Referencing on the go.

Reading, referencing and recording whose ideas fit where is a major part of my focus at the moment.  All budding PhD students are recommended by their supervisors to get into a system for referencing and filing references as early in their study as possible.

Diligently I have been reading articles and noting down important points in my ‘evernote’ notebooks. Equally as diligently I went to an ‘endnote’ training sessions at my uni library and hoped that this system of recording references would be for me.

While at the training session it all seemed to make sense, I was able to find articles and import them into ‘endnote’ and then reference them in my word document. The only thing that didn’t really ‘mesh’ for me was the need to copy the database to a thumb drive for back up and to update other places the database was stored (the session leader recommended this). Of course I asked about the option of cloud backup, but it seems this has not been reliable for this software in the past. The session leader thought I may be interested in ‘refworks’ for cloud backup.

A couple of weeks later a colleague of mine sent me an invitation to try ‘Mendeley’. I waited a bit to look at it, but when I did look I was very pleased with what I found. It is far more intuitive than ‘endnote’ seems to me, within minutes I was clipping web logs and articles to it, and it was filing them away. It is like ‘evernote’ in that the version you download on your device/desktop syncs with an online, cloud based account. You are able to share and annotate files. It works with ‘endnote’ too, as you can import your ‘endnote’ database to ‘Mendeley’.  ‘Mendeley’ also works with MSOffice, and open office when you are writing.

I am sure ‘endnote’ has many great features, but I am not sure I have the patience to find out. ‘Mendeley’ seems to be intuitive to use and has the cloud based backup that gives me piece of mind. It also means I can write and access my references where ever I am in the world, on whichever device I am using.  I think I have found my preferred filing system…now back to reading 😀

Fiona T



Our shrinking world…

We live in exciting times. The world is shrinking! This isn’t due to some complicated physics phenomena, it is due to the internet.

The last 7 days have seen me (and my little blog) make contact with the ‘outside’ world. Thanks to my excitement and the resulting posts about Skype and Evernote, a couple of people out there in the ethers of the internet have found my blog and commented and then promoted my blog on their site, or tweeted about it.  Both Digitwirl and Dr. Vijay Vaishnav have commented on my ramblings and are excited about the possibilities that the internet offers to make our lives easier.

Regular readers may be familiar with Digitwirl from my Evernote review posts.

East is East and West is West outlines how Dr. Vijay is using Skype while he is in America to treat his patients at home in India. Very interesting, and has exciting applications for people in remote sites too.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog:

This week I again Skyped with my BB about some work we are doing. It occurred to me that our research work and writing is such a solitary endeavour, and how technology is helping to reduce the isolation we can feel by providing a range  of things, including video conferencing and 24 hour access to the online world for our research.

Having done very little academic research or writing since completing my masters some years ago, I have been re-reading papers from my masters days (yes, physical papers, with hand written notes and highlighting).  I now need to move on from the old papers and start to find more recent studies in my methodological area. Inspired from my Skype with BB on Friday evening I began that very night (after getting LT off to sleep that is) to look for some up to date articles to see how the methodology I am using has developed in the last 8-10 years. All it took was a search on the author and title of my ‘foundation’ article and the word “cited” at the start and google did the rest.  In forty five minutes I had found approximately five recent citations of each of 3 foundation articles. Some are in journals that I need password access for (so at present these are a dead end for me) while a number of others are direct down loadable PDF documents, and others link to current (yes, 2011) blogs from these leaders in my field of research. So now I have a few articles to read and see how they progress my methodology (or not).

I can’t help but think back to the ‘old days’ when research required hours in a library (see my post ‘what does it mean to be paperless‘) and so much leg work, that I now see it as wasted research time. I can’t help but be excited and eager to begin to research and be able to find the majority of things I need quickly and easily. And the best bit is that by saving all this legwork time I hope to always have time to write a post a week on this blog 🙂

So, now the blog is done for this week and I am off to read an article or two now…How does the internet/technology save you time? What do you use that new ‘spare time’ for?

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