Monday, February 16, 2009

Manage Information Manage your Career

Since my last presentation in January for a group of DNP students about how to use My NCBI to manage information, I had several individual literature searching consultation sessions with nursing PhD students. There is no doubt, all students are keen to learn how to conduct an effective literature search using scholarly resources. Set aside literature searches, one thing struck me the most was how to organize information once they were retrieved from either Internet sites or databases. It is like a product assembly-line process. The product won't be a finished product until you carry it out through to the finish line. Again I feel strongly for my saying managing information, managing your career. The ability and knowledge of managing information is critical in conducting research and even leading to career success.

Based on my own experience on using social bookmarking sites to organize information, I found the following sites serve me well for different purposes. I hope my experience can be of help in making decisions. There are many good tools out there that you might find them useful, too. So many choices! What to choose? The key is to get start seriously and devote some time getting to know the tools and stick to those met your needs.
  • -- Collect general Web sites or Internet resources. It is a generic social bookmarking site that can bookmark almost everything from the Internet. I use this site to bookmark my favorite sites. Descriptions can be added to each bookmark.
  • 2collab -- Manage journal articles especially those from Science Direct and Scopus. Unique features include pre-assigned research fields providing a way to browse and organize bookmarks in a broader subject than an individual tag, the ability to select bookmarks to create a new list, and the ability to create RSS feeds for any list filtered by groups or research fields. I use this site to collect journal articles and assign them to different groups. I also use this site to keep track of my published articles.
  • CiteUlike -- Manage journal articles. Unique features include the capability of uploading PDF files associate with the bookmarks so that they can be accessed from any computers. I use this site to collect and store PDF articles for future reading or for group projects. Another feature I like about CiteUlike is the article reviews written by site users. You can also write reviews about an article and share with others.
Other tools I use to organize information are services directly from database publishers.
  • My NCBI -- Organize references, create folders, and save searches while searching PubMed/Medline. My NCBI does several things for me: set up automatically email alerts or subscribe to RSS Feeds on topics I need to get updates on a regular basis, collect references and group them into topics and folders, save PubMed searches, and create my bibliographies.
  • My EBSCOhost -- Manage references, create collections, and save searches while searching CINAHL@EBSCOhost. I use My EBSCOhost to save CINAHL searches and assign references into different folders. I can also share the folders with my peers. My EBSCOhost is especially helpful when I can't use social bookmarking sites to bookmark an EBSCOhost article due to access issues.
Here came another question: "I have collected my references in several places. How am I going to pull them into one central location for my paper?" The solution is to log in each of these sites and export your references to reference manage software like EndNote and RefWorks.

I always believe finding the right tools to mange information can save time and boost productivity.

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