23 Research Things – 11: Web-conferencing and communication tools

We all use Lync, but explore another one of the other options and comment/blog your findings.

AdobeConnect seems like a popular options for hosting online video conferences. I’ve never hosted anything on it, but from a participant point of view, I like that you don’t need to sign up or download any software, you just use the link to open in your web browser. I once got caught out trying to connect to a session hosted on BlackBoard, thinking it would be just like Adobe Connect, not knowing I had to download and install the software first, which on my computer was going to take over 20 minutes and I only gave myself 5 minutes to get set up! But I blame that entirely on my own disorganisation.

I haven’t used Skype in a long time but it’s functional too (according to the Wikipedia article, Lync is now called Skype for Business! Hmm.)


I love working in a library because my job often involves finding interesting things, like medical images to display as part of an upcoming Medieval Fair.

I just love the illustrations.

Caesarian baby is totally chill. Also looks just like a very tiny man.

Caesarian baby is totally chill. Also looks just like a very tiny man.

I seem to have been deeply stabbed with spears. What should I do?

“Oh dear, I seem to have been deeply stabbed with spears. What should I do?”

Sorry to bother you, but there's a huge %*$!ing worm coming out of my chest.

“Sorry to bother you, but there’s a huge %*$!ing worm coming out of my chest.”

Dont touch me

“Dont touch me”

Source: Bartlett, R. (Ed.). (2001). Medieval Panorama. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum.

  1. birth by Caesarean section. French, 15th century (p. 162).
  2. the treatment of various wounds, from a treatise on surgery by Roger of Salerno, Italian, c. 1300 (p. 207)

23 Research Things – 10: Using Images

Take a look at Instagram or Flickr and search and explore for some instances where researchers are using Instagram or Flickr. Add some links to pages you discover.

Megan McPherson – PhD and artist – good mix for instragram

Just some thoughts on using Instagram for social networking and profile building- the principles are pretty similar to Twitter only there’s always a pic involved. Sometimes the picture isn’t the important part – e.g. thesis whisperer’s picture of an empty plate, the plate isn’t really the point- it’s in the caption, “Dinner with international university marketing people”. It makes it informal and fun. The other use for Instagram is if the images ARE the point, like if you’re in a science field that creates interesting visuals. NASA’s Instagram is so cool (I love space pics!).

Flickr is a great source of different kinds of images – e.g. search for cell biology.
Researchers can also use flickr to find photos that are not academic per se, but have an academic use, e.g. a photograph of a building can have an academic purpose to a historian.

23 Research Things – 9: Survey Tools

Have you used any of the above tools (Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, Google Forms) and, if so, what were their pros and cons? Are there any other tools that you have found useful?

I have used each of these tools and find them totally easy to use and fit for purpose. Qualtrics is great, I’ve used it to make staff surveys and it was very easy to design the survey and collect responses. If someone is an ACU researcher member there’s probably no need to use any other tool. It compares fairly closely with the paid version of Survey Monkey.

In terms of deciding the pros and cons, it just depends on your needs. I’d recommend writing the survey questions first and then checking that the tool has the functionality to support what you want to do. I had to design a survey for uni and I wanted a question where the user would rank a list of items from most important to least important. I wanted a drag-and-drop type list where they could arrange the items in order. I was using Google forms, which didn’t have this feature, and it was only on the paid version of Survey Monkey. I had to remake the question so that the user rates each item individually on a scale, which worked OK but wasn’t what I wanted. So I’d say Google Forms, Survey Monkey or any free tools seem fine for simple questions based on multiple choice, free text responses, individual ranking on a scale, etc. but for anything fancier, check first.

23 Research Things – 8: Brainstorming and Mind Mapping

I think brainstorming and mind maps are a great way of organising your thoughts and exploring new ideas.

I did a graphic design course last year and I needed to produce a lot of mind maps to show my creative process for the assignment tasks. I had a go at using some mind-mapping software, and can I say I’m not usually a pen-and-paper advocate (I prefer typing to hand writing most of the time), but for mind mapping I really prefer the good old pen (and coloured pencils!) and paper method. Software-based mind maps get too fiddly and make me feel disconnected from the mental process of brainstorming. I get bogged down needing to use controls to create new branches, and manually change the shape, font size, colour, position. etc. and it takes me right out of the zone. I like the physical act of drawing out the connections – I find it makes the mind mapping process a lot more fruitful. Maybe I’m a kinetic learner. To each their own!

I guess the benefits of the online version is you can share them with others and you can also add to them as much as you want and you won’t run out of paper. (Still, that’s not enough to make me put down the coloured pencils!)

I had a go at making a mind map with Coggle, but it’s definitely not for me. One feature I do like is inserting links into the mind map, which can be useful, especially for collaboration. I tried to make links between different branches, but apparently it’s a paid feature so I came up with a kinda ugly work-around, creating off-shoot branches and trying to make them meet in the middle.