23: library as a research tool

December 21, 2015 – 10:47 am


Well –  we’re finally at the end of 23 Research Things @ACU. For our final post we thought we’d take a look at the ACU Library itself and the services it provides for researchers. Over the past few months we’ve presented a range of digital tools and, of course, different people will find some tools to be of greater importance to their research than others. The Library, on the other hand, is pretty central to academic research: yes, as library professionals we might be a tad biased in that assessment but almost all researchers will at some point make use of the Library’s services and tools. The library has a lot of offer!

Getting started: Library Research webpages

The library research webpages cover information for the entire research life-cycle:

  • Beginning your research
    • Start here to find out about the library resources, and one-to-one support, available to researchers.
  • Managing your research
    • Get access to software to assist with various research activities, and discover tools for establishing a unique researcher ID.
  • Publishing and promoting your research
    • See how the library can support and promote your research publications, and find information on a range of publishing issues.
  • Measuring your research impact
    • Find resources to help navigate the techniques used for measuring the impact of researchers and their publications.

Getting started: Library Research Guides

These research guides are a series of guides designed specifically for researchers.

Individual guides:

These are all designed with ACU researchers in mind and link to databases and services to which the University Library provides direct access.

Research Consultations

Academic staff and graduate students are welcome to book a research consultation with a Liaison librarian. Liaison Librarians provide support for researchers and are available on all campuses.  They can assist you with:

  • Finding resources relevant to your research
  • Designing search strategies for your literature or systematic review
  • Setting up saved searches and journal alerts in databases
  • Answering your questions about library services

Getting hold of that book

Despite the increasing availability of research publications in digital formats, a lot of important work is still published only in print. If we don’t hold a copy of the book that you need, you can request it by filling out an online interlibrary loan form.


Bibliographic: for storing, managing and sharing references and citation details, and creating bibliographies in your chosen referencing style. Instructions for getting a copy of EndNote, or creating an account to access the web-based RefWorks program, are in the subject guides.

ACU Research provides access and support for the following software packages:

  • SPSS – statistical analysis software
  • NVivo – qualitative data analysis software

Keep in touch

Get to know your local subject specific Liaison Librarian.

We also provide 24/7 chat in semester if you have quick queries (chat box appears on all Library web pages).

Subscribe to Library News for current news, information and updates about Library services and events.

You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Question for Thing 22:

Is there more? If you had unlimited resources (time, money and staff) what services would you love the Library to provide for researchers at ACU?



23 Research Things is an initiative of the ACU Library, and is inspired by the University of Melbourne’s 23 Things for Research, the Bodleian Library’s 23 Things for Research, and the DH23 Things program at the University of Cambridge.  The original 23 Things program was developed by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County in the USA in 2006.

There is however, absolutely no way this program would have occurred without the inspiration and use of the the University of Melbourne’s 23 Things for Research,

Image credit: 23 https://flic.kr/p/gk2fY by https://www.flickr.com/photos/fraumrau/

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22: on the horizon…what more is out there?

December 21, 2015 – 9:46 am

photo of people lloking at the horizon over the water


More than just on the horizon…it’s here!

3D printing

3D printing is by no means a new process but it has become very popular recently due to its increasing affordability. It basically works by turning digital 3D models into physical objects by a process called additive manufacturing, where the models are created from a large range of different materials layer by layer. What is 3D printing?

Things to watch/read

Augmented Reality

Again, AR has been around for a while.  AR is “…is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” (from Wikipedia: Augmented Reality  which explains the basics with applications to varying areas such as architecture, construction, medical and military).

Things to watch/read

  • Aurasma: Aurasma anyone to  ‘layer’ information over a real-world view – whether that’s a landscape or a painting, some text or an object.  Access to the basic tools is free and allows anyone to upload a ‘trigger’ image and create ‘overlays’ that you get when you scan the trigger image. Anyone can then use the free Aurasma app to scan the trigger.
  • Layar: Similar in many ways to Aurasma. Also offers a free basic model (though it may have ads).
  • Google Glass: remember Google Glass a few years ago? Google announced in January 2015 that they were pulling Google Glass from public sale, read Whatever Happened To Google Glass? Should We Keep Waiting?
  • AR at JISC: “…creating AR applications to bring innovation to education, by developing new ways for students to discover supplementary information that cannot be seen by the naked eye and helping them to become inspired by their subjects. By using AR we can provide an innovative learning experience – think 3D maps, discovering rare manuscripts, medical trials or even finding fossils on field trips”.
  • Google Sky Map (Android only): An Android implementation of Google Sky that allows you to use your smart phone or tablet, pointed at the sky, to get location-based information about what you see above you.
  • Ingress (Android only): Perhaps less of an educational tool, Ingress is an augmented reality massive multiplayer online game that uses location-based ‘portals’ at places of public art, landmarks, etc. to shape a story with a strong sci-fi influence.

