Virtuosity 11.11

Where words become worlds…

Archive for the month “January, 2017”

Revisit your lists

Each month, take the time to revisit your year goals.

It’s the end of January. Are you where you wanted to be? If not, what will you do now? Reassess and make your plans!

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Do things

464px-we_can_do_itYou must do the things you think you cannot do.

Face your fears, because usually, this is is the path to your destiny.

Be successful

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Craft  your goals so that they defeat the enemy, but make them in small steps so that you can celebrate the little victories.

A big goal, like, “I’m going to stop procrastinating,” is impossible to defeat.

You must be specific about what you will defeat, and make it manageable.
For example, “I keep procrastinating about going to the gym. Today’s goal is to go to the gym.” Small, manageable goals help you win. Each time you win, you get stronger.

Happy Lunar New Year!

 

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Credit to @natkacheva, http://www.freepik.com/natkacheva

 

Wishing you, your friends, and your family much happiness, good health, and fortune in the year to come. May you make the most of today, and all the days that follow.

Happy New Year!

Survey Design 101

Today, I will be talking at Non Profit Commons in Second Life about basic survey design, which is one of basic staples of a program evaluator. Please check this blog as I begin to offer tips on how to write your own surveys!

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Begin again

The morning brings a new day and a new promise. Even on crappy days, I know that they will end, and the morning means we can start over. Don’t let the weight from yesterday keep you from soaring into the skies, today. Begin again, and make this a day worth living!

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Converting from one reference management software to another

During my comprehensive exams, I was not entirely happy with using Sente to manage my documents. Although the software is powerful, it seemed for me to be overly complex, and changing minor things, such as a classification as a journal proceeding to that of a conference proceeding (and the fields that corresponded) involved flipping through pages of a not-so-friendly manual to understand and do. Second, I didn’t trust it enough to build a mostly flaw-free bibliography for me, considering that it would involve about a hundred citations!

The University of Rochester offers free Refworks for its students, but because I had already had three years worth of literature in my Sente database, I held back on converting over. In fact, it wasn’t until after I finished my exams that I had considered using a new reference manager. My decision to use Mendeley came from a fellow colleague who used the program and raved about how easy it was to use – plus, it was free. The problem with using free software offered by the university is that after you graduate, you end up paying for the subscription. So… I converted over. Needless to say, it hasn’t been quite easy, and there are pros and cons to moving from one reference manager to another.

Pros

  • Mendeley offers more technical support and has a more active community. That means you can get help quickly without being slowed down.
  • The reference manager interface is far more intuitive, and so far, more flexible in allowing me to make changes, annotate, and tag things the way they need to be tagged.
  • The Word plugin interface is much easier to use, and I can now build a bibliography from it. The advantage to having software build your bibliography is that you can change between different styles quickly (e.g., from APA to MLA) without getting all confused about what goes where.
  • Mendeley is free and I can access it on my phone, iPad and computers

 

Cons

  • I have four years of material stored on Sente, and although I can import the citations into Mendeley, it does not easily import the actual documents. So, I either have to re-import the documents, or, at times, run both Sente and Mendeley to make sure I have the things I need. This is a BIG con.
  • You lose stuff. It’s inevitable, but when converting from one software to another, it’s inevitable that stuff gets lost. Just make sure the most important stuff is filed where you can find it (that’s why I have scads of hard copy, alphabetized papers in file folders).
  • There’s always a slight learning curve when going from one software to another – however, I find that I pick up Mendeley a lot easier than when I learned Sente

Ultimately, you have to find a reference manager that works well with your own personal style. That may not be easy, and unfortunately, we may have to make quick decisions and stick with them. However, there ARE points where moving from one to another is ideal. For me, the flexibility and ability to trust that Mendeley will make a fairly accurate biblio was enough for me to switch over. I still waited until after I finished comps to do so.

For those who are thinking of moving from one management software to another, take your time and check out all your options. If you are unhappy with your current software, don’t wait too long, though, otherwise, it will be harder to switch. I’d also advise making the switch AFTER a major project, so that starting over isn’t such a big impact for you. For example, when I switched from comprehensives to thesis, my literature also took a switch from general online learning theories to virtual worlds-specific learning theories. That gap meant that now I knew where to go when I needed certain references. Albeit, sometimes, you still have to have two software programs running. It’s a small price to pay, however, for the amount of trust I have to have in my software program!

Happy Referencing!

 

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From XKCD

 

Why use reference management software

As I had mentioned in my last post, a good reference management software program is as important to a grad student as a computer. From the first day of class, you will be inundated with various articles, book excerpts, and links that are fundamental to your studies. During my comprehensive exams, I found myself going back to material from classes that I had taken in the first year of my program! However, if it were not for my reference manager, I would have (and still did, to some extent) had to search for those references again. Although my library is very good, some of those chapters may take a few days to obtain again, so it’s better to keep them on hand.

In hindsight, here’s my advice to those taking classes:

  1. From the first day of class, put your class syllabus into the reference manager program, and tag it with labels.
  2. Put all your electronic articles into your reference manager. Use tags so that you can find things again (they may be big tags, such as “theory building,” “qualitative methodology,” or “epistemology”).

Mendeley offers an annotation feature that I’ve found is more useful than Sente. Plus, you may use your Mendeley on moble devices – which I’ve found is useful.

However, I’ve also annotated using Evernote, because unlike Mendeley and Sente, Evernote’s OCR reader can search your own handwriting! Another useful annotation app for iPad is TopNotes, which allows you to make notebooks, doodle, and export to Evernote.

In any case, do not rely on paper copies alone! Unless you have an unusually keen photographic memory, sooner or later, you’re going to forget who said what, and a good reference manager is going to help you keep track and keep organized.

Happy Referencing!8186250124_3d35de02ed_b

 

 

Make no excuse

Be true to yourself!

  • List all your excuses for not doing things
    • Write down the cost that you pay when you give in to your excuse.
  • For each excuse, write down a plan or compromise
    • How do you eliminate, work with, or give into the excuse?
    • For every plan, write down your step-by-step things you will do.

There are no excuses. Setbacks and delays, yes. However, for everything you truly wish to do, you will find a way to do them.

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Mendeley Reference Software

7923439940_a4157d3a18_bAll grad students begin to amass a large collection of literature from the day they start their first classes. An older grad student advised that I should start sticking all this literature into a reference manager (i.e., bibliographic database) so that I can find stuff later. It was one of the best pieces of advice I had ever been given.

Originally, I began putting things into Sente, but never actually used it to generate bibliographies in my actual documents. However, it was very helpful for keeping things together, and for tagging and finding stuff. The problem with Sente, I found, and with a lot of other reference management software, is that powerful programs can get way too complicated. I found it difficult to change the way things were cited in Sente, and I just couldn’t trust the program to build a bibliography correctly for me.

After my comprehensive exams, it was a great time to switch to another program, and a friend advised that I try Mendeley. The biggest push for Mendeley is that it’s free! Second, Mendeley is made with far more accessibility and flexibility – something that I found lacking when comparing Sente to Mendeley. Last, the Word plugin  for Mendeley seems easy to use. At least, so far. I will know more when I finish this paper and use Mendeley for building the bibliography.

In the meantime, here’s some links to help you get started in Mendeley:

Get Started With Mendeley – PDF tutorial

Videos and Tutorials page on Mendeley

Happy writing and referencing!!!

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