Research and writing process #phdchat #dissertation

Posted: April 18, 2013 in dissertation, Research, Uncategorized

While I’m taking a little break from writing my dissertation I thought I would write a post on my workflow.

I am not an apple person, so I do not have an iPad, iPhone, or a Mac. I use windows 7 on my work computer and my laptop, I also have an android phone and a nexus 10 tablet. So this post will outline how I use windows and android programs in my workflow.

The programs that I use are: Dropbox, mendeley, chrome, acrobat pro (on PC) reader (on android), evernote, cutepdf, and word.

I have experimented with other such as qiqqa, and scriver, but they didn’t fit in my workflow like I wanted. Qiqqa took too long to update metatinfo for citations, and scriver didn’t work with word the way I wanted. Fresno State gave me a pretty good word template that I had already tweaked so that it had other styles for me to use, and the headings were set to the correct outline steps.

Collecting research
I started using mendely last year to organize articles that may be use full for my dissertation as well as for other papers that I wrote. I had folders created for each different topics, and as I brought articles in, or read them I would tag them with key concepts. I also set it up to auto save articles in a folder by author-title-year. I had experimented with using sub folders, but none of the options were better than in on folder. If it would save files into folders similar to the ones used in the program it would be helpful, but then you could end up with duplicates if you had a file in two folders. The folder that it saves it into is called research, and within that folder I have a folder called new that I have it watch.

I use a combination of databases through the school, and Google scholar to collect articles. Whenever I found an article that was close to what I wanted I saved it as a PDF. If I was somewhere that didn’t have a PDF option such as an article that was only available as HTML or a data view from BLS I used cutePDF to turn it into one. CutePDF sets up just like a printer, but instead of printing on paper it makes a PDF.  When using Google scholar I set it up to connect to the school library, so that if the PDF wasn’t free in the open web, I could search through the library to find it. I also used the ebsco android app to save files when searching the database from my phone, and would download them latter on the PC. When I’m on the tablet I just download them files and then upload them into the new folder in dropbox.

When I am reading a real book and come across something that I want to remember I take a picture of the passage with evernote and put it into a notebook called dissertation.

Organizing files
Once I had collected files I would start mendeley and make sure the info was correct and do my preliminary tags, and put them into folders. I try and keep my unfilled area empty. Once I started working on my dissertation I created a not dissertation folder, and moved all the folders that did not relate to my dissertation into it. That included folders for other papers I’m writing this semester.

The standard APA style for mendeley has a few issues so I have created a new version that fixes some things.

Reading articles
I read and markup articles in mendeley primilarily, that way I can make notes that show up without opening the file. Whenever I get a file that is just a scanned image I open it in acrobat pro and perform OCR, depending on the quality of the scan I get mixed results.

If I am reading on my tablet I primillary highlight, and make notes only when I really don’t want to forget something. That way when I go back to the PC I can see all my highlights and if I see a comment I open the PDF in acrobat and copy the comment into mendeley.

I do all of my writing in word, using the correct styles I am able to go the the outline view and move things around as needed. I also edited them web standard style to match what I wanted for the reference list so that I wouldn’t have to reformat it every time.


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