May 21, 2013, 11:00 am
[This is a guest post by Austin Kocher, a Ph.D. student in geography at the Ohio State University. You can find his minimalist blog at austinkocher.com or see some of his work online here.--@JBJ]
Qualitative data. The phrase conjures up stacks of spiral-bound field notebooks, a dented-and-scratched voice recorder, and most of all, perpetual disorganization. While chemists have lab notebooks and accountants have spreadsheets, qualitative researchers are often left to invent a data management system entirely from scratch. Not one to turn down a challenge, in the summer of 2011 I tried find a workable and productive solution to managing a busy year of interview-driven research. Here’s what I did.
Interview data – like any James Cameron movie –is 90% pre- and post-production and only 10% on-site action. I needed a centralized and secure system for managing contact …
May 21, 2013, 8:00 am
It seems like new online services for collaborative writing are emerging all the time. After a series of postings about the powerful collaborative capabilities of the GitHub platform, used for writing code by programmers around the world, I suggested that this opens up the possibility for radical new ways to engage in academic scholarship and explore ways of forking the academy. For this to even stand a chance though, we need writing platforms that work better for our needs than the steep learning curve and some of the other limitations of Github. I offered my own list of suggestions about what that kind of platform might look like and in the next few weeks I’ll take a closer look at some of new options out there to consider. I begin with Draft, a new writing platform created by the extremely talented Nathan Kontny.
Draft is designed for drafting and collaborative writing of text. It is…
May 20, 2013, 11:00 am
Now that I do all my conference travel with only an iPad, I’ve been looking for better solutions to creating presentations and content while on the road. One of the most interesting of these is the recently released free app Flowboard. The free storage includes 250 MB, which seems like enough for most projects, but there is a premium for more storage. Unfortunately Flowboard requires iOS 6 and an iPad, but it creates presentations that are published through its platform and easily viewed on the web, rather like Prezi.
Essentially, Flowboard is a streamlined tool for creating linear presentations, galleries, or magazine-like content with internal and external links, text, images and video. It’s similar to PowerPoint but with fewer options, and it eliminates some of my least favorite things that show up in PowerPoints: bullet points, tables, and random flashy animation. The Flowboard…
May 17, 2013, 3:00 pm
The semester is over! Grades have been turned in, the weather is beautiful, possibilities are endless. It’s the perfect time to think about beginning summer projects, and to read up on the digital humanities, one of our favorite fields at ProfHacker. My links in this week’s Weekend Reading focus on some interesting developments in race, ethnicity and literary studies within the digital humanities, social media, and some literary inspiration for beginning your new summer project.
May 16, 2013, 8:00 am
Last year, I reported on the website Quartzy, which can be used for inventory management. The site is nominally marketed towards use in the life sciences, but we have found it to be very useful in our physics department. Since last September, there have been a number of updates to the website, which might be useful to ProfHacker readers.
First, a major wish-list item of mine has been added to the site: you can now directly link protocols to inventory items. The key here is to think of protocols more broadly than just experiment protocols. In our department, we are using protocols to post introductory lab directions, and now we can associate a given protocol with the inventory records of the equipment used in the lab. This is a key functionality as we have students assist us with set up of labs; the students will be able to easily access information on types and quantities of equipment…
May 15, 2013, 8:00 am
Recently, I witnessed a Twitter conversation that pretty clearly demonstrated that the participants weren’t understanding one another very well on a key point. They worked things out, and the discussion ended with no hard feelings, but for a while the atmosphere seemed pretty tense, at least to those of us watching the conversation unfold.
Who the participants were in this particular instance really doesn’t matter, but the incident got me thinking about both the importance of effective communication and some of the difficulties involved in achieving it. Both the attitude we bring to a conversation and the means by which it takes place are vitally important.
In the Twitter conversation mentioned above, the two principal participants were able to work things out in part because there’s already a relationship—one involving mutual liking and respect—between them. They were…
May 14, 2013, 8:00 am
I’ve just wrapped up my first year as a junior faculty member at a new institution. Overall it’s been a wonderful transition, but I have run up against that familiar problem for academics: the encroachment of other duties into research time. Teaching well is essential, of course—as indicated by the many posts here at ProfHacker about the classroom—and every faculty post requires significant service. The time demands of both can creep into any crevice in a faculty member’s schedule, however, pushing research further and further into the ever-receding future. For me, at least, a haphazard approach to research time just didn’t cut it.
A mentor of mine suggested a simple hack to prevent such creep: add dedicated blocks of “research time” on your calendar and treat that time as you would any other appointment or class. If treated seriously, this method preserves valuable blocks of time…
May 10, 2013, 3:00 pm
As people on the semester schedule wrap up their year, I wanted to point to Jack Dougherty, Dina Anselmi, and Christopher Hager’s new project Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning. As it says on the tin, the born-digital book aims to explain not only why faculty and students might want to develop this skill, but also how they might get started doing so. In addition to the general call for papers, there are also some small subventions available. Jack has previously co-edited a similarly-structured project, Writing History in the Digital Age. Why not submit a proposal?*
On to this week’s links!