Links Roundup #21

A PhotographerBlog of Interest

Teaching in Higher Ed is a blog on PKM, educational technology, and curation as applied to higher education.  The author is Bonni Stachowiak, who teaches courses in business, marketing, leadership, and human resources at Vanguard University.  Check out, for example, her post Personal Knowledge Management Online Modules and Articles – she teaches PKM as part of classes for doctoral students.


Citation/Reference Management

Catherine Pope, in her Digital Researcher blog, has some clear and concise posts on using various tools for academic research.  She has started a series on using Zotero, and one of the posts is How to Insert Citations Using Zotero, on how to insert citations into Word.  Finding articles on how to use particular reference managers is easier than finding articles on adding to your word processor, and I expect the directions are similar for Libre Office and for other reference managers.  I am not fond of Zotero myself, as I and others in my library have found the plug in slows down our computers by a major factor.  Have installed and uninstalled it twice for this reason; however, I know that it is popular with many users.

Decision Matrix

Thorin Klosowski of LifeHacker explains the Important/Urgent decision matrix more clearly than I have seen it explained before.  The difference is that urgent tasks require immediate action, while important tasks are ones that serve long term goals.

Ebooks for Free on Apps and Tools

MakeUseOf, a site I’d like to explore more in my copious spare time, offers free ebooks on computer-related topics, mostly of the how-to-use variety.  It includes guides to most computer operating systems, tablets and smartphones, but also tools we’ve mentioned such as Scrivener, Evernote, IFTTT, Markdown, PHP, tumblr, Feedly, and many more.  I don’t know their quality or currency, but it was recommended on the Scout Report’s best of the year list.  They also have a Top List section, which has the best software for various platforms.  Included is a section for the best Android productivity apps,  and the best iPhone productivity apps.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Apps

Whiteboards, Webmeetings, Evernote, and Skitch is one of Jamie Todd Rubin‘s Going Paperless columns.  It shows how he captures screens and whiteboards in meetings and marks them up with Evernote’s Skitch to keep them and be able to search them.

Springpad is a notebook software that is shutting down at the end of June.  Springpad users have created a Google Drive spreadsheet with alternatives, including descriptions and features.

Jamie Todd Rubin‘s post 10 Ways I Used Evernote to Plan and Track Our Kitchen Remodel (part of his Going Paperless series), has, on the surface, nothing to do with academic work.  However, it is an excellent example of the power of notebook software to organize projects, making it well worth a quick perusal .

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog has a brief but useful post Voice Recognition with Evernote.


IFTTT has introduced an email digest channel.  “The Email Digest Channel is a native IFTTT Channel that collects content and sends you an email digest on a daily or weekly schedule.”  There are plenty of example recipes to get you started.

Microsoft Office

AskBobRankin pointed to two useful sites:  WordTips (Ribbon Interface) and Excel Tips (Ribbon Interface).  Both offer loads of tips for using those programs, are searchable, have tips by category, and offer a weekly newsletter to which one can subscribe.  There is also a similar site for Microsoft Windows tips.


Lifehacker‘s post Set a Procrastination Free Block to Get Important Tasks Done discusses the concept of adding a time to your calendar that is procrastination free.  Start off small and build up to create a habit.


Chris Bailey took a year after graduating college to intensively study productivity, and his article discusses 10 Lessons I Learned from A Year of Productivity Experiments.  I like particularly his discussion that productivity results from how well you manage your time, attention, and energy.

A Chrome extension called Dayboard takes an interesting approach to keeping you focused on tasks:  every day you choose five or so goals that are most important to accomplish that day, and in every new tab you open those items are at the top.  Should cut down on distractions!

A blog called Barking up the Wrong Tree, by Eric Barker, lists 6 Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day, taken from an interview with Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour Workweek.  While I don’t find much new in the list of 6, it is a nice summary of some very useful productivity tips.  In looking at Barker’s blog, I found another useful post – How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed by Science.  He’s right – the hardest part of a task is getting started!

Research Management Tools

Readcube has always been an interesting product, as it adds value to reading a research paper.  For instance, it makes references live links when it can.  Also offers annotation and other features for scholars.  Now they are adding more functionality, according to Readcube Adds More Features to Its Popular Research Management Platform.  It includes SmartCite, for easy citation of papers in a Readcube library, integration with institutional proxies, searching literature within the program, and more.


Waqas Ahmad on Addictive Tips has an article Blogtrottr Turns RSS Feeds into Email News Letters & Lets You Filter Stories – the title pretty much says it all.  Blogtrottr lets you get email digests of your RSS feeds.

