed above, introducing web-based tools to participants. The course will run separately for research staff in a slightly modified format, across the Spring and Summer terms of 2012.

September 12, 2011

Keeping up to date

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network

I took part in one of the Guardian's online "Q&A" sessions recently, on the theme of surviving your first academic post. How it seems to work is that an article introducing the theme and the experts is put onto the website, and then participants are invited at a particular time, whereupon they all start writing in the comments stream for that article and the experts start responding.

As an experience, it was rather disorientating and I confess that I dropped out of the conversation after 30 or so comments, because I couldn't follow all the different threads and different people. I went back to scan through the posts later, and I had a look at other such "Q&A" sessions too: there are some gems of advice and handy links amongst the content, but you do have to wade through a lot of other people's concerns! I might have persevered if I had a question to put to the experts myself.

It made me think about how I might like to host an online "Q&A" for our researchers, and I think it would not be a live session, but we would ask researchers to post questions in advance. I guess that the attraction of the session is that it takes place at a particular time, and you'd lose the sponteneity of people's questions/ideas prompted by others, but you would gain a structure that visitors could follow. Something for me to think about some more!


September 06, 2011

Information skills at Warwick: researchers' views.

Follow-up to Survey of Information skills preferences from Library Research Support

In January this year (2011) the Library ran a survey of research staff, on information skills that are valued and that might be developed, amongst University of Warwick researchers. We had over 400 responses and are very grateful to all who took part for the rich and valuable data provided. We have been reviewing the findings of the survey and have used these findings to shape the Library’s information skills offer in the following ways:

- Research Exchange website content is produced by researchers for researchers.
- Research Exchange website is piloting “Research Match”: a light touch profiles tool, designed to connect researchers with other researchers.

Warwick researchers are most likely to turn to other researchers for help with their information skills. 246 said researchers within their department, 119 would ask researchers outside their department. There are a wealth of guides on the Research Exchange website, written by researchers with experience in the topics that they write about: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/researchexchange/ecr/resources

- Effective literature search skills for Research Student Skills Programme (RSSP) participants: more on evaluation of information quality.

Library staff teach PhD students on Warwick's RSSP. One question in our survey asked “how important do you feel are each of the following skills to your work as a researcher?”. Respondents were asked to rate skills in a list on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 = highly important, and 1 = very unimportant. The mean score for each skill was calculated and the skill scoring the greatest average was found to be the “ability to assess the quality of information”. More emphasis on this skill is now being placed in the materials delivered to PhD students at the literature search training sessions which are part of the RSSP.

“Literature/information search planning skills” and the “ability to undertake internet searches for academic needs e.g. using google.” scored the joint second highest average of the information skills listed: these are themes already well covered in the RSSP workshops run by the Library.

When we broke the results down into established researchers' scores and early career researchers' (ECRs) scores, there was relatively little difference in the skills reported as important. In general the more established academic staff rate all these skills as slightly lower in importance than the ECRs with the exception of the “ability to access the quality of information” and “in-depth knowledge of sources or tools for finding published literature for your subject area and how to use them”, which established academics rated slightly more highly.

- Developing information skills materials and workshops

85.5 % of survey respondents felt that there was at least one information skill that they would like to improve, even though they could have skipped this question altogether. The top five areas in which our surveyed researchers expressed an interest in improving their skills were 1) discovering unpublished resources, 2) using reference management software, 3) developing effective search strategies, 4) knowing where to publish their work, and 5) filtering search results.

These themes are already covered in the RSSP workshops for PhD students as well as in the workshops delivered to PhD students in their departments by our Academic Support Librarians."Knowing where to publish" is also covered in a workshop for staff delivered through the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic and Professional Practice (PCAPP) programme run by Warwick's Learning and Development Centre. Our Modern Records Centre delivers training sessions on making the most of archives.

We are also inviting publishers to come to Warwick and deliver author workshops, in order to help our researchers in their understanding of the publication process when choosing where to publish. We are also commissioning online materials from researchers on these themes and have been glad to feature a series on literature searchingon the Researcher to Researcher blog.

There was only one skill which established academics were more interested in developing than the early career researchers, and that was "reference management software". ECRs ranked skills relating to networking and finding out from other researchers much more highly than the established academics did. (Such skills were the 5th and 6th most popular areas highlighted for development for ECRs, compared to 13th and 15th out of 17 options for established academics).

- Online course development: 23 Things for the Digital Professional

We asked about course delivery preferences and researchers reported that the mechanism they preferred depended on the topic being taught. A new, online course is being piloted: "23 Things for the Digital Professional" will run in the forthcoming Autumn term 2011 and it will cover aspects of the five themes including reference management software, tips for effective searching and finding unpublished resources and open access publishing. More information about this online, blog-based course will appear on this blog in due course!

Survey respondents reported that the most useful features of online courses were: textual information (64%) visuals (56%), videos, links to external resources and guided activities (38.6% each) and these will all be features of our 23 Things course.

Many thanks are due to Donna Carroll, the Library's Academic Services Development Manager for running the survey and writing the report. This survey built on the work of the East Midlands Research Support Group, with which Warwick's Library was involved in 2010: a similar survey was run at other Universities in this group and a report comparing the two surveys' results is available to members of the University of Warwick and the East Midlands Research Support Group.

If any researcher at Warwick would like to read a full copy of the report on Warwick's information skills survey or the report comparing this survey with the EMRSG survey then they should get in touch with Jenny Delasalle directly.


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