Question for Thing 22:

Put on your rose coloured glasses. Is there any tool/trend/*thing* out on the horizon that you would like to share or discuss? If not pick one of the links above and read/reflect/discuss.

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/park-bench-seat-sitting-couple-289087/

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21: managing video and audio material

December 15, 2015 – 10:46 am
1927:  The actress Renee Adoree (1898-1933) plays with a stuffed lion during a break in the filming of, 'The Show' (directed by Tod Browning and produced by MGM) in which she stars with John Gilbert.  (Photo by Margaret Chute/Getty Images)

1927: The actress Renee Adoree (1898-1933) plays with a stuffed lion during a break in the filming of, ‘The Show’ (directed by Tod Browning and produced by MGM) in which she stars with John Gilbert. (Photo by Margaret Chute/Getty Images)




We have very quickly looked at screen capture tools (thing 19) and making and sharing podcasts and videos (thing 20). There are a lot of resources out there, and here is just the start of a compilation of tips, links and advice…

General video and audio production guidelines

Audience: Who do you want to watch your video? Does it need to be private or will you allow anyone view it? These factors can influence the production style and hosting options required.

Production aspects: What equipment do you have available? Will you film yourself or need help in production?

Video quality: There are many aspects that go into getting quality video production, it’s not just what type of camera you use (although a good camera helps!).

Audio quality: Having the microphone close to the speaker with a lapel or a shotgun on a boom is great way to get clear speech. Using the on-camera microphone is generally not recommended unless the speaker is less than 1 meter away. Be aware of background noise when filming and look for quiet locations. Before exporting your final version, make sure the audio is as loud as can be without distorting.

Formats: The most common format for delivery online is h.264. Keep in mind that services such as YouTube and Vimeo recompress uploaded files for delivery to multiple devices. Details for YouTube.

Privacy: Think not just about who your intended audience is but also about who it isn’t: how wide an audience are you aiming to reach? Are you producing content that should be limited to an internal audience, for example? Vimeo has good privacy controls over videos whereas YouTube’s offerings are more limited.

Copyright: Be aware of the various copyright policies regarding online audio and video. Generally speaking, don’t include any third-party content without permission or correct licensing.

Releases: Before recording, make sure the people in your audio or video recording are aware of where the video may end up. Do you need to get signed photo and audio consent forms from participants?

Video Transcription and Captioning: How will this happen? How accessible is your video?


Other helpful notes
If you need copyright-appropriate images, clips or sounds/music to use in your podcasts, videos or presentations, there are some great search tools out there:

Question for Thing 21:

What other comments, suggestions, tips or tricks can you add to this post?


Image credit: Renee And The Lion. Photographer. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 15 Dec 2015.

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20: making and sharing podcasts and videos

December 15, 2015 – 10:45 am

photo of a microphone and computer


Audio may seem ‘old school’, but it can be useful to researchers in a number of ways.  As a dictation tool for quick note-taking and capturing ideas, or for recording interviews that can be transcribed later. Podcasts are also a popular method of sharing and promoting information to a wider audience.


You may already have some basic sound recording software on your computer. It is recommended you use an external microphone (preferably a USB mic) to give you better quality sound and to get rid of any background noise.  Consider the following software packages:

Most smartphones come with an inbuilt sound recorder for voice memos.  If you don’t have one or are looking for something more professional, there is something to suit you platform and budget via Android or Apple.


Most of the sound recording software will also come with editing functionality. However, here are a couple that you might want to have a play with:

Sharing and hosting

Basic audio files can be shared between colleagues very easily using tools such as Dropbox, which were covered in Thing 4. However, if you want to promote your research widely, perhaps you should consider creating a podcast.

audioboom is is a website and an application for iOS and Android which allows users to listen to, record and share sound files (you might have know it previously as Audioboo). “audioBoom allows smartphone and website users to record, upload and playback digital audio recordings, which can be then listened to on the audioBoom website, listened via the apps, embedded in a user’s own website, Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr feed, and submitted to iTunes as a podcast feed. Image, location, title, description, category and tags can be enclosed with any uploaded clip” – wikipedia.

