All entries for December 2011
December 20, 2011
And so we come to the final thing on the programme. For this all we ask is that you write a final blog post evaluating your participation in the programme.
For this you might like to think about:
- which thing/s you found most useful
- which thing/s you most enjoyed doing
- which thing/s you will continue to use
- what impact you think social media is having/will have on the future of scholarly communication
In addition please can you quickly look back through all of your blog posts to make sure you've written about each thing.
And when you've done that.... you can register your completion. The final date to register your completion of the programme is Sunday 8th January, so there’s still time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind.
Following the programme you might like to continue exploring new tools. Listed below are some events and resources that might help:
- Digital Researcher 2012 – an event running in February 2012 organised jointly by Vitae and the British Library.
- Organising references using Mendeley – a workshop for Warwick students running in February organised by Salma Patel.
- Twitter for researchers – a workshop for Warwick students running in the New Year. Keep an eye out for details on the Research Exchange website and social media accounts.
- LSE Impact blog – particularly useful are the resources and popular posts pages.
And finally, keep an eye out for details of the next PhD Network event where we would like to recognise the achievements of our 23 Things for the Digital Professional participants.
December 13, 2011
YouTube is the biggest video sharing website on the web. It has a wealth of content and provides some information about that content, such as how many times each clip has been viewed, and from which part of the world it has been viewed. Thing 22 requires you to find and share YouTube content relevant to your research. You will also be asked to provide a short commentary on the videos.
YouTube for researchers
YouTube has two distinct applications for research.
- You can use YouTube to present your own research outputs. This is becoming common as a means of reporting on ‘research in progress.’ For practical advice on producing video content, see my guide on video essays for the Wolfson Research Exchange.
- You can use YouTube as a primary data source. Always keep in mind the issues of value and validity. Who has uploaded this video, and why? There are also problems over the stability of YouTube as a data source, as this interview with Dr. Fanar Haddad makes clear.
Finding YouTube content
Locating relevant material can be a challenge on a fluid site like YouTube. The site has just updated its design as well, but this handy guide should answer any questions you have about layout or functionality. Sign in, either using your Google account, or creating an account via the button at the top left.
You’re now ready to start searching! Remember:
- the query bar at the top allows for keyword searches, which you can then filter
- pay attention to who has uploaded the content
- if it is a trusted source, explore their other videos
- it’s worth subscribing to YouTube channels of organisations and institutions directly relevant to your research.
Sharing YouTube content
Thing 22 is to find and share two YouTube videos relevant to your research. We also want you to comment on why you are sharing this content and why you think it is useful.
As Dr. Haddad suggests in the video above, downloading YouTube videos is one way of preserving them. Using these step-by-step instructions, download your chosen videos.
- YouTube Creators blog (useful commentary on the site redesign)
- YouTube Help (first port of call for troubleshooting questions)
- Dr Fanar Haddad interview (reflection on YouTube for researchers)
- Video essays (video essays in Film Studies, with links to editing and uploading advice)
Prezi is a presentation tool that emphasises the connections between ideas. It presents an alternative to Powerpoint for conferences or seminars. Using Prezi can be a good way to ensure listeners remember your message! Thing 21 is to create a dynamic Prezi presentation on an aspect of your research.
Advantages of Prezi
First of all, let’s look at a video of Prezi in action:
As you can see, there’s an exciting freedom to Prezi’s visual style. The tool has two main advantages:
- It presents ideas as continuous, not broken into slides. This ‘open canvas’ approach allows you to scale information and images according to importance. It is also useful to focus in on detail, then zoom out to show the bigger picture.
- It does not require extra software. All you need to run Prezi is an online computer with Adobe Flash 10. This is particularly helpful in a conference situation, where laptops and flash drives can prove incompatible!
‘Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts absolutely!’
This striking statement comes from Edward Tufte, Yale Professor of Political Science, Statistics and Computer Science, quoted in the London Evening Standard. Tufte is one of the most vocal critics of Powerpoint as a presentation tool, arguing that it eradicates nuance and limits creativity. See the links under further information for other reasons to use Prezi over Powerpoint.
Creating your presentation
For Thing 21, we want you to create a simple Prezi presentation and blog about how you get on with it. Perhaps you can repurpose an old Powerpoint: the important thing is that you communicate an idea. Think about how Prezi’s features will help you get your message across.
