Mendeley vs EndNote -Guest Blog Post

This week one of my PhD friends, Hardimah Said,  has written a guest blog post for me. She has recently shifted her reference database from EndNote to Mendeley and agreed to write a review on her experience with Mendeley:

“I had heard about Mendeley quite a few times from friends and from reading some academic blogs, but I never really gave it a thought as my EndNote was doing a fine job for me so far. Until, recently, I came across this blog (a link recommended by one of the phdchat twitters, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/08/20/organisation-research-library-mendeley-convert/
and I don’t know what ‘special’ effect this blog had, but it made me want to instantly give it a go. I surfed the Mendeley website and 30 minutes later I had a Mendeley account and all my references from EndNote were transferred to Mendeley too.

One feature of Mendeley that I love is that it allows the detailed notes on the right side of the same window. Whereas for EndNote, any specific reference that I want to look at in detail, will need to be opened as a new window. I also like the read and annotate feature which I can’t do in EndNote. And I found that whatever EndNote can do, Mendeley can do it too; such as the Microsoft Word Plug-in.

But overall, what I like the most about Mendeley is what EndNote can’t do*.  The backup feature which allows it to be synchronised to all other devices. This is a very convenient feature which is similar to Evernote (another great app that I rely on very much every day). So I now don’t have to worry anymore about updating & saving my Endnote from my office pc to my thumb-drive, and then do the same thing to my EndNote on my pc and mac at home. I have been ‘manually syncing’ EndNote this way for the last 2 years, so the auto sync feature in Mendeley is great. Another good feature which I love is that Mendeley can be opened on the iPhone or iPad, while EndNote can’t.  I usually use my iPhone in bed before going to sleep and so now I can check Mendeley or do some reading before I start dreaming.

For now, these are the reasons why I’m a happy convert to Mendeley although I know there are more great features of Mendeley that I know will be useful to me being in an academic profession such as; sharing papers, collaborating with friends and creating my own profile for own publication.

Hardimah Said.”

Thanks Hardimah! I have been enjoying the sync feature on Mendeley too, it does take the worry out of the backing up process.

I wonder what reference system you (my readers) are relying on? Is it EndNote, Mendeley or another program? As always, feel free to share in the comments below, or over on the facebook page.

Until next week,

Fiona T

*At this time ( October 2012) we don’t have access to the latest version of EndNote via our institution. Thanks to Tilla from EndNote for her comments about the increased functionality of EndNote6.  (Blog post updated 16th October 2012)

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Why I like the Cloud…Prezi and stuff

Two posts in a weekend? Yes, and you can tell I am excited.

When I first started teaching and presenting I was interested in getting kids learning and presenting their learning in interesting ways. I have always worked in State schools, where funding and resourcing are stretched, and so was always interested in free and dynamic ICT tools. My first forays were into using Word, Publisher (which is now returning to the office package), Excel and Powerpoint with students. Yes, there is other software, some designed specifically for education, however I was never going to be able to get it in my schools, especially if this software only does one or two things, it just wont get used long term. So my first statewide presentations were about creative ways to use the software schools already had, and most schools had MSoffice.

Then, a few years later the ‘Intel Teach to the Future’ program was launched. I became a Master Trainer in this exciting project, that among other things, promoted the use of Office tools to use with students in the classroom.

Today I am reflecting on this journey. Those who are following my blog know that I am loving the free tools out there that can help organise study and work (evernote, drop box, google docs) and also have the added backup of the ‘cloud’ to help me access my ongoing projects from anywhere that I have an internet connection. In this vein I am very excited to have found (via a lovely student) and be using Prezi. Here is a link to a short presentation I made this morning, I have been using this tool for less than 5 hours now (and have done washing and bathed LT)…it’s quite fun http://prezi.com/8biqyansbnhp/why-i-like-prezi-and-the-cloud-in-general/

Now I have to get off the computer and let LT make his Prezi on lego…

Have fun!

Fiona

Evernote Review (Part 1)

I have now created an Evernote account and am busy seeing what this offers to my pursuit of a Paperless PhD.

