A few months ago, one of my prof asked us to write about our research workflow: how do we find information? how do we store it? what hardware/software/devices do we use to make the magic happen?
If you’d asked me then, I think I’d have told you that I was good with my process, my tools, and that nothing I learned in class was gonna change that. Because I was, you know, good.
Dude. Dude. How wrong I was.
So here, some three months later, are some of the tools that we were introduced to in that class, tools that I use pretty much every damn day as part of my ongoing (never-ending) research process:
- All My Tweets: This site will pull all of a user’s tweets for you, in reverse chronological order, including (or excluding, your choice) re-tweets and replies. Having the text for all of a user’s tweets on one page makes it easy to search for a keyword. The site also provides a link to each tweet, so you don’t have to scroll through a user’s Twitter feed to find the one you’re looking for.
- Awesome Screenshot: Just what it sounds like. It’ll capture an entire page, a selection, or just the visible part of a screen, and then let you edit the results; you can crop an image, add arrows, etc. Super easy to use, though it can be a little moody in Chrome. For me, it seems to work better in Firefox.
- Zotero: If you’re in grad school, or doing any kind of freelance research, check this program out ASAP. Zotero will free you from worrying about the whims of MLA or APA or freaking Chicago-style citations: it’ll make ’em for you. And it can help you organize PDFs like a mofo. I’m looking forward to field testing this bad boy as I prepare for my comps in the fall.
- Freedom: This is the program that’s saved my productivity. I’m almost embarassed that I need it, but hell, so glad that I found it. What it does is this: it prevents your computer from connecting to the internet for a time period of your choosing, from 15 minutes and up. I have zero willpower when it comes to the internet, so I use this baby to force me to work offline [to write!] in 25 minute increments. It’s helped me stay on task with both my fic and my schoolwork this term and it is just. awesome.
- Savetu.be: Brilliant for downloading web videos and saving them in a variety of formats. Like Awesome Screenshot, it can be a little twitchy in Chrome when you’re trying to save a YouTube video because of the relationship between Google and YouTube. But it’s no big deal. Again, I work around this by flipping to Firefox.
- Twitter: Although I used this as a human, I was dubious about using it as an academic. My Digital Self class forced me (with love!) to give it a shot and it’s turned out to be a generator for both my research and my writing. It’s a space where my interests in rhetoric, porn, and fandom have productively combined.