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GradHacker began as a bootcamp to introduce grad students to social media that would improve their lives. Most of our authors use a myriad of tech on a daily basis. All of us have Twitter, many are also on Google +, we own a diversity of smart phones, and our laptops are more an extension of our person than a tool. Technology is increasing important to academia, with online discussion and electronic publication becoming a frequent practice. Personally, I wouldn’t be where I am without Twitter and Wordpress opening a number of important windows of opportunity to me.
With new software and hardware being developed daily, sifting through the good and bad can be a taxing enterprise. Often with one good idea comes a number of incarnations and variations. There are dozens of annotation, bibliographic, data management and social media programs out there to pick from. One of our favorite categories to post on at GradHacker are reviews and introductions to our favorite tools in academia. Here is a selection of some of the top technology posts from GradHacker.
Zotero in the Archives: In this post, Alex Galarza discusses the program Zotero, “a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources”. In a screencast, Alex discusses his own Zotero library and how it has benefited him. Then he gives some handy tips on creating your own: develop a system for collecting sources efficiently, use tags to connect your research ideas, and be diligent about annotating your sources to make them helpful to your research.
Distraction Free Writing Tools: Trent Kays begins this post with the ironic statement that “even writing teachers can’t write sometimes”. Getting distracted from doing your work is a fairly common problem in grad school. However, using tools like Pen.io, Focus Writer, or Microsoft Word in full screen mode all allow for focusing ones attention solely on the writing task at hand rather than being distracted by updating twitter pages or chat boxes on Facebook.
Scholastica: In this review of a new publication system, Cory Owen argues that Scholastica “demystifies the publication process”. The system lets grad students interact with publication as an author, reviewer or editor. The goal is to create a system where authors, reviewers and editors can know exactly where a publication stands in the peer-review process instead of being a black box. Although the system is still in beta, is appears to have great potential.
Going Paperless From Day One: This is a debate in academia, whether to print PDFs or read online, whether to type notes or write them, whether to publish in traditional or electronic journals. Jason Shafer reviews a number of programs for creating a completely paperless workflow. Collecting data and information can be done by scanning and creating PDFs. Annotating can be done through programs like Zotero. Organizing sources and annotations is made easier with DEVONThink Pro. By creating a work flow before even starting research, you are more likely to be successful in being completely paperless.