Podbean: Another podcast hosting platform, Podbean is again both desktop- and app-friendly and is designed to be shared through a number of the major social media channels.



YouTube is the second highest-used social media platform in Australia, which gives a clear indication of the power and outreach of video. Consider the popularity of TED talks, which have now branched out into TEDx and TED-Ed talks. The Khan Academy has also changed how we learn online. However, MOOCs continues to be a big influence on higher education and teaching, sharing content online through the medium of video. Even if you simply want to record a performance, lab experiment or interview as part of your research, there are several low cost ways of capturing video, including web cam, portable device or even your trusty digital camera.

If you film your video in one take – congratulations to you!  Most of us will need to edit what we’ve recorded. This also allows you to add introductory images, overlay audio and music and use more professional transitions between scenes. Your computer will already come with some software programs you can use.

YouTube allows you to record and upload directly to their website as well as perform basic editing and effects. YouTube’s recent iOS app makeover includes video editing features – Mashable. And of course there are many, many how-to videos on You Tube (an example).

The Mashable post on “Ten excellent video editing apps” is also useful.

Publishing your video

You can put your video up on a video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo, and these are often the best place to start. Once you’ve uploaded a video there, it’s easy to grab a code snippet that allows you to embed your file in a blog, or on another website.

Saving your data

If you have used audio or video to capture data for your own research, you will also need to think about long-term storage.

Question for Thing 20:

Share a video or podcast that you has had an impact on you? What made it so?? Have some fun with this- it may be a TED talk or a podcast or someone explaining or demonstrating their research or interests??


Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/microphone-audio-radio-computer-639192/

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19: screen capture tools

December 15, 2015 – 8:45 am

photo of computer screens and a workplace

Making your own podcast or video can be fairly straightforward, and there are lots of free tools to make it easier and add bells and whistles. For now, we’ll deal separately with screen capture tools, which offer a video recording of action on a computer screen (with or without an audio track). In the next thing, we’ll look at making and sharing podcasts and videos (thing 20).

Screen capture tools
Screen capture tools allow you to make a video, often narrated, showing how to do something on a computer. They record your mouse as well as everything you click on and show on your screen. Screen capture is a great way for showing students, colleagues or a wider audience how to use an online tool.

There are a number of screencasting tools available, both free and for purchase. Many areas of the university use Adobe Captivate, which has some great features (it does cost, but the University has a licence for Captivate). But there are other options, and we’ll cover a couple free tools (and a couple of tools that cost) that you could also use.

Some general tips:

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Write a script and run through what you’ll be demonstrating in advance

Screencast-o-matic is fairly intuitive, so you can get started right away. You may want to create an account (so that you can store and keep track of your videos), and you can also watch a short demo that walks you through the recording steps (demo video is less than 2 minutes).

  • To begin, press ‘Start recording’. A frame will appear (make sure Java is enabled – if this is an issue then you can download an app); you can drag and resize this frame to suit your needs, and you’ll also see some options for size, etc. Once you’re ready, simply press the red button and go. If you don’t want to record anything, make sure you mute your computer’s microphone (otherwise you’ll get a lot of white noise).
  • When you’ve finished, press the ‘done’ button and choose where to upload your video

You can download a free version of Jing. Jing Tutorials take you through how to use Jing. You will get a ‘Sun Launcher’ button on your screen. Hover over the sun and choose ‘Capture’. Click and drag to select a portion of your screen, and then release the mouse when you are happy with the image you have selected.

  • From here, you can do two things: 1) take a still screenshot or 2) make a video. You can annotate your screenshots with text or arrows. When you’re happy with what you’ve done, click the ‘save’ button.

Other free screen capture tools:

Some screen capture tools that cost:

Remember many free tools offer a more advanced option at a cost. This is just a few of the screen capture tools available that do cost money, so you are not expected to pay for but you may want to just visit their webpages and read about them. You can often download a free trial if you are really interested!

  • Screenflow– Screencasting and video editing software for Mac – record, edit and share!
  • Camtasia–  “Easily record your screen movements and actions, or import HD video from a camera or other source. Customize and edit content both on Mac and Windows platforms, and share your videos with viewers on nearly any device”.

