Academic Lifehacker

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Tools and ideas to improve academic efficiency

The Carnival of GRADual Progress

Working on thesis
Photo by: OldMainstream

The Carnival of GRADual Progress is a monthly roundup of blog posts of interest to grad students. Hosted at a different academic blog every month, the posts range from helpful to simply hilarious.

There are six carnivals so far:
1st Carnival
2nd Carnival
3rd Carnival
4th Carnival
5th Carnival
6th Carnival

Warning: to be approached with extreme caution. Definite time-sucker.

Filed under: Academia, Advice, Computer, Grad School, Motivation, Online, Reading, Research, Thesis, Time Management, Web, Writing

Learn how to get up early

Getting up with the sun
Photo by: idreamofdaylight

When the sky is dark, the days are short, and it’s cold outside, I lack the motivation to get up out of my nice warm bed. In an attempt to get more out of my day, I’ve tracked down some good advice from fellow bloggers:

Waking up early and consistently
[ from Dave Cheong ]

Surefire Way to Wake Up Without the Snooze
[ from Glen Stansberry at LifeDev ]

How I trained myself to get up earlier in the morning
[ from Matthew Stibbe at Bad Language ]

Filed under: Advice, Motivation, Organization, Sleep, Time Management

LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)

LibriVox

Librivox offers free public domain audiobooks, available for download in MP3 or OGG format. This collaborative project boasts an impressive selection of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and drama. Good for the commute– you can download one of those classics that you always meant to get around to read.

If you’re looking for a bit of early-morning cheer on a chilly winter morning, I’d recommend My Man Jeeves or Right Ho, Jeeves, both by P. G. Wodehouse. If you’re feeling slightly more ambitious, there’s always The Canterbury Tales (War and Peace is still in progress).

Filed under: Books, Computer, Online, Reading, Web

Papers (PDF organizer, Mac only)

Papers

Yet another Mac-only app for academics…

Papers is now available in public preview. It has a really lovely user interface (reminiscient of iTunes) and previewing and note-taking ability built right into the program. It was built to house scientific papers and import straight from PubMed.

[ found via announcement at The Efficient Academic ]

Filed under: Academia, Bibliographies, Bibliography, Computer, Files, Mac, Organization, Research, Tools

Windows alternatives for DEVONthink

Many academics who use Macs swear by DEVONthink for organizing their research and files. Over at AcademHack, there’s even an entire category devoted to academic uses for the program.

I was intrigued by the organizational abilities of this program, and mourned my Mac-lessness. However, there are some alternatives for us with PCs. I’ve listed a few of the most promising DEVONthink replacements by price:

EverNote (free)
MyInfo (free 28-day trial, then $50)
AskSam (free 30-day trial, then $150 and up)
Nota Bene (free 30-day trial, then $249 and up)

Any other ideas for DEVONthink alternatives for Windows?

Addendum: This seems to be a current topic! I just discovered this thread over at The Efficient Academic group, which may also lead to some good suggestions.

Filed under: Computer, Files, Mac, Organization, Research, Software, Tools, Windows

Guide to online file storage/backup services

Obviously, no one on earth wants to lose their data. But to an academic, a hard-drive meltdown can be particularly horrific. Imagine, years of original research, gone. Just gone.

Luckily, there are plenty of online backup services to help stop this from happening. I’m a big fan of Mozy myself, but there are tons of choices. Ninety plus (on this particular list), in fact.

Enjoy– and save soon, save often!

Introduction to 90 Online File Storage Services
[ from LifeHack.org ]

Filed under: Computer, Files, Online, Research, Web

Make eBooks for your iPod

Via this web application, you can convert both text files and websites into notes readable on your iPod.

This might be a clever idea. Or it might be a very speedy way to make yourself go blind.

Create ebooks on your iPod
[ via Lifehacker ]

Filed under: Books, Computer, Files, Online, Reading, Tools, Web

Love and admiration in academic tasks

As academics, we can often get stuck working on projects that we care little about. No different than non-academic jobs– except that, somehow, there is a larger expectation that we do care about what we’re working on. We’re not supposed to be monkeys working for the man– we’re supposed to be intellectual monks in a modern world, feverishly pursuing further knowledge. Okay, maybe not monks, but you get the idea.

Yet we do get stuck doing projects that we care little about– or occasionally heartily despise. A few of these projects won’t hurt you; maybe they’ll even build a little character, who knows? But consistently working on projects that we loathe, or see little point in, isn’t good for our happiness, mind, or motivation.

Dave Cheong has an excellent post about choosing things that you love doing and admire. His emphasis is on the second part of this equation.

He says, “Why do you have to admire what you do or the people doing it? If you only love what you do (and not admire it), then you may end up doing the wrong thing… If there is nothing to admire, why change? What’s the incentive to become better?”

Do something you love doing and admire
[ from Dave Cheong ]

Filed under: Academia, Advice, Grad School, Motivation

Overcoming Academic Writer’s Block

I admit, reading Metafilter discussions is an excellent way to procrastinate doing actual academic work. However, this particular thread might actually have some productivity payoff for anyone struggling with a big project (thesis, book, etc).

Academic writer’s block: tips, strategies, experiences?
[ from Ask Metafilter ]

Filed under: Advice, Grad School, Motivation, Research, Thesis, Writing

Top ten longest titles of research papers

And now for something completely different…

Top ten longest titles of research papers
[ from Trevor’s Bike Shed ]

Filed under: Academia, Humour, Research, Thesis, Web, Writing