Sunday, October 26, 2008

Insert your head here

Insert Your Head Here

Hello everyone! As you know, I missed the last workshop because I was in Ireland, where the above sculpture was photographed (it's from the campus of the National University of Ireland, Galway).

In my absence, Katie lead a session which included a demonstration by Lorie. I heard it was a good session and look forward to catching up with you all again next meeting.

In the meantime, here are two resources to pass on....

If you're struggling with time management, I've heard raves about Susan at Monsour, who is reportedly excellent at therapeutic time-management butt-kicking. "She's like a life coach!"

And if you're interested in catching a RefWorks workshop:

The following RefWorks workshops have been scheduled for October and November:

Wednesday, October 29, 4 – 6 pm
Thursday, November 6, 6 - 8 pm
Tuesday, November 11, 6 - 8 pm
Friday, November 14, 4 - 6 pm
Wednesday, November 19, 6 - 8 pm

RefWorks is a web-based bibliography management system that allows you to create and manage your own personal database of articles, web pages, and other types of information valuable for your research. In this workshop you will learn the basics of RefWorks for creating your database and importing records. You will also learn how to use the records in your database to format notes and bibliographies in the appropriate style (MLA, APA, etc.) for your papers.

Workshops are held in the Keck Learning Room, Honnold/Mudd Library. If you plan to bring your own laptop rather than use a library computer, be sure that your wireless card has been registered for the CINE network by academic computing on your campus.

To register for one of these workshops, reply to this email or email Gale Burrow ( with a subject line of RefWorks workshop.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


A wonderful piece of information in the mailbag, from Dissertator-On-High, Katie:

Hi scholarly friends,

I went to a presentation yesterday on the libraries' new utility: RefAware.

Basically, it's a way to sign up for regular updates on publications on topics of your choice. For instance, if I want to be made aware of any new publications that deal with Paul's letters in the New Testament in a feminist way, I could set up a search strategy for that, and RefAware would email me daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly--or never, and I justlog in periodically to get my results.

So here's how it works. At, you go to Quicklinks>RefAware. You have to create an account WITH A CLAREMONT COLLEGES DOMAIN in your email address. So not your Gmail account, e.g. Those of you at other institutions, see if you can access it, too! Then you create a "search strategy" you can give it a name, define the discipline(s) that you want to hear from, and give source criteria. The search is boolean, so you can do "ands" and "nots". NOTE that each line is logically separated by an OR, not an AND. So if I had a search strategy for the topic I suggested above, line one might be "Paul and Bible". (I don't want articles about any old Paul!) The next line might be "Paul and New Testament", since maybe not all the articles will say "Bible", but they might say "New Testament." Does that make sense?

You can also set up a search strategy for an author you want to keep track of. And you can make multiple strategies, obviously. You can check to see if any given publication/periodical is listed, as well. Sounds like the database is just growing and growing.

So I hope this might be helpful for you. I periodically wonder if my own work is still relevant and worry that someone else has come up with my ideas, too. This should put those concerns to rest, and keep me educated in my field, as well.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Kinda Speaks For Itself...

Click above to enlarge, read, and mock at will.

Archrival Archivals

In the last session, Bryan did a "show 'n tell" about his recent trip to Princeton to look at some archives for his research.

Some special collections / archives allow you to bring in only some paper and a pencil, some allow hand scanners - the one Bryan went to allowed hand-held digital cameras (no flash). After several days of perfecting his Hunchback of Notre Dame impersonation, Bryan came away from his trip with thousands of image files...and no clear way of organizing them.

So he started off organizing the pictures by creating files for each day he was at the archive: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc. Because there were lots of little thumbnail pictures, it was still difficult to see what was what.

We discussed a few options - printing out the pictures in greyscale, taking them to a printer, transferring them to PDFs (print first, then scan), using ZoomIt to allow for the capacity to write notes on the images. Of course, it all depends on what you need your materials for and what kind of access you want.

Bryan ended up creating an Excel sheet with columns that he filled in as he went through and read and cataloged each image. He created 7 columns at the top of the sheet, labeled:

- Photo No. (ex. DSCN9906.JSP)
- Title / What It Is (ex. Letter to John Smith)
- Box # (for later citation purposes)
- Folder (where he's keeping it in his computer)
- Description (brief description of what that document contains)

Lorie recommended FreeMind, an open source program to help you map out your ideas and keep track of their connections. She said Bryan could use it to keep track of documents and create links that would immediately take him to the originals he wanted.

Cataloging all of the pictures will take Bryan quite some time, however, once he is completed, it will be an incredibly valuable resource not only to his own scholarship, but perhaps even to the host institution where he found the archive.

The one piece of advice everyone gave Bryan: back everything up! All of it! Print it out, use an off-site backup service, get an external hard drive, whatever - save, save, save. Which is excellent advice for all of us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DIY Dissertating

In the recent workshop, Lorie mentioned the Association for Information Systems Ph.D. page.

It's worth a gander, particularly "Answers to Doctoral Students' Frequently Asked Questions," "10 Mistakes Doctoral Students Make in Managing Their Program," and "How Am I Doing? Checklist for Doctoral Students at Various Stages of Their Program."

Thanks for the tip, Lorie!

Lynda recommends Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day as good "meditations before you go to bed" reading.

And Paula has many tips about using local photocopy / Kinkos centers' services wisely. For example, if you have printed out reams of dissertations and need them hole-punched, its easy to drop them off at a copy center and have them do it for you (unless you like the catharsis of whacking away on a 3-hole-puncher...and come on, we've all been there).