Publishing your screen capture
You can put your video up on a video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo, and these are often the best place to start. Once you’ve uploaded a video there, it’s easy to grab a code snippet that allows you to embed your file in a blog, or on another website.


Question for Thing 19:

Most have you have used Captivate. You may want to explore one of the other free tools. Please share your top 5 tips for using a screen capture tool.


Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/computer-calculator-workplace-414059/#

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18: text mining tools

November 20, 2015 – 1:44 pm
Gold Mining in California. Scenes of the 1849 Californian Gold Rush showing cradling, panning, washing with a 'long tom' and hydraulic mining. Coloured lithograph by Currier and Ives 1871.

Gold Mining in California. Scenes of the 1849 Californian Gold Rush showing cradling, panning, washing with a ‘long tom’ and hydraulic mining. Coloured lithograph by Currier and Ives 1871.


Text Mining, also often referred to as Text Data Mining or Text Analytics, is a process of filtering out specific or high-quality information from (usually) a large collection of texts via the use of various statistical and/or machine-learning algorithms.

Text mining tools enable us to extract core facts and trends from a large body of data and process those facts to derive patterns and structures that will help us make inferences and predictions about the output. This is a big topic and there are a large number of tools available, but to get started with text mining we’ll look at some examples that are easy to learn and that should help you to get started with basic text analysis.

Voyant Tools

Voyant Tools (formerly known as Voyeur) is a user-friendly, web-based reading and analysis environment for digital texts. Voyant Tools lets you work with your own text collections in a variety of formats (e.g., plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, and MS Word). It also allows you to work directly with existing text collections on the Internet just by typing in the website’s URL.

Voyant Tools is probably the most powerful web-based tool for generic text analysis. It particularly excels when you’re dealing with large bodies of text and it also allows you to develop their own scripts to extend its functionality.

Its web interface is extremely easy to use. You can perform many basic text-analysis tasks without spending too much time reading the manual. Many of its built-in functions (e.g., visualising the frequencies and trends of the selected text within a particular document) are performed automatically as soon as the file is loaded. Voyant also allows you to insert a direct URL link to any Web page and start analysing it automatically.

There is also a wide range of tools that can be used with Voyant for additional features. Find out more here.


TAPoRware is a similar suite of online tools that allows you to perform text analysis on HTML, XML and plain text files. It can also analyse websites via their URLs.

Written in Ruby (an open-source programming language), TAPoRware consists of a set of text analysis tools that you can use online to analyse HTML, XML and plain text files. Again, you can also analyse web pages and documents just by simply providing the relevant URL. Each TAPoRware tool can also be used as a web service via TAPoR Portal.

The interface of each tool is clean-cut with a very minimalist feel to it.

Orange Text Mining

Orange Text Mining is an add-on for Orange data mining software package that extends Orange by providing tools for analysing texts. Orange is an open-source data analysis and visualisation tools for both novice and experts using Python scripting. Several add-ons available for specialised bioinformatics or text mining purposes.

Orange is a desktop application that requires local installation first and it offers the best performance of the three tools discussed in this post but is also perhaps the more complicated. It’s also an ‘open source’ tool as opposed to the other two ‘closed source’ options.

Orange offers different visualisation outputs (e.g., bar charts, scatter plots, dendrograms, networks, heat maps, etc.) and also allows you to design your own data analysis steps via its visual programming environment. A Python scripting interface is also available for users to code their own algorithms as well as develop complex data analysis procedures.


As always when using these analytical tools (especially those only available online) to analyse your data, you must consider carefully the potential privacy risks and what measures (e.g. anonymisation of personal or sensitive data) will be needed to mitigate those risks.

Table of Comparisons

Voyant Tools


Orange Text Mining






Closed source

Closed source

GPL / GNU General Public License





Tool type

Web application

Web application

Desktop application

Import formats




Export formats




And even more…

Needless to say, given the depth of this topic, this post is only able to cover a small fraction of available text mining tools. There are certainly other options that might also be worth considering depending on your specific requirements. For instance, Juxta is an open-source multi-platform desktop tool that provides a user-friendly interface and can perform many textual criticism tasks on TXT and XML files.

KNIME Analytics Platform is yet another powerful tool for analysing datasets. It’s open-source (GPL license) and offers rich features, such as data pre-processing and cleansing, data modelling, data analysis and data mining.

