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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Learning to Research, Part 3 The Library Webpage

Get to know the webpage
  1. Here is a screenshot of the page

  2. If you don’t know how to find something that you know should be available make use of the ask a librarian service, look on the left hand side, half way down you see “Want Help? Ask a Librarian” here is a link to that page:  from here I generally always use the chat, this is because it is efficient and concise as opposed to a phone conversation where you make small talk and can be put on hold and you are stuck standing there with a phone in your hand. Being a multitasker, I just switch back to what I was doing while I wait on the chat response. If this doesn’t work out I will call or go in person. Many times I am in a “research zone” mentally and the last thing I want to do is get distracted, another reason the chat works best for me, it is a bit impersonal and that’s what I need to stay focused.
  3. Useful things to explore before starting your research
    1. Research Guides – Also located on the Home page under Find, the second link down. Click on the link, from here there are a lot of guides available. Each librarian can make their own guide on different topics. We want to focus on Engineering so
    2. On the right hand side click on Engineering, it takes you to here every one of these guides are useful to you when starting research. Once you get going you may never look at these again but you should now I will point out a few but look at all of them.
                                                               i.      Databases - links you to a list of databases. Look at the top of the screen, there are tabs.
1.      Find Engineering & Computer Science hover and click Computer/Electrical Engineering
2.      You now see a listing of Best Databases and Other Databases. Read this page! Once you are into a domain specific topic you will be using the Best Databases list often, and mostly IEEE Xplore. But first we will use the Web of Science to get a general idea of what’s going on in your world of DSP.
                                                             ii.      ………..PAUSE

So right about now you are reading and thinking do I really need to know all of this general information. Yes, you do. The reason is DSP is not a free standing topic most of the time; you will be intersecting the topic of DSP with something else like medical devices, measurement devices, music, video, images, basically any industry. If you name any industry I can tell you how DSP could help or already does.

Lets continue Part 3 a little later I need some coffee.

Learning to Research, Part 2 Citation Management

Ok lets get started:

Setting up Citation Software, (yes you really need to do this first).

UCF students currently have the benefit to choose between EndNote and RefWorks citation management software. What is the difference? Personality preference is everything when it comes to choosing. My personality was such that I have accounts with both.

Choose EndNote if:
- You like to use one computer for all of your needs (tablets and smart phones do not count as computers in this instance)
- You like to back up your own references so you know you will not lose it if someone elses server crashes
- You write/read papers when you don't have access to the internet sometimes.
- You use Microsoft Word to Write your papers and don’t want to wait for the latest RefWorks updates to play nice with Microsoft. In my opinion it currently takes too many steps to get your references into your document and have it automatically update.

Choose RefWorks if:
-You continually switch between computers when you are doing research. By doing research I mean searching the web for papers to read, reading e-books, etc or writing your own paper.
-You want someone else to back up your sources
-Sometimes you even use a smartphone or tablet to do database searches and read papers.
-You don’t mind having to do a few extra steps when writing your final paper
-You are working with a group on a project, references are shareable easier than through EndNote.

Choose both if you like aspects of both lists above and want the best of both worlds. It turns out EndNote and RefWorks play well together. So choose both if:
-When you are on the go you do searches on multiple devices, use RefWorks to log those citations
-You want a seamless experience adding references to your papers use EndNote.
-You want an internet and home back up of your references.

But remember to always always always transfer your RefWorks References to EndNote and vice versa to make sure you have all of your resources available.

For this initial stage of research we will be using RefWorks only until you pick a topic. But feel free to set up both accounts.

Get started:

  1. Create a RefWorks account, you will need to use the links above and use your library login to create the account. Use the quick start guide if it gets confusing. Call/email me if it is still confusing.
  2. Learn how to add folders
  3. Learn how to import references
  4. Set up your default citation settings to IEEE format.
  5. Always double check references before logging out, make sure all info that you need is entered.
  6. Every time you start a new topic of research create a new folder and add your papers to this folder
  7. It is also a good idea to have sub-folders in each topic area that are something along the lines of:
    1. Read an Liked it
    2. Read and Hated it
    3. Gray Area
    4. Unread
  8. In the beginning, all of the papers and sources you have will be in the unread folder and as you go through them sort them accordingly.
  9. The Gray Area is important because you do not always know if the resource is useful or not until you become a subject matter expert so don’t hesitate to use this subfolder.

Ok, I'm going to leave this here and there will probably be another part on this later once it is time to write a paper or dissertation.... but for now on to the next topic.

Learning to Research, Part 1 Things to know

This blog is going to be a series of entries to help out PhD Students looking for help on how to do research. Specifically I will be focusing on Electrical Engineering and Digital Signal Processing for UCF students. I started writing notes for a friend and thought, why not blog it so anyone I know can read it if they like. So here is part 1, Things you need to know before we get started:

If you are not a UCF student a lot of this will still apply to you, you will simply be using your schools library website.

This website is your best friend . It will get you free access to most of the things you need, not only journal articles but e-books and copies of things through inter-library loan system.

Effective research will save you a lot of time; schedule an appointment with a research librarian by going to this link, it seems silly but its not. I went to a class the library offered and it really helped motivate me once I knew all the tools available. Do not expect to solve all of your problems with one meeting, but do have a list of what you want to accomplish and let the librarian know before you show up what you hope to accomplish. Rich Gause in particular will do his homework before meeting with you to make the most of your consultation.

The biggest thing you need in order to keep on track is a weekly meeting, even if it isn’t with your advisor. You need to talk with someone once a week about what you plan to do and what you actually did. It doesn’t matter if they know anything about your topic, it creates a guilt factor that makes you do something every week. The hardest way to do the PhD is with a family and a job, and this is what I am doing so I hope this helps if it is what you need to do as well.

It will not be easy, even if you have help. You will get mad at your peers, advisor, family, friends, and yourself. Accept this and realize when it happens that everyone really does want to support you, generally we are not trying to make your life harder.

The last really big item is that you need to keep track of every source you look at even if you plan to use it or not. Create accounts with endnote and refworks, more on this later, but here is the link to free versions since you are a ucf student