Avoiding Information Overload


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  • Conrad Gessner 16th century swiss scientist BibliotecaUniversalisFor coping with the published bookAnn Blair Reading strategies for coping with information overload 1550-1700Todays session is intended as a guide to help you wade through what could potentially inundate and overcome you during your research. Some of the tips may sound very simple and straightforward and indeed some of you may already apply the methods. By general advice I mean that tips are all they are I am not going to dictate to you how you should manage your information but I am hoping that all of you will be able to take away something new that will help you.Suggestions that will help you manage your data particularly with regard to library/information resources – searching, tailoring searches and information that comes to you This is important to you because these tips will save you precious time in the long run. General advice, not prescriptiveSearching advicePersonalisation Online bookmarking toolsCurrent awareness services
  • Are any of you familiar with thisThis is Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework that details all the competencies that a good researcher should developMost of the development opportunities that you choose to undertake here at Manchester map onto this.Todays session translates into the time management section of Personal Effectiveness as well as Knowledge Base and Information literacy and management.
  • It is your turn to choose which of the tips you want to look at in more detail!As we go along think about how you might put some of these into action jot them down on your action plan.
  • MAP IT Draw a map or some kind of graphical representation of your plan. A conceptual model or a rich picture will help you link areas of making it easy to see your research and if you update them you can keep a track of where you are up to. You can add key pieces of information that may even begin to help you draw themes together for your literature review. Add key pieces of literature.Use Mindgenius or MindjetAdvantagesIf you make the plan early enough in your research it will save timeRefreshes you memory of your thought processes. Can help to explain to others your theoryCan be up dated to illustrate a live record of your thinkingWill help in planning actions, activities structure and sequence of writingGood for illustrations In her book Elizabeth Orna talks about mapping your research journey this will help you over time and help you save time
  • TIME there isn’t enough of it. It constantly catches up with us.Schedule your time…think about how long you may have and what can be achieved. When you start to search for literature time often runs away with you. So think about how long you should dedicate to searching the literature. When will you stop?Dead time…sitting on the bus or the train, waiting in the doctors or dentists surgery. Think about a project plan to help you break up the tasks that you need to complete and allocate time slots to them. Do a broad scale covering milestones and a week by week breakdown Relate activities together, update map accordingly. Use excel or mind geniusWhat are the deadlinesWhat are the most important things to do What is the best order for them How long will they takeA plan will help you to work out what tasks can be done concurrently. Work out when you are at your best…morning then do the high concentration jobs then. Then stick to it.
  • Think about how you can make technology work for you to save time.Distracting technology like PDAs mobile phones These are all wonderful gadgets that the student of 20 years ago did not have! Useful as they are even in research sometimes they have a place but if they are not being useful they can be a hindrance. This is when you need to turn them off!!!!This is common amongst may of the things that I am going to tell you about today. It really is a careful balance. Sometimes you may try things and they do not work and you may need to change them around. It may be useful to have a separate e-mail for your research unless you have strong willpower that will stop you reading those personal e-mails in your research time Eg. Use your university e-mail Businesses are often advised to check their email twice a day. Make use of technology set up your files on you pc begin with those vital to your research. Orna recommends more but I think that these are the very minimumUniversity research regulationsProposalMap/Rich pictureProject plansResearch diaryKeep them up to date then when you have a meeting with your supervisor all you need to do is print them off. Saving time!
  • Take control of your search! Before you begin to search write a profile and keep a diary of searches that you perform and what keywords that you useThink of useful keywords and rank them according to relevanceCreate a formulaAs you perform your searches you will come across new keyword that may be useful….use your diaryThere are a number of books available to help you with this kind of thing and other areas of your study Hart OrnaHandout Study Skills Bibliography
  • Ensure that the discovery tools that you are using are fit for purposeNot just the ones that you are familiar with! Check for new sources of info and their coverage and legitimacy.This will help refine the number of results that you get back from your query You should always check the resource overview or ask your ALL if you are unsure of where to look particularly if your subject is multi-disciplinaryBecause electronic information is always changing you may be required to record where you have performed your searches. You may have seen this in some published material…..the name of the database, the keywords and the number of hits that were retrieved. Another good reason to keep a diary.
  • This will refine the results that you get and reduce the noiseFind out the limiters that can be applied by your discovery tool - year/languageHow that will help your search strategy figure this into your search profile that you have writtenEg. Date of publication, languageEven Google Scholar has limiters!Have any of used Boolean searching?