Question for Thing 18:

Explore a tool and blog/comment on it. Also take a look at some other participant’s experiences with this *thing*.


Image credit:

Gold Mining in California. Scenes of the 1849 Californian Gold Rush showing cradling, panning, washing with a ‘long tom’ and hydraulic mining. Coloured lithograph by Currier and Ives 1871. . [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

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17: visualisation tools

November 13, 2015 – 9:50 am


Zombie Apocalypse – https://public.tableau.com/s/gallery/zombie-apocalypse using Tableau Public

Researchers produce data in a variety of forms and usually in large quantities. Visualisation tools can help you to synthesize this data and provide engaging ways for presenting it to a broader audience.  This week we take a look at a range of some popular visualisation tools that work for various different types of data.  

Google Public Data Explorer is a tool developed by Google Labs that makes large datasets easy to explore, visualise and understand. It offers a simple way of generating different views and graphs (e.g., bar charts, line graphs, etc.) to better understand and present data.

Currently a range of public data (130 datasets as of 6 August 2014) from organisations and academic institutions—including US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Eurostat, Statistics Iceland, etc.—are available for users to explore interactively. You can also upload your own datasets, using the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL) format, to Google Public Data Explorer for visualisation and exploration.

It is important to note that you will NOT be able to export data, only manipulate them within theGoogle Data Explorer environment. However, you can embed the data as part of a website or email the link to someone else. The tool produces interactive, animated graphics using the four available chart formats, i.e., Line Chart, Bar Chart, Map Chart and Bubble Chart. More information at Google Public Data help.


Gapminder is a visualisation software package created by a Swedish Foundation, directed by Hans Rosling, to help enliven and disseminate freely available social science data using animated, interactive graphs.

Gapminder is powered by a software called Trendalyzer (which is owned and licensed by Google) and comes with a staggering range of data collected worldwide (519 datasets as of 6 August 2014), on subjects from national economies to AIDS.

It is also possible to use Gapminder to display data over a map so the statistical changes can be seen geographically. However, it has a limited ability to upload and visualise private datasets (possibly via the use of Google Docs) with certain functionalities (e.g., map) not supported.

Tableau Public

Tableau Public is a free desktop tool for generating interactive data visualisation, graphs and reports onto the Internet. You can use this application to analyse any type of structured dataset, and can publish the work to Tableau Public web servers where they will be readily accessible to the general public.

Tableau Public is an advanced desktop tool for people who don’t have programming skills but still want to create highly interactive data visualisations on the web. It offers a “visual data window” that allows you to connect different data sources by simply pointing and clicking. You can also apply various filters before exporting the data. Tableau Public can connect to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and multiple text file formats but has a limit of 1,000,000 rows of data in any single file.

There are a rich selection of visualisation features such as “word cloud”, “bubble map”, “tree map”, etc. After the data is published, you can browse these visualisations using Tableau Viz, a thin AJAX-based application, directly within their web browsers.

The published data saved to Tableau Public is accessible by the general public but the you can remove your content later if needed. There are also paid versions of Tableau software, namely Tableau Personal and Tableau Professional, that allow you to save your visualisation works locally.

Google Public Data Explorer


Tableau Public

Cost Free Free Free
Type Web Web/Desktop
Visualisation types Basic Basic Advanced
Use own datasets Yes Yes (but limited) Yes
Visualisation output No No Image, PDF or data
Total storage limit N/A N/A 1GB


Oh, there are always more!

The 37 best tools for data visualization

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has ABS TableBuilder – an online self-help tool which enables users to create tables, graphs and maps of Australian Census data.

Tools vary from ready-to-use options to the more technical….and there are some free, open-source JavaScript libraries that you can use to develop your own visualisations on your own website. For example, Timeline is a web widget that creates interactive horizontal timelines (great for visualising temporal data), Modest Maps is a small but extensive library for generating interactive maps, and Flot is a jQuery library for plotting attractive interactive graphs.


Most of the tools discussed here use publicly available datasets for generating the visualisations and graphs. When using a tool that allows you to upload your own data collection, for instance Tableau Public, you need to consider if these are any restrictions on those data being hosted on a public server.

Question for Thing 17:

[Imagine] Think about the role of data in your research, and what formats you’re expected to present it in. Will any of these tools be useful?

