23: Library as a research tool

Is there more? If you had unlimited resources (time, money and staff) what services would you love the Library to provide for researchers at ACU?

I think that the library provides great services and resources.

With research becoming a bigger part of our uni, we could employ more liasion librarians, maybe with a focus on research rather than a particular school/discipline (they would work together with the school liasions). That way we could have more time to offer for consultations, training and support. This would also mean that those doing interdisciplinary research would have a clear contact person.

This probably opens up a whole can of worms, and I’m not sure how far the inter-library loan program goes beyond Australia, but imagine being able to loan from any international library. Not sure if this is already possible (could one out a special request in to the NLA?) but if a researcher was hunting down an obscure publication that no library in Australia holds, this would be a life saver.


22: On the horizon… what more is out there?

Put on your rose coloured glasses. Is there any tool/trend/*thing* out on the horizon that you would like to share or discuss? If not pick one of the links above and read/reflect/discuss.

I looked at the article: New bio-printing technique makes blood vessels in 3D-printed organs possible.

I think 3D printing is an exciting thing. Being able to manufacture complex objects rapidly and at low cost has so many possibilities, but I had no idea that it was possible to 3D print human organs! I think it will be really interesting to see where this technology takes us in the future.

21: Managing Video and Audio

Some additional tips:

Do a test recording to make sure sound and lighting are ok (ambient noise will come across much louder than it seems, because our brains can block it out).

Use good file management at the editing phase. If you’re making videos that have a combination of different files including audio, images, video clips etc, have a folder for each project to help keep things together. It feels easier at the time to dump things into your “Pictures” “Downloads” folder etc, but it costs more time in the long run hunting for the things when you want to use them.

A Google search for “royalty free music” can find lots of background music. There’s heaps of freely available audio, image and footage out there.

20: Making and Sharing Podcasts and Videos

Share a video or podcast that you has had an impact on you? What made it so?? Have some fun with this- it may be a TED talk or a podcast or someone explaining or demonstrating their research or interests??

I love TED talks on Youtube. One of my favourites is Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive.

I don’t follow any podcasts. I prefer music or reading on my commute or around the house etc. Sometimes I’ll download a one-off if I’m interested in a particular topic or interview. While they don’t appeal to me personally, I do think they’re a great medium, so I tried to find some interesting ones:

Radiolab – very popular, with diverse and interesting topics.

Reply All – podcast about the Internet, but focuses more on human stories than tech.

Circulating Ideas – library related podcast.

19: Screen Capture tools

Most have you have used Captivate. You may want to explore one of the other free tools. Please share your top 5 tips for using a screen capture tool.

I’ve had a go at CamStudio before and found it quite good.

From both watching and making screen capture videos, my top five tips would be:

  1. Have a script (as the “thing” said.) You might not need something to follow word for word – sometimes that can be unnatural. But have something to follow that stops you going off-topic, and makes sure you cover everything.
  2. Be aware of your cursor settings. There are different settings as to whether your cursor appears in the recording or not. For a screen capture video where you’re going to demonstrate something you will probably want it ON, and you can have it appear highlighted too for extra visibility.
  3. Keep it short and to the point. People who are taking the time to watch probably don’t need a long-winded explanation at the start. I get a little frustrated when a video consists of 30+ seconds of talking about nothing, while looking at footage of an unmoving desktop before we get into the real demo. Just jump right in!
  4. Avoid keyboard shortcuts. It feels counter productive if you’re used to using them, but they can’t be seen on screen and it makes your demo go too fast and the viewer can’t tell what you’ve done. Even little things like directing the mouse to File > Save and Clicking on the “search” box instead of pressing enter makes the video much easier to follow. If the task you are showing purposefully includes keyboard actions, you should explain it and edit the footage afterwards to include the keyboard instructions with text on the screen.
  5. Put plenty of expression into your voice. Reading off a script can make this challenging (tip 1). Even though you’re sitting at a computer, you should use your public speaking voice. It’s more interesting and engaging to listen to. Also a little thing I’ve noticed is lots of people (including me) have little quirks and habits of making noises, sighing, drumming their fingers, etc when waiting for a page to load or looking for something on screen. These come across sounding very weird in a recording! Be in control of your voice, movements, breathing etc being mindful you are making a presentation.

18: Text Mining Tools

Explore a tool and blog on it.

I chose to look at Voyant Tools.

I liked the nice simple interface. I had a go at uploading one of my documents. I wasn’t sure what I was meant to get out of things like word frequencies and trends. It told me the most frequent words were “the”, “and”, “of”, “to”, “a” etc, which isn’t that helpful. It didn’t seem to have any stop words. Then again, depending on the type of data, you might not want it to cut out those kinds of words.

I was reminded of AlchemyAPI tool which I came across at uni near the beginning of the year, which attempts to extract index terms of a web page, document, etc. I find it very cool. It looks at more than word frequency – it works out different entities, concepts and keywords of the text, and whether they’re written in a positive or negative sentiment.



17: Visualisation tools

Think about the role of data in your research, and what formats you’re expected to present it in. Will any of these tools be useful?

Data visualisation is important because it makes the information easier to understand. When presenting numbers or statistics we generally put them in a visual chart or graph rather than a table. Graphs can be understood and interpreted instantly. It’s immediately obvious which column is the highest, etc. Reading data in a table requires a bit more interpretation and gives less immediate impact. So visual formats are very helpful for getting your point across.

Interactive graphs add even more impact because it engages the audience. Showing two or more comparative graphs side by side might make a point, but allowing the reader to slide between them themselves is better because they are engaging with the content more, and can see the “movement”.

Some of those tools where you’re using publicly available data, e.g. from the ABS are handy. There are situations where a researcher might use statistics to back up their points, and this is an easy way to do it.