Research Sites and Improved Workflow

It’s Friday and it seems like my last few posts have been quite serious (complete with references even) so today I’m just going to mention a few Web sites that are useful for doing research on doing research, and mention an interesting research workflow.

The first site I want to call attention to is MacResearch. If you are doing research and you use a Mac you need to check out this site. It includes reviews of research oriented products, as well as a forum, script repository, tutorials, and news. It was this site where I found DevonThink and DevonAgent, two very useful research tools. I also discovered BibDesk there, although I was already using JabRef so that hasn’t been as big an impact as DevonThink. There are several articles on software for electronic research notebooks that I highly recommend if you are trying to get your research organized.

The other site you should check out if you are doing any kind of online literature review is ResearchBuzz. ResearchBuzz is pretty much what it says it is “News about search engines, databases, and other information collections.” The author of the site is Tara Calishain who also authored several books on searching including Google Hacks and more recently Information Trapping: Real-Time Research on the Web, which is on my current reading list. I think this site stands fairly well on it’s own, but reading any of Tara’s books adds value.

Finally, if you start reading Information Trapping and take a look at the combination of DevonThink and DevonAgent you should get a feel for a new workflow for doing online research. This probably isn’t new too everybody, but it was new to me last week. I’m fairly certain that this combination of technique and technology will change the way I do literature reviews. Though I’ll still be doing a lot of reading at least the management of the process can be streamlined. Basically, the idea is to allow DevonAgent to search for information, and import it into DevonThink where it is quite easy to sort through it all – separating the wheat from the chaff. DevonAgent can be setup to remember what it has already seen, and run at a scheduled time. So you effectively end up with a research inbox, where all the latest search hits are stored and await processing. Oh, and since DevonThink includes a little AI it turns out that the more information you add the better the program gets at automatically classifying it. You must check it out!

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