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16: mapping tools

November 13, 2015 – 9:44 am

Mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) provide a way to visualise and contextualise complex data. There is a wide range of software available that researchers can use to display and share their research data via blogs, Google Earth & Maps and social media. Whether you’re uploading information from spreadsheets to show geographical distribution or overlaying historical photos on streetview maps, visualising information can help make complex data more easily understood. Many of the sites we’ll discuss here are also useful as research tools themselves, and some enable you to contribute information yourself and add to an ever-expanding knowledge-base. The information and links below are just a start!


Geotagging is the process of assigning the geographic coordinates of a camera’s location at the time an image was created (i.e., placing the camera on a map).


Newer cameras and smart phones will have GPS incorporated in their software. If not, you may need to connect a separate GPS device. In that case, record a log of your position and time when taking photographs. Applications (listed below) can then use the GPS log to embed the position into the image metadata. Alternatively, you can do this manually once you’ve located the image position on a map.

Most photo-sharing sites will automatically place images on a map based on any metadata embedded in the image.

Free Tools

Things to explore


Georeferencing is the process of assigning geographic coordinates to features within an image (i.e., making a map from an image). This allows you to compare directly maps, aerial photography and satellite imagery with other geographical data making it a very effective tool for tracking changes in locations over time.

Georeferenced maps of Melbourne

Georeferenced maps of Melbourne (https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitisation-uom/14015244981/)


Georeferencing is a bit more complicated than geotagging and requires additional information for a single image. A number of applications can facilitate the process, while the complexity of the task depends on the accuracy required.

Google Earth provides a simple way to overlay images above satellite imagery and maps. By adjusting the transparency of the image, you can see the underlying map enabling you to manually move, scale and rotate the image until they are aligned.

More complex geographical information systems (GIS), such as QGIS, ARCGIS and Global Mapper include georeferencing tools as part of their functionality.

Tools to try

Things to explore:


Historypin aims to build an understanding of the world through user-generated content. Using geotagging with Google maps, users can ‘pin’ photographs to a map, and add contextual information such as a title, description, date, creator and any copyright conditions. Once the photo has been pinned, other users can add comments to the image, providing further depth and context. Historypin allows you to present research visually and can also be used as a research tool itself, providing a repository of photographs and personal memories that can be used to reconstruct the history of place. Images can also easily be shared through over 200 social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger and WordPress.

Pins can be grouped in a variety of ways. Collections of photographs are linked by theme, subject, date or any other way the user wishes, giving a specific context to a group of images. Tours allow pinners to arrange their pins in a specific order to provide a visual narrative of a place, event or period. The March on Washington takes the viewer on the civil rights rally in August 1963 around Washington, DC.

The Streetview feature allows you to overlay images on Google Maps’ streetview, blurring the line between the past and the present. The process can be somewhat time consuming and can only be used where Google Maps Streetview is available, so there are some limitations. UMA Historypin profile shows the original School of Engineering in its contemporary surroundings.

Photograph of the School of Engineering (c. 1901) pinned onto Google Streetview

Historypin runs community workshops based around oral history projects. You can apply to coordinate your own research project or approach an institution to work collaboratively. The ‘Changes Places: Yarra Ranges’ Main Streets project was led by Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, highlighting the history of the Yarra Ranges region and fostering local identity, creating on ongoing educational resource.


With over 65,000 individual users, and over 18,000 institutions such as libraries, archives, museums, historical societies and schools contributing, Historypin’s audience is growing. Always remember to consider copyright and supply or follow the correct attribution information.


A great place to start visualising data on a map is CartoDB. Free for small maps, it lets you upload spreadsheets or other data, choose a visualisation type (bubble, category, intensity) and get an immediate result. You can tweak the visualisation’s colours, add custom marker images, and even write your own styling code in CartoCSS for advanced visualisations. Built in tools for geocoding (converting addresses to locations) and map embedding make it a great all-in-one platform, but you may find yourself reaching the limits of the free plan – and then it gets expensive.

Map Authoring

If you need to create map data from scratch, try:

  • Google MapsEngine Lite is a fairly powerful platform for creating map-based data: that is, drawing points, lines and polygons on a map, rather than uploading a spreadsheet in full.

Question for Thing 16:

Blog or comment on your experiences to date with any aspect/application of mapping tools. If you have no previous experience, what interests you about this topic?


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15: managing research data

November 5, 2015 – 5:45 pm


Recording Data with Bird in Hand. [Photography].

