Things to do in week 7

The two sub themes for the week are thinking about your research and reviewing, assessing your digital habits. The latter is something of a check point for your second task. There has been some interest in non-representational theory. It will pop up in week 9 or so but if you were curious you could read ahead.

The important point to note is that there is no one ideal, standard way to do any of the practices we have been focussing on. We search, write, think, read and use various apps differently. Having said that, there are often small, simple tips and tricks that can improve the way you support your academic practices.

Make a list of the routine digital habits you have, i.e. using Google scholar, EndNote, blog searching/mapping, whatever, and give some thought to how well you or comfortable you are with each. It need not be a list of everything but perhaps include the main, often use apps.

For example, in a paper1 I wrote in 2014, I acknowledged the help of: Scrivener, EndNote, Skim, various Google search and mapping utilities, Google Chrome, Notebook, DevonThink, Calibre and Apprentice Alf’s deDRM plugin, Kindle, an iPad, Notability, VLC media player, OSX 10.9.5, and a MacBook Pro. The paper was concerned with the way we think about the role of machines/apps in our practices.

It's hard to know what you don't know about a particular app but a simple indication that there might be a simpler way to do something is if you are doing a set of steps over and over again to achieve a particular outcome. A very simple illustration: If you wanted to delete some text as you were writing with a text processor you could put the cursor at the end of the text you wanted to delete and hit the delete key till all the text was gone. Or, as you all well know, you can select the text and hit the delete key once or cut the selected text with a keystroke.

Interrogating your use of software can be hard but it can pay off handsomely in terms of time and effort.

Alternatively, it may also be that you know of an app that you think might be useful to support your work but have yet to try it out. Make notes not just on how to use it as you go but about your reading of the interface, the mistakes, missteps etc.

And in any of this you can always ask questions on Slack or do what a lot of folk do, find a YouTube video that steps you through the process that might be causing you some problems.

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