Statistical/Data Analysis

Data is increasingly being used and produced in all academic disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences, AND humanities.  So many academics are learning to use R, an open source and powerful statistical analysis software.  Andrea Zellner in a recent Gradhacker post Learning R has useful tips and tools for getting started.

Team Communication

An announcement by IFTTT that they now have a channel for Slack introduced me to that product which looks like it could serve as an intranet.  It has a freemium model, and looks like the free version could be very useful for educators.  “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.”  It is organized around a good search engine, so you can find any communication, document, etc.  It also integrates with a lot of external services, though the free version limits you to five external integrations.  Among the services are Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive, Google+ Hangouts, IFTTT, MailChimp, RSS feeds, Trello, Twitter, and Zapier.  The big one I see missing is Evernote.  Please add a comment if you have used it.

Time Management

Francis Wade of 2Time Labs has a library of academic papers relating to time management. The library is arranged with images of the first pages in the format of a slide show.  He and his group do a good job of providing information on time management.  I read his book Bill’s Im-perfect Tiime Management Adventure (and wish that all organizations were run by the principles it discusses) and am looking forward to his next book.

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Voting is now open for the 2014 list, which will be announced September 29th.  This will be the 8th annual survey.  While you are votiing, check out the 2013 list.


Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on academic workflow.  Her article Using Twitter for Research has some wonderful tips for finding Twitter streams for specific academic disciplines as well as other useful tips.

Writing Productively

Kelly Hanson‘s GradHacker post Scheduling Summer Writing integrates a number of academic productivity techniques and tools including setting realistic goals, using calendars and to-do lists for writing goals, and using techniques such as Pomodoro to get writing done.


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  • Many thanks indeed for mentioning my Digital Researcher blog. Have you tried the standalone version of Zotero? I think it’s more stable than the Firefox plugin, and shouldn’t slow down your computer.

    • I was curious about the slowness issue, too. Mary, is there another tool you recommend? I’ve been using Zotero for a few years now and really like it. However, I always like to know if there’s something better out there. I’m on a Mac and am using the stand-alone app and the MS Word plug in. If anyone is interested, I have a few tutorials on

      • Mary A. Axford

        My problem is that I don’t do the kind of intensive research for publication, as a rule, that grad students and faculty do. So it is hard for me to use any one citation manager well enough to know what’s best. I have a page of tools here – Qiqqa and Colwiz sound interesting, they both have a lot of features. Another problem is that each one of them has good features that are unique, while falling short on others. Mendeley has some of the best collaboration options, though I think others are catching up, plus its recommending service. Zotero handles web pages and so forth well, and Catherine Pope on The Digital Researcher has had a number of great posts on using Zotero, and integrating it with writing software, I think both Scrivener and Open Office? I’m forgetting. So I would absolutely ADORE to get comments from researchers on what they have tried and what works best for them. Other than that, I also recommend the blogs Profhacker and Gradhacker – they’ve covered a lot of tools over time.

        • Thanks for linking to the libguide. I got a little lost in there, in a good way. What fabulous resources… I’m also interested in how Zotero might integrated with Scrivener, so thanks for including that information. Scrivener is one of those apps that I own and always have the grand idea that one day I’ll learn it…

          • Mary A. Axford

            Same here. Scrivener is a tool that is mentioned often in Profhacker and/or Gradhacker. So many tools, so little time! ;-).

      • Mary A. Axford

        Bonnie, I notice the page of Zotero videos says please don’t distribute yet… are you ready to distribute them yet?

        • I’ll fix that. I originally created them as a means of learning a screencasting software. Nothing like a good project to get us learning a new application… My doctoral students said they really helped them learn Zotero. Some of the aesthetic changes I would make, if I were doing them, in the future, don’t seem to have detracted from the value. Thanks for asking, Mary.

  • fwade

    Thanks for the mention! My next book is coming out soon – Perfect Time-Based Productivity : A Professional Approach. It’s based on the latest science in a number of fields and comes after I tead over 400 peer-reviewed articles.

  • Thank you for mentioning the Teaching in Higher Ed blog, Mary. We recently launched our podcast, too, which may be found on Apple’s podcast app/iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. We are launching a PKM series in the coming weeks.

    I also offer a free Educational Technology Essentials guide, 19 tools to help make you more effective and efficient as a professor, for joining the weekly update.

    • Mary A. Axford

      Thanks so much for pointing us to additional resources. I have downloaded the 19 tools document and it looks really useful.

  • Tim

    Talking about free ebooks,this one might be of interest “Advice to a Troubled PHD Student,” which is absolutely free to download (along with other PHD related ebooks by the author,Rod Pitcher) Here’s the link to the ebook over at OBOOKO