Research Data

So far on the 23 Research Things journey, you will have learned about the variety of tools to help you develop, communicate and present your research. This week we deal with something which you can spend a lot of time gathering, and analyzing, maybe sharing, or even tearing your hair out over- it’s your research data.

What is Research Data?

Research data can be facts, observations, images, computer program results, recordings, measurements or experiences that support an argument, theory, test or hypothesis or another research output.

Data can be text, numbers, images, sounds, artefacts, specimens or samples, and can exist in digital and physical formats. It can be in the form of documents, spreadsheets and presentations, laboratory notes, surveys, films, and slides, to name just a few!

You may not even use all the data that has been accumulated over the course of your research project, but you never know when you may need to revisit it, or need to provide it to support your findings, so not only do you need to accumulate it and store it, it needs to be managed.

Research Data Management though is a huge part of the research process, and I can tell you is that it’s becoming increasingly important- especially if you are funded for your research and if your research has required ethics approval.

Funding bodies are becoming increasingly aware of the need to ensure data is properly managed and stored, as the following  funding rules from the Australian Research Council state

Researchers and institutions have an obligation to care for and maintain research data in accordance with the NHMRC/ARC/UA Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007). The ARC considers data management planning an important part of the responsible conduct of research and strongly encourages the depositing of data arising from a Project in an appropriate publically accessible subject and/or institutional repository. ARC Discovery Project Funding Rules 2017 A11.5.2

Journals such as the Public Library of Science and Nature are requiring data underlying their findings to be made accessible.

If your research has required ethics approval, chances are you will have needed to complete a data management plan as part of the process.

So how do I manage my data?

One good place to start for those managing digital data is Mantra http://datalib.edina.ac.uk/mantra/

This is a free online course to assist those managing digital data, and explains data management plans, organizing data, storage and security, and documenting and citing data. There are a few online exercises aimed at reinforcing the brief clips and reading as part of the course.

ACU have a Research Data Management Toolkit which can further assist you.

8 Tips for Managing Research Data

  1. What do you plan to do with your data? Will you need to make it accessible or open as part of your funding arrangement? If you require survey respondents to complete a permission form authorizing the use of the data collected to create a publication, make mention of the data in the form. It will make your work easier if you capture this permission at the start.
  2. File Structure-There is no right way to structure your files and data, but it must be in a way that makes the data accessible and easy to locate. A consistent approach is strongly advised, so document your file management rules!
  3. Name your files meaningfully- your file name is the easiest way to find what you are looking for. This site http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/guide/choosing-a-file-name provides some great tips on choosing a file name.
  4. Version control- As you refine your data and your publications, you may find yourself needing to manage different versions of the same file. The “Save as..” prompt may be frequently used.
  5. Sensitive Data- all data needs to be handled well, and sensitive data especially so. Anonymising data
  6. Embed your data with tags- adding metadata to your files can help with further discoverability See http://libguides.mit.edu/metadataTools for more information.
  7. There are a multitude of storage options for Research Data, the Australian National Data Service has a list of options at http://ands.org.au/guides/storage.html You can choose from personal data options, institutional repositories, cloud-based options and discipline-based repositories. Your funding body or your institution may require you to store the data securely for a number of years.
  8. Describe your data! Research Data Australia collects metadata about datasets and is a great way to share what you have been researching. If you need any help in describing your data you can always ask a librarian 🙂

Questions for thing 15:

Check out the Mantra course- are there any takeaway messages from this site?

Have a look at https://datamanagementplanning.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/twenty-questions-for-research-data-management/

Are there any other questions you think should be asked?




Thanks to our own Stephanie McGlinchey for this post!


Image credit:
Recording Data with Bird in Hand. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

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14: reference management tools

October 30, 2015 – 8:43 am

Reference management systems enable you to save, store and manage your bibliographies while you’re searching for information across databases and web based resources. A reference management tool can also insert in-text citations as you write up your research, thus automatically building your reference lists. Use these time saving tools as personal libraries and even as sites of collaboration with other researchers. In this week’s post we look at four particular tools: EndNote, Zotero, RefWorks and Mendeley.

The Library has subscriptions to EndNote and RefWorks.


EndNote is a desktop program that allows you to store, file and search bibliographic references, PDFs and images. It has a unique ‘Cite While You Write’ functionality that inserts citations and bibliographies into your written work.