Bennett said, "I make a deal with myself to take a break every month" as a way to reward himself for his dissertating - and as one month's break, became a certified teacher of raw food instructor.

The group's procrastination efforts in the past week have included surfing, knitting a scarf, baking bread, and watching all three hours of The Godfather. We're a crafty bunch of procrastinators, indeed.

Aya's defending her proposal this week - wish her well!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ABD on your tombstone

Quotes from recent workshops:

"I'm afraid when I die, I'll have ABD on my tombstone."

"For the first time since I've been in the program, it really feels like I can do this."

"One of my committee members used to be an emergency room nurse. She's used to triage!"

"I don't expect the yellow brick road. This is much more like hazing. I'm a former athlete...preseason conditioning is going to be a bitch, no matter what!"

"What do you call a doctoral student who graduates at the bottom of their class?"

You're the WorldCat's Pajamas

During our next workshop meeting, Brian will be giving a "show and tell" about research he conducted at special collections in Princeton in July. They allowed him to take a camera into the room!

While we're on the subject of special collections, there's a good possibility that you'll need to travel to a library and peruse special archives in your own research.

So...where do you start?

Well, if you need to find out where your primary documents are held (for example, original documents / texts / letters from a specific author) you can use WorldCat. This collects all of the library catalogs of the world together in one neat place.

2. Go to the middle column and select "most used databases."

3. Scroll down to "WorldCat."

4. Type in your search terms.

5. Select the box that says "Archival Materials."

6. There you are! You'll get a list of what collections are out there along with websites and info. If you're lucky, your documents will be held in a city you've really wanted to visit.

The ILLiad and the Odyssey

Starting this fall, the library began using a software program called ILLiad to process all interlibrary loans. You have to register an account with the library to use the interlibrary loan service (ILL).

This can be your last resort if the library doesn't have the book you want and LINK+ doesn't have it.

The librarians recommend that you set up your ILL account now, even if you don't need it just yet. That way, when the time comes, you're golden.

Be kind to librarians

Today I went to Honnold Mudd and had a chat with Meg Garrett, one of my favorite librarians (and a science fiction guru). If you haven't already befriended a local librarian, I highly recommend stopping by. They know everything.

Here's a list of the librarians at Honnold and their specialities.

If you live far from campus, they have a great service called Librarian Chat, which is a real-time instant messager that allows you to ask librarians questions. I've used it several times and have been really happy with the level of service it offers.

Finding Dissertations on Your Topic and Printing Them at ACB

Just for you! Clear instructions for how to get to the Dissertations database off of the Honnold website. You may want to print these out or minimize this window and use it for reference.

1. Start at the Libraries home page.

2. Click on the link that says "Databases" in the middle column.

3. Under "By type & format" you'll see "Dissertations." Click on that. This brings you to the page "Databases: Dissertations."

4. Click on "Dissertations & Theses."

5. Now you'll be sent to a page that says "ProQuest" in the left hand corner. (To skip steps 1-4, you could also just use this link: Jump straight to ProQuest page). Here, you can type in keywords for your topic under "Basic Search" and you're ready to go!

6. Next, you go to the "results" page. You have several options: You can read the Abstract, Preview, get the Full Text PDF, or Order a Copy.

What's really great about this is that you can get that PDF (for most dissertations after 1995), download it to your desktop, and print it out! If the dissertation you want is before 1995 and doesn't have a PDF available, you'll have to buy it (Order a Copy).

Let's say you're lucky - there's a PDF of it. But if you're like me, you need a hard copy...none of this fancy interweb stuff for you! You like to get your hands on cold, hard, paper. But this involves printing out 200 pages and your ink cartridge at home costs $30 a pop.

This is where ACB comes in handy. The Academic Computing Building (ACB) is the building between the Blaisdell fountain and the parking lot on 8th street. On the first floor is ACB is room 111, the computer lab. Each CGU student gets something like $30 of free printing a semester. So this is cheaper than you printing 300 page dissertations at home.

The downside is that printing large things in ACB is sort of a pain in the ass. The printer is shared, so your stuff can get mixed with other people's stuff, and it's finicky - it doesn't let you do jobs of over 100 pages at once, so you need to send it in smaller chunks.

Here's what you do:

1. Download the PDF you want.

2. Right click on the PDF for "print." Print in small batches. For example, 1-99, 100-199, 200-299, etc. Remember that the page numbers you type in won't necessarily correspond to the page numbers on the dissertation.

3. After you send it to print, a blue popup box will show in the center of your screen. It will tell you your current balance and how much your print job will cost.

For example, mine says: "You are printing 49 pages at a cost of $2.49"

4. You HAVE to hit "print" in that box for the doc to print. Sometimes, the box doesn't appear where you can see it, and you have to click on the pop-up balloon at the bottom toolbar, or close your applications, to see the box behind everything else.

5. If your thing doesn't print, first check for all those popup boxes and make sure you have enough money in your account to print the pages you sent. If that doesn't work, try logging off the computer. Sometimes that will make it print. If that doesn't work, check the printer - it may be out of paper. If none of that works, go bug the lab attendant.

6. When your account runs out of money, you just take cash up to the lab attendant and they'll add it to your account.

P.S. Remember, this is the chain for finding PDFs of dissertations that you want. Weirdly enough, you can find dissertations listed in other databases (such as the MLA database) that don't give you the PDF option, even though it is available - so you wouldn't know you could do this! So any time you see a diss you want, go through these steps to find out if you can get the PDF.

P.P.S. If you have to write an abstract for your dissertation and want some samples to look at, this is another source that's helpful.

You're Not Alone - Here are some of the members of our group!