iPhone Apps for Research and Collaboration

If you’re like me, much of the time spent away from your laptop is spent checking your phone for news, email and new xkcd comics.  If you’re spending that much time on your phone, you might as well do something useful.

Check out the following free apps to help you search the literature, cite your sources, and organize your work.

iPhone Apps

iPhone apps for research and collaboration

Ebsco Databases – Ebsco provides access to a large number of databases via one app (ERIC, Georef, American History and Life, MLA International Bibliography, Business Source Complete, Academic Search Complete and lots of others).  Because access to these databases is paid for by the library (with your tuition dollars), you need to log in to Academic Search Complete via the library website first.  At the bottom of the screen you’ll click on a link that will send an email with an activation code.  After downloading the app, open your email on your phone and click on the link.  You will then have 9 months of access.  I’ve found this process to be pretty simple and easy – no need to log in every time.  The app will connect you to full text articles within the Ebsco databases, and even Geneseo’s “Get it” service for articles found elsewhere.

SciVerse Scopus Alerts – A search app for the interdisciplinary database Scopus.  This app can do keyword searching, citation tracking, and alerts for the science and social science literature.  Scopus is an outstanding database, but the app has some issues.  The biggest problem is getting it to work.  You need to remember your Scopus username and password (not your Geneseo username), and even then there can be trouble.  While the tech support is responsive, it just isn’t as easy to get started as the Ebsco app above.

Evernote – I recently started using this piece of software on my computer for note taking during meetings and lectures.  I am in love with its simplicity and universal usefulness.  Take class notes on your computer, then download the iPhone app to access them anywhere.  Record voice notes on your phone and automatically sync them to your laptop.  Take pictures with your phone and insert them into the notes you’ve already started, or start a new note.  The iPhone app syncs with the desktop application so that you never have to guess where a certain piece of information is.  Share notes with others via shared notebooks or simple weblinks.  I love this app.

Dropbox – Along with the Dropbox website, this tool allows you to easily share files among friends (with shared folders), or between your computer and phone.

EasyBib – An app from the popular website.  This app allows you to scan the barcode of a book and create a formatted citation (which you will, of course, check against the style manuals for accuracy).

Merriam Webster Dictionary – There are lots of dictionary apps out there.  This one is free, and has a nifty voice search function.

Mendeley – This app works with Mendeley Desktop and the Mendeley website.  It allows you to store and organize your PDF journal articles and book chapters.  It’s like iTunes for journal articles: Mendeley will organize your folders for you and you can create folders (playlists) of articles.  You can share those folders with others to help you collaborate on group projects.  The desktop version integrates with Microsoft word to help you cite your sources.  This mobile app allows you to access the journal PDFs you have synced to the web, as well as the ability to search your personal library.

Since I don’t have an Android phone, I can’t comment on the availability or usability of these apps on that platform.  Perhaps in another post.

What apps do you use to get your work done?

It’s not ALL about the Citations…

Writing and Style guides and manuals

Writing and Style guides and manuals

You may think that APA and MLA and all those other acronym-laden guides are tedious and exhausting. I mean, c’mon! Who cares that much about spaces and commas and italicization, right?

Your professors, for one. Other scholars in your discipline, for another. Oh, and if you ever decide to publish in a scholarly publication? The editors who will evaluate your manuscript, that’s who! Scholars are required to follow the style guides of organizations in their disciplines when they submit articles and books to academic journals and academic book publishers in those disciplines for consideration of publication.  Are you a college student? Then you’re a scholar and you need to learn – and use – the rules.

There are an endless amount of websites maintained by librarians to assist in the confusing maze of citations (including our own Guide to Citing Sources) and they’re great for checking the fine details of your works cited page at the end of your writing project. Milne’s librarians are always willing and happy to assist you in this portion of your project.

Unfortunately, students often tend to think of the guides solely as a quick place to check on whether a citation is correct or perhaps to determine if the bibliography is formatted properly, and while they serve that purpose, I promise you, they’re so much more than that!

Outline Draft

Outline Draft, used courtesy of Flickr User CanadianAEh

Try picking up the guide or style manual – especially if it’s one you’re not accustomed to using – before you begin to write your research paper.  There are often suggestions for ways to organize and make transitions between your ideas. Peruse it again once you’ve written your first draft. Are you using the passive voice? That’s not a good idea and there are examples for using active verbs. And take a look again when you’ve finished your paper. You’ll find advice for how to write in a scholarly manner with suggestions for dealing with bias, and striking the proper tone. You might be surprised with all the things you’ve ignored or forgotten.

Perhaps you’ve always written well, but aren’t you always looking improve and be a stronger writer? People like to cherry-pick the bits of information that we need in order to save time, but when we do this, it is at the expense of the larger context. Do yourself a favor and spend some quality time getting to know the writing guide most often used for your discipline while you’re here at Geneseo.

There are copies of several manuals at Milne. The latest editions of the most heavily used guides are on 4 hour loan at the Service Desk so that students always have access to the information and there are additional copies that may be checked out, too.

Here’s a list of the most common styles:

Citation Manuals

Tools for organizing your research projects

Courtesy of JellalunaFlickrphotostream

If you’re like most students at this point in the semester, you are probably juggling multiple research papers or projects.   Keeping track of your research from all those various places you have to look (book catalogs, journal databases, and websites) can sometimes be challenging.

There are a number of free citation management tools on the market that can help you get organized. These tools will help you save and organize all of your research in one place, much like iTunes does for your music files.  Some of them will even insert citations and bibliographies into your paper for you.  Check out this library guide to explore some of the more popular tools available.

GOLD (Ruby Certificate) Workshops in Milne — Week of 4/5

Join Milne Librarians this week as they offer two more GOLD workshops as part of the Ruby Leadership for the Information Age Certificate series.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2-3 p.m. in Milne 208, Tracy Paradis will present Using Diigo Bookmarking Tool, a powerful research tool that combines enhanced online browsing and interactions with annotation, social bookmarking and information sharing capabilities. No longer do students need to print web pages to highlight and take personalized notes! Workshop participants will learn how to save, annotate, tag and share their favorite sites while creating their own personal archive.

Students feeling unsure or anxious about citing the sources used in their research papers may want to attend Citing Sources in English and History, offered by Sue Ann Brainard on Wednesday, April 7, 2-3 p.m. in Milne 109. Participants will practice writing bibliography entries and footnotes in both MLA and Turabian/Chicago styles. The workshop will cover tricky entries for reprinted articles, essays in collections, and primary sources like oral histories and interviews.

See the GOLD registration page to register for these workshops and others.

Browser Add-ons to Make Your Research Easier

We can all use a bit of help finding and managing the heaps of information that we need for a project.

The Firefox extension Zotero.

Zotero LogoOne of the most time consuming tasks that needs to be completed after writing and before turning in a paper is the formatting of the Works Cited section. Zotero is here to help. Using this add-on, you can save and sort the references for your paper, insert an appropriate citation, and format your bibliography in any of thousands of bibliographic styles (everything from the typical APA and MLA styles to styles from specific journals).

Students can appreciate the amount of time this will save while their professors will like seeing a correctly formatted bibliography.

The LibX toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

This extension can help you find resources more quickly.

First, it allows you to search the Milne Library catalog, GLOCAT, right from the toolbar.

Second, no matter what webpage you are looking at, the tool bar will insert a link for any resources it finds, connecting you to the materials available through Milne Library. For example, when searching Amazon.com, the LibX toolbar will allow you to easily check to see if Milne Library owns a copy of the book you want. Or if you find a journal article cited on a webpage, you can easily get access to the full-text article.

Additional information about these add-ons