There aren’t many people at Panera at 6:15 am, and the choices for hot egg souffles are outstanding. I am back to dissertation research this morning, locating and reviewing sources for my literature review. Here are a few web-based tools and digital technologies I’m using and learned about today.

EndNote Software is the client-side bibliographic management software program I used to write several of my latter research papers for my doctoral classes, and is THE best digital friend I’ve found yet for making the research process easier. It keeps a database of all bibliographic references and integrates directly with MS Word to create properly formatted citations. I wish I had been able to take an entire course on the use of EndNote. I am probably using 0.05% of the capability of the program currently, but I am confident it is an excellent program to “invest in” (time and effort wise) and utilize for my dissertation. I am still using version 9 for Mac OS X, I probably should upgrade to the latest version, but the one I have is working fine now. (I haven’t upgraded to Panther yet, but plan to soon.)

I learned about some cool features of Google Scholar this morning that I’m using to facilitate my research. I made two changes in Google Scholar’s preferences, so it would provide a direct link to import research references into EndNote, and also permit direct linking to full-text versions of articles on my university library’s network:

Google Scholar Preferences

Both of these preference changes are quite handy.

Handy options in Google Scholar for EndNote and Full Text location

I’m using the Firefox browser for research because it has better Java support for some advanced webpage functionalities. I had to define the EndNote application as the program which should handle EndNote citation files, so it would open the program each time:

Opening Google Scholar citations in EndNote

I have had to re-locate my EndNote library each time I’ve added an entry, however, so I’m thinking I should point FireFox directly to my EndNote library file rather than the application itself to avoid this.

This Google Scholar – EndNote functionality worked GREAT in most cases, but sometimes EndNote prompted me to select a “filter:”

Choose A Filter in EndNote

I’m not sure if that is because it needed more information from an online library with database hooks for EndNote to complete the reference, or what… In the cases where I was presented with this dialog, I couldn’t find a “filter” that worked and had to manually add EndNote entries. A small hassle, but certainly not as bad as having to manually enter all these citations.

I discovered a couple other things not directly related to EndNote but helpful for research this morning as well. ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) permits you to register for a free account and save references you find there in 10 different folders which you can customize:

ERIC - Education Resources Information Center

It looks like I may still have to search in microfiche for some of the articles I’m wanting to read and use. Yikes. I was hoping I might be able to avoid that. The ERIC MicroFische Digitization Project is moving forward but is FAR from complete, apparently.

When looking for options for annotating electronic documents, I discovered the free Scrapbook extension for Firefox. It saves info on captured webpages to your local hard drive, and looks similar to Zotero. I also stumbled across Jump Knowledge and it’s free webpage annotation service, thanks to this post from LifeHacker. It looks useful but more for blogging, rather than dissertation research.

If you know of other helpful research tools (software or web-based) that you’ve actually used and think are great, I’d love to hear about them.

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5 Responses to Educational research discoveries

  1. Eric Hoefler says:

    Do you know about Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/)? It’s a Firefox plugin that works a lot like EndNote but is more web-oriented. George Mason University is developing it, and they’re planning to set up an exchange server to allow genuine collaboration.

    If you have used it, do you have any thoughts about the comparisons between the two? I used an older version of EndNote and found it helpful, but am liking the more web-based approach of Zotero. (Zotero also allows for Word integration, but I’m not sure about Google Scholar integration.)

    Thanks!

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Yes Eric, I’ve tried Zotero briefly but not at length. I linked it in my main post after mentioning Scrapbook, because it looks similar. I need to use Zotero more to form an opinion about it. I am considering using a separate blog to post and organize research notes…. I like Google Notebook but I want something that has more integration with EndNote. I want something which:

    1- Lets me highlight, right click and then save as a blockquote different things I find in HTML and pdf documents
    2- Tracks the source of the saved text
    3- Lets me add my own annotations
    4- Lets me add tags
    5- Is fully searchable
    6- Ideally lets me reorganize elements into different categories as I process and work with the information

    I’m not sure what the best solution for this is. I’m glad to hear you like Zotero, and also am interested to learn it’s being developed by George Mason University. It’s good they are further developing it as an even more collaborative tool. I think I want something that is as web-based as possible, but of course EndNote isn’t, so that isn’t a firm requirement for me.

  3. Jacqui Cyrus says:

    Hi Wes: I have used EndNote for my DISS and it did everything that I needed it to do (except actually defend). I cannot live without it. My only qualm (an Oklahoma word, I do believe) is that the CiteWhileYouWrite function ONLY works with MS Word. But, since I am coaching 4 Masters’ degree students, I decided to offer them choices: Here’s my pick:
    – CiteULike
    – Zotero
    – BibMe (some big limitations)
    – OttoBib
    Let me know what you think.
    -j-

  4. Jason says:

    Re: “I think I want something that is as web-based as possible, but of course EndNote isn’t…”

    You may be interested to know that there is a web-based version of EndNote called “EndNote Web”. Check it out at http://www.endnoteweb.com

    Cheers,
    J

  5. Earl Beutler says:

    If you want a fully-functional web based solution, check out RefWorks which is available
    free at over 1,000 academic institutions throughout the world (it can also be purchased
    individually).

    (Full disclosure – I am with RefWorks).

    Regards,
    Earl

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