First, I am impressed that there is quite a bit of storage available on the free version, so it may be supportive of my ‘financially neutral’ philosophy. Also, I am pleased to report, that the premium package is a mere $45 for a year…I have spent more on shoes 🙂 So If I think the increased functionality is what I need to streamline my study further, this upgrade would be a possibility.

So once signed up for my free account I was faced with a blank canvas, it is neatly set out and works around you creating ‘notebooks’ to place files in. You can write a note directly in the text box on the right hand side. Easy. There are also videos to watch to show you how to use the interface. Another great thing is that it is set up to work across devices, so you can access your storage from any computer, tablet or mobile device. It seems to be very friendly 🙂

My next mission was to upload a PDF (portable document format) file to an Evernote notebook. I searched the page and couldn’t locate an ‘upload’ or ‘attach file’ button…hmmm. Looking in my settings menu I noticed a special email address for my account…light bulb moment…you need to email to your Evernote page. A few seconds later and the three PDF files I had read and annotated over the last couple of days appeared upon my new Evernote. I was able to drag and drop them into a new notebook I created for PDF files.

Now the true test was to see if my comments transferred with the PDF file, as googledocs was unable to do this. Here is the interesting thing about Evernote, it stores the whole file. To read it, you don’t see it in a reader like on google docs, it allows you to download the document to your mobile device to be read. So in terms of archiving information, Evernote is brilliant and keeps your files exactly as they have been uploaded. However, I have yet to find a way of working on the file online, as I can in googledocs if need be. Notebooks in Evernote can be shared through Facebook or email.

Evernote also works with google accounts and a google notebook can be uploaded to Evernote at the press of a button. I was also able to send a text based email and it became a note instantly.

The only hiccup is word documents, it won’t upload them unless you have the premium package*. So this is the only drawback, so at this stage I will be unable to have all of my resources and work in the one place. I can cut and paste the content of the word document into an email and this becomes a note, with comments I have added appearing as a hyper-linked footnote. I see this as an option to back up some of my work in progress as they can be edited in the Evernote browser.

At this stage, I see myself working between googledocs and Evernote, both provide different types of backup for my developing body of work, and both allow me to select people to view and input as necessary.

Does anyone else have experience with an online tool that will allow me to combine everything in one place? What do you use? How does it make your work or study easier?

*Evernote now allows uploads of word, powerpoint and excel files in it’s free account. These can be edited and saved within Evernote. this blog post was amended on 1/8/12.

Paperless Progess

This week has been school holidays, so LT has been home and we have been galivanting and visiting friends. I have, however, been trying to get some articles read in the evenings, and have reduced my Facebook time considerably (YAY)…

In my paperless efforts I have downloaded quite a few articles to read around my topic and methodology. These are sitting as PDF files in a folder called ‘papers to read’ on my laptop desktop. In an effort to be organised, I have even named them with their correct titles when they were downloaded. Many I have skimmed but have made great efforts this week to focus closely (attend) to the articles and make notes and highlight for quotes etc. I have found all of this can be done on the PDF file itself, there is an annotate option. You can simply highlight, or select a comment box or even a text box. This will then save for future review. I have resisted printing them off 🙂

My next step in my master plan was foiled. Unfortunately Googledocs translates everything uploaded into it’s own ‘format’, and while the PDF itself is now on my googledocs page, my comments are not. It did transfer the highlighting so it will be a bit of a back up, but not quite as complete as I had hoped. I wonder if Evernote may be a better holding point for my read articles? I will have to play with Evernote one evening and see how it will ‘stack up’ with my increasing demands. I also want to look at some other blogs from PhD people, written as they completed their study and see what I can learn about the road ahead…forewarned is forearmed 🙂

Until next week, happy reading!

What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 2/3)

The ‘cloud’ is a fancy term that basically means your data, files etc are stored at a server remote to your computer. I realise that I have been using the ‘cloud’ for a few years for Facebook (I store recipes in the notes section).  I have recently been introduced to Google docs (that stores documents, pdfs, spread sheets etc), Acrobat.com (has the added ability of web conferencing) and Evernote. It seems the possibilities are ample for persuing a paperless research.

