23 Things: Organisational tools for research

There are a number of things that we’ve looked into this week, from crowdsourcing and discussion tools to scheduling and sharing files.

Crowdsourcing is not something I’ve used myself, but I can definitely see the benefits. Talking to other people and sharing ideas is the best way to build up knowledge, so getting contributions from others via a platform like this could potentially be incredibly helpful and accomplish a lot in a variety of disciplines.

In terms of using online tools for communication, Skype is something that I’ve used both personally and in an academic sense. Don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous as when I sat in comfy jeans and a smart blazer on top for a Skype interview! This enabled a communication that would otherwise have been impossible to due time and location constraints. Google+ Hangouts and Webinar etc can also be used, but I’m not so familiar with them. Recording and using video in meetings can also be very useful. As an undergrad, recorded lectures were a lifesaver during revision. For future use, the ability to live stream a meeting of use video chat could be very useful. I have six supervisors for my EngD project so getting them all in one place can be quite a challenge! Being able to communicate with them and keep them updated on my work is really important.

Following on from that, trying to organise meetings with multiple busy people is challenging, so tools like Doodle polls can be useful as ways to gain everyone’s availability. Scheduling meetings and linking this to a calendar such as on Outlook seems to be a quick and easy way to ensure that everyone knows what’s going on and that they won’t forget if it gets swept into another pile of emails at a later date!

Lastly, sharing my work plans and data with supervisors and my industrial team is important to let them know what I’ve been doing and provide an opportunity to get feedback and input from them. Dropbox and Google drive can both be used for this. On a more personal level, these have also been really useful for saving files of photographs online and a massive folder of my graduation pictures currently sit in Dropbox so that all my friends can see them too!

As I’m currently thinking about my first 6 month progress report for my EngD project, sharing files and communicating with my supervisors is becoming increasingly important. Tools like the above are definitely something I’ll continue to use to keep organise and for professional development.

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