  • Use reference management software to keep track of references. E.g. Endnote/RefworksSoftware will often store articles for you but make a decision at the beginning of your research how you will store all the data that you find. Both electronically and in hard copy…….and stick to it.Make use of the notes field! Add the keywords you used to find the article if nothing else. Add where you found it. If you read the article add comments too. It not only keeps all your references in one place and puts them into the required citation style of your school/publisher etc. Some will hold pdfs of the articles as well. The university supported software that is available on all the UoM cluster PCs is EndnoteEndnote is also available for purchase from the university at a special rate for those of you that prefer to work at home.The library offers face-to face training in using Endnote and your faculty should provide access to an online module in using Endnote. Make use of the notes field so it is easy to go back and retrieve articles and create annotated bibliographiesFind, label, record and storeAs well as Endnote there are online bookmarking tools that may be useful depending on the types of things that you want to keep track of. There are a whole host of bookmarking tools that will assist you in keeping track of literature and web sites. Many of these are free to sign up to. Some have been specifically designed to support research like Connotea (Nature) Citeulike (Springer), MenderleyDiigo & ZoteroCiteulike claims to Easily store references you find online Discover new articles and resources Automated article recommendations Share references with your peers Find out who's reading what you're reading Store and search your PDFsOthers began their lives as ‘social’ bookmarking tools Delicious. The benefit of them is 3 fold. You keep your references all together, they are web based so are accessible from anywhere and the application suggests other sites based upon what other individuals have bookmarked. The UoM student portal also offers a simple bookmarking feature.
  • Personal account within a preferred database.Free and easy (though all have different features)Saves searches, saves resultsRuns searches for youSet up a personal account with the discovery tools databases that you use the most. Most database platforms will permit you to save a search and the database will run the search at regular intervals then e-mail you with the results.As the databases are becoming more intuitive they have more features. Some allow you to make notes on individual articles. Ovid lets you stick an electronic post-it to items.Many discovery tools can be set up to run searches on a regular basis on your behalf subsequently e-mailing you with any new results. Some tools will also set up an RSS feed It is important to use RSS feeds to work for you against information overload and not in creating more information for you to sift through.
  • Current awareness services will keep you up to date with what has been published in your field recently.Have the a tool work for you while you do something else. E-mail & RSSRSS is a web feed and is often referred to as Really Simple Syndication though there are other names for it.These can be fed into an aggregator. Something like Igoogle, my yahoo portal?They only take a couple of minutes to set up. They basically let you know that current content has been updated. It is possible to streamline your data and have it all collected in one point. The following short film can really describe them better then myselfZetocThey will not only send you the latest contents page of individual journals, it is also possible to perform a key word search and have results sent to you.Once you have set up an account you will receive tailored information in your particular field.Can be sent via e-mail or by RSS feedDemonstrate Zetoc
  • Avoiding Information Overload

    1. 1. Information OverloadSam Aston, Info Skills Trainer
    2. 2. Control your search Advanced Search PersonalisationReference Management Time Current Awareness Technology Mapping Discovery Tools
    3. 3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeanlouis_zi mmermann/3204425560/
    4. 4. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attributionhttp//:www.flickr.com John-Morgan
    5. 5. Image from http//:www.flickr.com/mightyohm. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution
    6. 6. Image from http//:flickr.com/Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution
    7. 7. Example Search Profile • Topic • Research Question • Aim of the Investigation – Parameters – Time – Place • Languages • Keywords Sam Aston
    8. 8. Image from http//:flickr.com/ Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution
    9. 9. Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/gracewongLicensed under Creative Commons Attribution
    10. 10. Search techniques• Boolean logic – (AND, OR & NOT) (University of Leicester)• AND will link the terms to find only articles that mention both concepts – eg: tobacco AND advertising• OR will broaden the search by looking for synonyms, alternative spellings, abbreviations and plurals – eg: United Nations OR UN• NOT can be used when you need to narrow the search by excluding certain keywords or concepts – eg: industrial action NOT fire service Sam Aston
    11. 11. http://www.flickr.com/photos/afightingfaith/3023604799/ Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution
    12. 12. Licensed under Creative Commons Attributionhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/micaeltattoo/4276384679/
    13. 13. http://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/2778239551/ Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution
    14. 14. Definition of RSSJISC Web2practice• Web2practice RSS film Sam Aston
    15. 15. http://www.flickr.com/photos/n0seblunt/405 1324532/Tell us what you think of the session by filling in the form. Thank you
    16. 16. Keeping up to date with JRUL• Follow us at Twitter: http://twitter.com/jrulresearchers• Blog: http://jrulresearchers.wordpress.com/• E-mail: sam.aston@manchester.ac.uk jrul.researchers@manchester.ac.uk• Tel: 0161 275 3770