Sign up to Prezi, selecting the Student/Teacher license which grants you 500MB free. Then watch these videos to get you started:
Now look at this step-by-step tutorial on Prezi basics. Putting your presentation together should take you about an hour – once you’re done, publish your Prezi on your blog! A guide for sharing your Prezi is listed in the further information below.
- How to create a good Prezi (a useful guide by Prezi founder Adam Somlai-Fisher)
- Tips on navigating the canvas
- Tips on grouping, framing and zooming
- Sharing your Prezi
- ‘Why Powerpoint makes us stupid’ (an article that explores the dangers of presentation software)
- Top 5 reasons to use Prezi instead of Powerpoint
December 12, 2011
The author of this week's theme is Nicolas Pillai. Nicolas is an early career researcher in the department of Film and Television Studies. His latest research looks at the comic book's transmedia properties. Nicolas will be supporting your progress this week through comments on your blogs, or you can contact him via his eportfolio.
Multimedia tools allow us to promote research in the wider world. They involve a process of conversion, as we transform our ideas into visual representations. These tools allow us to engage not just with peers and experts, but also with non-academic audiences. Inevitably, this brings with it a unique set of anxieties.
The idea of balance will be important to both of this theme’s “things.” As I suggest in the video, it’s your research that must be the focus of any multimedia presentation. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it look pretty!
We will be exploring two kinds of multimedia:
- media created by you (Prezi presentations)
- media created by others (Youtube videos)
How do we, as researchers, make use of both kinds of media? Throughout this week’s tasks, it’s important to keep asking yourself how these tools can contribute not just to your own research activities, but also to teaching and to wider impact beyond the research sector.
Here are some questions to get you started:
How can I use multimedia in my research?
Creating a presentation on an aspect of your research can be a valuable process, allowing you to identify key points more clearly. Presentations are a powerful tool for disseminating your research at conferences and symposia, contributing to your researcher identity as well as provoking questions from your research community. We will also be looking at how multimedia can be used as a research tool, and the methodological issues that raises.
How can I use multimedia in my teaching?
Students respond well to multimedia teaching. Using YouTube in lectures can help to illustrate a point or raise questions. Some academics post videos of their lectures online, a great way of demonstrating confidence and accomplishment.
How can I use multimedia for impact?
Sharing is a social media watchword at the moment. Adding multimedia tools to your repertoire lets you distinguish yourself and stand out from the crowd. As well as creating the opportunity for collaboration, sharing your media allows you to reach non-academic audiences and involve them in your research.
December 05, 2011
So far we’ve explored some of the online services on offer to researchers, which can help make collaboration easier, more productive and enjoyable, and hopefully you are now feeling a little bit more confident and open to collaborating. The best way to start is by engaging with a well-established collaborative team, on a project that most of us use everyday (even if we pretend not to): Wikipedia. This is surprisingly easy to do, even if you are not a technological wiz kid. Although Wikipedia started as an encyclopaedia written by “experts”, academics are not all contributing and it could be a valuable arena with which to engage and disseminate research. If your article is linked from Wikipedia, more people will read your work and your repository statistics will improve— and because Wikipedia is not a specialist academic encyclopedia, your research will have reach and impact beyond the academic community.
Researchers at Warwick are referenced on Wikipedia, for example the work of Prof. Jacqueline Labbe (English; Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies) on eighteenth-century writer Charlotte Smith is extensively referenced, and includes several talking-head videos of her discussing the life of Charlotte Smith, which can also be found on Youtube. Click on the link in Further Information (below) for examples of Warwick (WRAP) papers referenced in Wikipedia.
For the final Thing in “Collaborative Working” we are asking you to join the Wikipedia community and edit a page of your choosing (no matter how small your contribution is). You can start by simply engaging with your research field, or a field of interest. Perhaps you have recently read something of interest that is not referenced on a Wikipedia page. Simply click on the “edit” tab at the top of the page (not all pages are editable, but most are). This will bring up a text box with the editable text, to which you can then add. Help with formatting is readily available. Just follow these step-by-step instructions to get started.
Congratulations! You are now a collaborator!
- Guardian article on scholarly use of Wikipedia
- Examples of Warwick (WRAP) papers referenced in Wikipedia
- Prof. Jacqueline Labbe’s talking-head videos on Charlotte Smith (referenced on Wikipedia)
Collaboration requires a lot of on-the-go technology—phone, laptop, iPad, office computer—which in turn can create a great deal of confusion when it comes to tracking down the documents you save on each. Where did you save that file? Video? Photo attachment? If it is on your home computer and you are working at university, and that piece of information suddenly becomes crucial, it not only stalls the entire operation, but can also make you seem unorganised and unprofessional. Unless you are superhuman, and have an immense photographic memory (which I definitely don’t) you are going to need all the help you can get to keep track of the documents you pass between yourselves, keep them up to date, and be able to put your hands on them whenever required.