I have played with Acrobat.com, and it looks very professional and was promising until I tried to tag two different people to share a document with. It informed me I would have to upgrade my account…hmmm. I try to keep all my internet relations as ‘financially neutral’ as possible, and am not interested in a monthly fee for something offered for free at another site. This has lead me to look at Google Docs again. I have now uploaded and shared with four people, all of whom can read and comment on my writing. This bodes well, especially in an age where supervisors (and hopefully one day their students) travel around the country and overseas. I also like the fact that storing this work in progress in the cloud provides another back up of my work, aside from my computer, flash drive and email system.

One thing I lamented to my WH early on is that it was a pity I couldn’t write on PDF copies of articles, like I can on paper articles. Aside from converting them to word documents I couldn’t think of how to do this….My WH was a little startled that I wasn’t already aware of this, and said that yes, there was a way to do this! We pulled out the laptop and started to play. There are so many extra things you can so on a static PDF, I was amazed! I can highlight sections of relevant text, annotate them and even make links to other articles and documents stored on my computer or on the internet. Another light bulb moment: this paperless thing is not just me with my head in the clouds (excuse the pun), it could be an achievable reality.

Again, I feel compelled to mention that I do realise the end result of this journey will be a printed PhD on paper. I think it will be great if I have considerably reduced the amount of paper that could be used in my study be using these online, free tools. I am very excited to be embarking on this journey.

Here is a link to a YouTube about a paperless PhD, there are 3 parts and if you are interested in this online storage and PDF editing, this is quite good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6bPvtmio2Y

Next week, part three of this series:

What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 3/3) which will cover common things on the internet that can be used to enhance study and networking, from Skype to Ted Talks and a few stops in between.

What does it mean to be paperless? (Part 1/3)

The idea of the paperless office is not a new one. With the increased availability and simplicity of computers it is a term that is bandied about a lot. Today there are even more devices, software and networks that can make this ‘paperless’ idea more fact than fiction.

Late last century (1998) I began postgraduate study, and then continued my studies to complete my Masters by research. I completed these studies just under 10 years ago. Study during this period meant attending lectures in the evenings after full time work, completing readings, research and assignments on weekends. Research on weekends always meant going into the uni campus, finding a seat at a reference computer (yes, they had different computers for everything) and looking up various databases to find articles. Then you would write down the reference numbers of the articles and go to either a) find a book/journal on a shelf , to read and photocopy 0r; b) find the microfiche (tiny pieces of plastic that had the articles printed in teeny tiny writing, which could only be read using a microfiche reader and then photocopied from there).  This took ages and cost a lot of money in photocopying…oh and filled up folders etc with articles you may only read once then never use again. Sometimes what you needed was in a book or journal that was not at that particular library or even campus. So an inter-library loan would have to be organised, or if there was no time for that, an emergency road trip to a different University to read or photocopy it from there. Whole days were spent for each assignment doing all that “research” and then the articles read, critiqued and the assignment would still need to be written. EXHAUSTING!

Fast Forward…2011. The INTERNET is an amazing tool. Now we have online journal access, PDF downloads, Podcasts and YouTube. I can find not only appropriate articles and information, I can also find out immediately about the author and if they are truly an authority in the area. No paper wasted, and it all takes only minutes. Oh, and I don’t have to leave home to do it.

A vivid example of this is that just a few weeks ago I received a text from one of my wonderful sisters directing me to read an article in ‘The Age’ that she thought was relevant to my study area. I was on the computer doing my ‘paid job’ so I quickly looked up the article. It was relevant and quoted a professor from the US. I ‘google’ said professor and find a great body of work they had been involved in and a couple of books they had written and edited. Next step is Book Depository, looked up the three books I was interested in, read online reviews and narrowed my choice. Ordered the most relevant book, it was delivered to my door a week later. In under an hour I had sourced and (almost) acquired a book that would not even pop up in an ‘old school’ library search. This is amazing and too easy.

So the research bit is definitely more easily accessible and will mean I can get so much more done to a much better standard because the leg work that used to be mandatory for study is now eliminated. Brilliant 😀

Stay tuned for the next 2 blogs that will expand on this paperless idea. They will explore:

1) the potential of ‘the cloud’ for writing, editing and storage of drafts and papers, and

2) Skype, Ted Talks, academia.com and YouTube and how these tools can open doorways previously unconsidered.

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