Your EndNote Library is a fully searchable database that you can annotate with research notes, which is great for literature reviews. You can link PDFs of articles to the relevant EndNote reference and also annotate these PDFs stored in your library. One of EndNote’s major strengths is its stability; it rarely fails. It has a cloud based back-up system in Endnote Online.

Endnote X7 imports PDFs and citation information directly from a folder on your desktop: great when you are finding articles through social media or other ‘non-traditional’ sources.

Well established: it’s up to version 17. Steep learning curve – but once learnt and set up for your purposes can be very easy to use.
Wide user-base in the academic community: more opportunity for peer support. Limited portability and sharing: EndNote is also now available with limited functionality as a web-based version (EndNote Online).
Well supported: Thomson Reuters (You Tube, Google).
Customisation: an expansive range of editing output styles, document types.


Zotero is a free, open-source program (there are premium options available for a subscription fee), that can be used to create, store and organise references into folders. You can attach PDFs and other files to references in your library and insert citations into Word, Google Docs and Open Office. References can be tagged and sorted to allow advanced searching.

Versions of Zotero

  • Zotero for Firefox is a browser extension enabling you to capture and organise references without leaving Firefox. A plugin is needed to insert citations into Word documents.
  • Zotero Standalone is a separate program downloaded to your computer and can integrate with Firefox, Chrome or Safari. Word plugins are included.

An advantage of Zotero is that you can export lists of articles (and PDFs) or books from many major databases and websites with just a few clicks. It’s also useful for exporting references from less traditional resources like websites and wikis. In addition to the standard import/export tools, you can also attach files or notes to references, sync multiple computers with your account, add items by ISBN or DOI, and assign collections or tags to your items to help you organise them. Zotero also offers mobile apps.

You can also set up a Zotero web account to sync your library from any location. Zotero takes advantage of its syncing and online capabilities to offer social networking; you can create groups – either public (open to all) or private (invite only) – and share your reference lists with others.

Zotero: Useful resources and Quick start guide

Tight browser integration. Only works with Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
Free, open source, and actively developed. Cannot automatically format citations in Author (Year) style.
Functionality can be extended with add-ons.


RefWorks is a cloud-based application that allows you to store, organise, search and retrieve bibliographic references in a web-hosted account. Like other reference management tools, it works with Word to insert citations and create a bibliography.

Refworks: Useful resources

As long as you have an internet connection, you can access your references from anywhere without the need to move your reference library from different computers. You can’t access the user interface offline
Safe from loss or damage to a PC or laptop (as the references are stored in the cloud). If you’re offline, any new citations and references added to RefWorks cannot be inserted into Word if the programs aren’t synchronised.
Easy to use, and generally simpler and more intuitive than its rival, EndNote.
As it’s online, references can be shared easily with other RefWorks accounts


Mendeley is a free application comprising two components – Mendeley Web and Mendeley Desktop – that allow you to generate citations and bibliographies in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and LaTex. You can add and organise PDFs in your library from your computer, as well as import PDFs from other reference management tools such as EndNote, Papers or Zotero. PDFs can be read and annotated using sticky notes and highlighting tools.

Mendeley’s strength lies in its networking and collaboration functionality (mentioned in Thing 6). Researchers can collaborate securely online to share papers, notes and annotations with peers and can network and discover papers, people and public groups. Users can form groups that can be either public or private. Public groups are open for new members to join and share resources and communicate with each other.

As with most contemporary reference tools, Mendeley can sync your library via the web, iPhone or iPad. Like Zotero, Mendeley offers a free version as well as the option to pay for premium features. Take a look at its getting started videos to get a feel for how it works.

Mendeley offers some great tools beyond the basics. If you are starting with a great deal of files you want to organise (rather than researching from scratch), you can pull data from your computer into Mendeley. You can also use Mendeley’s PDF editor to annotate your PDF articles. Like Zotero, you can sync your account across various computers and the cloud. There’s also an iPad/iPhone app.

Mendeley: Useful resources.

Free (2 GB storage). PDF specific.
Extensive social networking features. Strong science community presence, but not humanities.
Crowd-sourced research catalogue of over 100 million papers. Syncing between desktop app and Mendeley web can be slow.
Easy to edit citations in Word. Beware copyright issues when sharing copyrighted PDFs.
Can access Mendeley library across various platforms.

Further Comparisons

Question for Thing 14:

Are you using a reference management program? If so, which one do you prefer and why? Any recommendations for other programs?

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