Why should you use Dropbox:
Dropbox is one such service that keeps track of your documents, files, photos and videos, using cloud storage to synchronize files across the internet so that they can be shared amongst users, between computers, and any mobile device that can access the internet. Importantly, Dropbox actively encourages users to share files with others by setting you up with a “Public Folder” when you register for an account. It is the only folder on Dropbox that automatically creates a public “link” to every file you put into it. Sharing the file is then straightforward. Simply click on the public folder, and right click on the file you want to share. Navigate to the Dropbox menu and click “Copy Public Link”. You can then save the link to your clipboard and paste it into any web browser you want (such as Twitter, for example). If you want to share a file with a limited number of individuals, you do not need to use the public folder. Simply create a subfolder of the files you want to share, right click it, navigate to “Options” and click “Share this folder”, you can then add the email addresses of your collaborators to the text field.
For Thing 19, we are asking you to share a document using Dropbox. Use these step-by-step instructions to get started.
- Making use of Dropbox (covers all the ins and outs of Dropbox)
- Dropbox instructions (NB: these will be useful if you are using a computer that is not on campus: you will probably be unable to install Dropbox software onto your computer if it is networked on campus.)
Most people who have worked on a collaborative project will tell you the same thing: working with others is not easy. The logistics of circulating a document amongst a team, let alone agreeing edits and /or revisions, can be a mammoth task. There can be endless emails, meetings and a muddle of attachments with “track changes”, or a jumble of saved files with various different names, and no way of knowing which is the most up-to-date. Things can quickly descend into confusion and tempers can flare. Collaboration is not just about producing a good conference paper or publication; the connections we make on these journeys are just as important, and can last our entire careers, helping to facilitate other projects and allowing us to make further connections. It is therefore vital that we conduct ourselves professionally and make the process as smooth as possible, which will not only improve the quality of the work we produce, but will impress the people we work with—potentially leading to other, progressively bigger projects.
GoogleDocs offers researchers one of the most convenient ways to collaborate on a document, without the back and forth of emails. Once you’ve created a document, simply click the blue “share” tab at the top of the page. In the Sharing Settings pane click “change” and select “Anyone with the link”, and then save. This will allow you to add the email addresses of those you would like to share the document with. Once your colleague receives the file, they simply have to click on the link to open the file and start editing. You can then edit the file together in real time, and GoogleDocs will track the revisions you both make, saving them automatically.
How to collaborate using GoogleDocs:
For Thing 18 we are asking you to create and share a document with GoogleDocs. To get started use the step-by-step instructions provided by Google:
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.
“Collaborate” is a tag often thrown around academia, and not everyone understands its significance. It can be inherent in what we do— say if, for example, we work in a lab or as part of a larger research project that requires collaboration in order to meet its goal. But to other researchers, its use may not be so obvious. We may have to be prompted to consider it as something worth our time and effort, especially when it seems easier to work in isolation. In actual fact, it is likely that we are all “collaborating” in one way or another, whether we realise it or not. By responding to a critic in our thesis, or by engaging with a reading group, network, class—all this is collaboration.
As researchers from the Science Policy and Research Unit from the University of Sussex have outlined, the international research community could be considered as one big collaboration in the sense that every research activity we undertake is contributing to a larger global activity, advancing the field we work in— whether that be biological sciences, statistics, applied linguistics, or eighteenth century literature.
The “Collaborative Working” tutorial will therefore explore a variety of online tools that can help facilitate collaborative work, and help us appreciate this important aspect of academia. GoogleDocs can help us collaborate on a document together in real time, avoiding sending attachments back and forth, while Dropbox allows us to store and share files with others using file synchronization, avoiding the problems that can arise when using a variety of technology. Once we feel confident with these technologies, we can then attempt to do some “real life” collaboration by updating the content on Wikipedia, thus prompting us to fully engage with this idea of “global collaboration”.
Each of these three things will also allow us to consider the connections we make with other researchers more fully, to be aware of the ways in which we collaborate, while helping us to forge new connections and to collaborate in different, and perhaps even unexpected, ways.