All entries for Monday 28 November 2011

November 28, 2011

Thing 17: Arrange a meeting using Doodle

Have you ever doodled with Doodle? This free internet calendar tool is all about easy scheduling. In the manic world that is academia— where you often have to balance home life, teaching, research and extra-curricular activities— finding a suitable time for people to meet, who have such different timetables and demands, wastes precious time. Yet, the nature of academia requires that we meet with others on a regular basis, thrash out ideas and make time to collaborate. Anything that makes this task even fractionally easier is good news. The basic set up (outlined in the step-by-step instructions blow) is simple and easy to use. Doodle uses a simple “polling” system which allows each individual to cast a vote on the best time for them to meet, according to the days and times that you set. Once each person has cast their vote, you can “close” the poll, and Doodle works out the most suitable time and notifies the participants by email.

The way to get the most out of Doodle is to integrate Doodle with your Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo calendar, Google calendar, or Apple iCal, which syncs your Doodle meetings with all these other calendars, updating them automatically whenever you set up a poll. Who needs a diary? Doodle does all the remembering for you. On the page click ‘Calendar Connect’ and then select ‘Connect with Google’, or whichever service you use. You will then be redirected to a page which will allow you to connect with your calendar instantly.

More information about using Doodle Calendar Connect can be found on the Doodle website.

For Thing 17, we are asking you to arrange a meeting using Doodle: perhaps invite fellow 23 Things participants. You don’t even need to register to set up a meeting, only to administer it. Follow the step-by-step instructions in this video to get started :

Thing 16: Explore social reference management site Mendeley

Gone are the days when researchers spent hours and hours scribbling down every reference on bits of paper and reference cards, and then trying to scramble these together for a bibliography. There are now a number of social reference management sites that do all the hard work for us, while making collaboration easier than ever before. Amongst them, Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks and Papers, are the most popular (there are also PC-based packages such as EndNote and Reference Manager). My favourite is Mendeley: quick to set up, accessible, easy to use, safe, and above all, the basic package is free (unlike EndNote, Reference Manager and RefWorks which are subscription based). It is Mendeley that I would therefore like us to explore, although the others are well worth a visit.

How Mendeley Can Help Your Research:

Importantly, just like Delicious, Mendeley encourages collaboration. With the feature ‘Groups’ you can share documents with you lab or students, or with the wider community of researchers in your field.

After you’ve created your profile using the step-by-step guide below, click on the Groups link at the top of the page. From this page, you will then be able to select "Create Your Own Group". On the Group Creation form you can set the name, description, tags, discipline area and privacy level of the Group. In the settings pane you can then add members. Your group can either be private or public. Crucially, public groups are accessible to anyone on the Mendeley, so you can use this as a way of raising your academic profile by creating interest around your field of research, adding your own publications to the group, and managing your Mendeley research profile—which can also be public or private as you choose.

One useful feature is the Mendeley Desktop which, amongst other things, has an automatic newsfeed on which any articles that are added by yourself or other group members— along with any comments, highlights or edits you, or anyone else in the group, adds to an article— are visible and automatically updated.

For Thing 16 we are asking you to register with and explore Mendeley using these step-by-step instructions.

Additional things

  • Papers is a social reference management site, often used by scientists

Further information

Thing 15: Bookmarking with Delicious

There are three main aspects to Delicious that make it a handy service:

  • Organise: Save URLs (or links) in the Delicious bookmark tool
  • Manage: Collect and build links around a common theme
  • Share: Share your links with other users and find and follow Delicious collectors with similar interests.

The great thing about Delicious is that it can be used in a variety of situations. So, for example, while I have collected links around the theme of Jane Austen in preparation for an article I hope to publish, I have also been able to build a stack of links on the theme of the Romantic Period Novel and share it with my students and colleagues, making it either private (for a select group) or public (available to all Delicious users).

How to Use a Social Bookmarking site:

Crucially, Delicious allows you to increase your search power and locate the best resources on the internet by engaging with other users, utilising a “collective intelligence” that has only been realised in recent years. With over 15 billion web pages on the internet, it can be very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff—to pick out the best bits of information. One way you can optimise the benefits of Delicious is by building up a network of “friends” (there are 5.3 million users of Delicious), selecting those with similar research interests, “following” them (just like you would on Twitter) and letting them do all the hard research for you—just like a good friend should! Simply click on their profile and select “follow”.

For thing 15 we’re asking you to register for Delicious and bookmark or “tag” some useful sites. Follow the step-by-step instructions to get started.

Further information

Getting organised

The author for this week's theme is Francesca Scott. Francesca is a doctoral researcher in the department of English and Comparative Literature. Her research focuses on the history of midwifery, female sexuality and female health in the eighteenth century. She will be supporting your progress this week through your blogs. Or you can contact Francesca through her Research Match profile.

The phrase “getting organised” tends to fill us with dread. When we sit down with a new research project in front of us, observe with horror the extent of the task before us, our urge is to start blindly researching in a mad panic. We might start by randomly typing key words into Google, find some interesting sites, but forget to bookmark them, or end of with hundreds of bookmarks without any coherence. Or we might start scribbling down quotes, references and citations on bits of paper, which then end up in a jumble, tucked into books, at the bottom of bags, or—worse still— in that stack of papers we all have somewhere in our homes. Compiling a bibliography or a reading list can then suddenly descend into anarchy. Coping with other people’s organisation (or the lack of it) can be equally stressful. In academia, people live busy lives, and finding a suitable time to sit down as a team, a class, a network or even as a reading group, to discuss the next step, or to outline the scope of the research project, can be a daunting task.

The “Getting Organised” tutorial seeks to address these three particularly troublesome areas of academic life. To help with the problem of organising bookmarks we have Delicious, a social bookmarking web service, which allows us to save, collect and share links of interest. To avoid destroying an entire rainforest, there is Mendeley, a social reference management site which allows us to collate and share research papers and also format our references, without ever having to write on a piece of paper. Finally, we will explore Doodle, a calendar tool that can be used to coordinate meetings, and thus avoid that endless backwards and forwards of emails.

Other than allowing us to feel more in control of our academic and —by extension— personal lives, “Getting Organised” facilitates sharing and collaboration; each “thing” prompts you to connect with people outside of your discipline and even outside of academia, with, for example, relevant and important industries, thus helping you to raise your academic profile, improve your research and/or strengthen the relationship you have with your students.

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  • Hi Doug, Which page is that? Can you provide a link so that I can update it if it's one of ours. Tha… by Emma Cragg on this entry
  • The video on the dropbox page is a video about Mendelay. by doug bamford on this entry
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