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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

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".

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 16, 2011

Hootsuite: keeping Twitter in its place!

Writing about web page

I've resisted the charms and attractions of Twitter, until recently. It keeps intruding into my professional life though, and I can't ignore it any longer! I go to an event and there is a hashtag advertised for twitterers to use. Or I can't go but I can look at the event website and follow the twitterers who are there, and so get a sense of what is happening. Twitter is undoubtedly useful but it needs to be kept in its place. I have enough to do!

Warwick PhD students on on the 23 Things for the Digital Researcher course have been asked to tweet, and as a co-ordinating tutor , I have wanted to show support for our course participants by tweeting too. (Does that make me a 'Twuutor'? I love all the fun to be had with the name 'Twitter'!)

We're using Twitter to keep in touch with researchers and PhD students who use the Wolfson Research Exchange (fondly known as REx) and who also tweet. The REx itself has a twitter account: @ResearchEx, but I want to tweet in my own name too, including the entries from this blog.

How do I tweet as both me and the REx and not lose hours of my life?! Here is the story of one possible answer...

I like to schedule my blog entries in advance when I have lots to write about and time to write it. So I asked a colleague who tweets and blogs (Emma Cragg:, whether it is possible to do this with tweets on Twitter. Emma tweeted to ask her contacts and back came the answer "". (Thanks to Emma and her Twits!)

I found that I need to use Hootsuite in Mozilla Firefox: like so many great tools, it doesn't work properly for me in Internet Explorer. No matter, I'm used to having at least 2 browsers open! With Hootsuite, I can now view on one screen for my own Twitter account, all the tweets of those who I follow, all tweets '@' me and any direct messages for me via Twitter. Then on another tab I can view the same for the REx Twitter account, and I've also added my LinkedIn account, so that from one tool, I can monitor several social networking sites. I could also add Facebook, but that is more for my real friends these days so I don't want to link that one to my other accounts...

Even more cleverly though, I can tweet from Hootsuite as myself or as the REx, or even post an update to LinkedIn... I never do that latter but maybe one day I might. And I can schedule my tweets, so I can write a load at the beginning of each week... and stay active on Twitter without having to be tied to it 24/7.

Let's hope that I can keep Twitter in its place, as a useful tool to share information about my work and possible also to communicate with professional contacts, and stop it from becoming a burden or a distraction... feathers crossed!

July 04, 2011

How close are you to gaining one more point on your h–index score?

Writing about web page

Last week I found out about a Mozilla Firefox extension which I've linked to from this post. It looks very useful in that it calculates the h-index and various other index scores for the results of any search you perform on Google Scholar, once you've installed it. If you're an author wanting to know your own h-index then the trick is to get your results set to include all of your own works. The advanced analysis feature of the extension allows you to un-tick certain results from the calculations presented in the panel at the top of your results set.

Only 100 results are processed in the analysis, so it isn't going to be a great tool for those with hundreds of publications to their name.

The tool presents not only the h-index but also the g-index, which gives extra weighting to citations from papers which are highly cited themselves, and an e-index which counts "excess citations". You can read more about the e-index on PLoS One article published in 2009 at:

It also presents a “delta-h” and "delta-g" score which looks really useful for authors who want to know how close they are to raising their index scores.

March 16, 2011


Writing about web page

I created a profile on ResearcherID myself today. Until now I haven't bothered, because I have published no articles that Web of Science have indexed... but I had a go so that I can tell researchers about it, and it's relatively easy to just add your name and a description. It should be easy to add your publications too, from the look of things: you can upload from EndNote Web or you can search in Web of Science and add them directly. Once you've added your publications, you can decide whether to allow members of the public to see these or not... and they can also see information about citations to your publications.

Now that I have a ResearcherID, I could create a "badge" to add to my blog or website, which would link through to my ResearcherID profile. I'm not so keen since it says very little about me, but if I were a reasearcher with publications in WoS which are cited, this could be useful as a way of promoting my work and its high impact.

After creating my own profile, I had a quick look at how many others from the University of Warwick have created a profile: 125 have spelt the word University correctly and declared "University of Warwick" and two others with typo variations on the word "University", plus 15 who have declared that their institution is "Warwick University"...