23 Research Things – 6: Managing Your Online Research Networks

Are you using any of the above profile platforms (Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Research Gate, Mendeley, Google Scholar Citations)? Why do you use it? Are there others that you would recommend?

I’ve set up a profile on LinkedIn but I don’t use it much. I think of it as an online CV – I only log in to update it if something happens like new job, new qualification, etc. I think it’s built more for finding job opportunities than for sharing academic research, but can be used for both -and I guess there’s a great deal of cross-over between those 2 things.

I have heard good things about Academia.edu and Research Gate. Mendeley looks appealing because it’s a reference manager and networking tool all in one (two birds with one app). Google Scholar is so ubiquitous it seems almost compulsory. It seems worthwhile to have a presence on all the biggest research network sites, or at least giving them a try.

I’ve noticed some ACU staff members use their staff directory profile to showcase their work. Probably good for when someone googles you, or a colleague looks you up. But as it’s a static webpage there’s not much interaction involved, and it doesn’t really enable anyone to “discover” your work unless they already know who you are. Still, it’s good to put up some information about yourself.

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23 Research Things – 5: Social Media for Researchers

This reading list – Using Social Media for Research Collaboration and Public Engagement from the London School of Economics contains many posts about social media and research. Read just one post and discuss/comment on it. You may need to briefly describe the post to give context etc. Reflect on the huge topic of social media and research.

I read the article Using Twitter for Curated Academic Content by Allan Johnson, who has designed a whole workflow around using Twitter. This is something I find appealing because it provides guidance for those daunted by the prospect of becoming active on twitter among all the demands of academic life.

The article highlights that one “role” you can play on twitter is that of a curator. You link to interesting content, probably make a brief comment about it. It seems like a fairly easy way to get involved in the Twitter conversation.

He also recommends an app which I had no idea about – “Buffer”. It lets you queue tweets, so if you come across a few things at once that you want to tweet, you can add them to your buffer instead and they will be saved or added to a queue to be tweeted at a rate you decide (e.g. 5 tweets a day).

My reflection on queuing your tweets is that it serves the dual purpose of not “flooding” people who follow you with 20 tweets in 5 minutes, and it also keeps your Twitter account active throughout the day/week, so you don’t need to be online “all the time” to have an active twitter presence. Buffer also recommends optimal times to tweet, which is a good strategy for getting your stuff noticed by other Tweeters. I had a play with it and if you set it up to tweet twice a day, it recommends 11am and 4pm.

23 Research Things – 4: File Sharing

Do you use any cloud- based storage? If so what?

I use Dropbox for personal cloud storage, since I am not always using the same computer, and also to share documents with family and friends.

As well as the storage, Dropbox also faciliates comments about documents. So it provides a space not just to store a work in progress, but also a discussion space. This can be good for collaboration, as an alternative to having a separate “discussion” document, or email thread etc.

CloudStor looks like a good choice for academic researchers as it gives you 100GB for free, which is more than the other providers offer without upgrading to a paid account. It’s also designed to be used for academic purposes, so it’s fit-for-task.

How concerned are you about the security and long-term storage of cloud-based data?

It’s prudent not to store things in the cloud for the long term. It’s also important not to store things in the cloud as the only place – always have a “hard copy” (!) on a physical drive that you own. I use it to save “work in progress” documents that I might want access away from home in the short term, not at the final destination for a file.

I regard most cloud-storage services to be secure and trustworthy. This article from LifeHacker lists some cloud services that offer data encryption for security. The ‘big’ providers like Dropbox, Google and Amazon don’t make the list as they don’t encrypt (though with a little know-how you can do it yourself) – but the article mentions that these 3 services will only investigate users’ data or turn it in to authorities if provided with a court order. Meanwhile, some other cloud storage services like Microsoft SkyDrive and Apple Drive reserve the right to scan user’s data for questionable or illegal material. So it’s good to know the policy before trusting a site with your data.

23 Research Things – 3: Collaboration Tools

When you are collaborating (whether on a work project or a personal task), what tools and technology do you turn to?

Set up a Facebook Group – this has worked well for me in group projects in the past. Lots of people use Facebook, so it’s not an extra thing to create an account for. You can communicate without needing to “friend” anyone in the group, so you can maintain privacy and personal/professional boundaries if that’s a concern. Posting onto a group page is preferable to sending a group email because it maintains one chain of comments without the back-and-forth of emails. You are also notified whenever someone made a new post or comments on a post of yours. It’s also great for sharing links. You can also upload files and take polls, which help with collaboration.

Google docs is a good way to have multiple people working on the same document. It’s saved to a central location, and if more than one person is working at once you can see what the other person is doing, so that avoids confusion.

I didn’t know you could have multiple users working on Prezi at the same time. That’s helpful. I have a lot of thoughts on Prezi, but I’ll save them for “thing 13”.

Google’s logo

I’m loving Google’s new logo.

By which I mean I barely noticed the change.

Usually when something familiar suddenly changes, particularly a design such as a layout or logo, I notice immediately, and usually not in a positive way. Some people have reacted this way to Google’s new logo. I get it. It’s a long-standing and familiar thing in our lives. Imagine if you woke up one day and your spouse’s face looked entirely different. It would be off-putting.

This time I felt the change was positive and mild. I think these are the reasons why:

It’s still got the same familiar colour scheme. The day they abandon those 4 friendly colours will be the day I riot. The colours are the most significant part of the logo for me.

I’m used to it changing. You know how the logo is always changing to commemorate special days? There’s even an official name for it – the Google Doodle. It has caused me to think of Google’s logo as a dynamic, not static, thing.

I don’t actually look at the logo that much. I never really fostered that much familiarity with Google’s logo in my daily web use. Like  Matthew Kassel said in The Observer, chrome users don’t actually go to Google’s home page, we use the browser bar to search, and only see the logo in its unimposing location of the top left corner on the search result page. For me, the main thing that takes getting used to is the new tab icon:

WHAAAT??

WHAAAT??

Because website tab icons are something I look at and interact with on a more constant level.

Meh. I didn’t even like the old one! Times New Roman (it’s probably not exactly Times New Roman, sorry typographers) is not a logo font. Don’t get me wrong – Google made it work for them – but it had a certain “old web” aesthetic to it. Opting for a friendly sans serif font is a welcome move in my opinion.