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Managing information

Managing information effectively by using appropriate tools, applications and software efficiently is a vital skill for any researcher who is challenging with information overload and "data deluge" today.

Managing your research

What is data management planning?

Data management includes all activities associated with data other than the direct use of the data. It may include:

  • data organisation
  • backups
  • archiving data for long-term preservation
  • data sharing or publishing
  • ensuring security of confidential data and
  • data synchronisation

Why do I need a data management plan?

Typically data management is done at the last minute and using the first method that comes to mind. This approach is usually time-consuming and error-prone.

Taking time at the start of a research project to put in place robust, easy-to-use data management procedures will usually pay off several times over in the later stages of the project. To sum up: improvements to efficiency, protection, quality & exposure.

Basic data management is required by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Compliance with the Code is already a requirement for ARC (The Australian Research Council) and NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) funding and is likely to be mandated by other funding bodies, government and institutions in the near future.

Inadequate data management can also lead to catastrophes like the loss of data or the violation of people's privacy.

Good practice in data management

Research Data MANTRA is an Open Educational Resource from the University of Edinburgh, providing a free online course in research data management, designed for PhD students and others who are planning a research project using digital data.

DMPonline has been developed by the Digital Curation Centre to help you write data management plans.

Web resources

Data Management Manual
(ANU, 2011)
Highlights key aspects of data management and writing a plan

Data Management Planning
(QUT, 2010)
Guidelines for management of research data.

Data Management Planning
(Monash Uni., 2009)
Includes a draft checklist for HDR students

Data Management Plans
(DCC, n.d.)
Links to various resources, including an online tool

Preparing your thesis

When preparing your thesis for examination, it may take one of three forms:

  • typescript (a traditional thesis)
  • creative or literary work or series of works accompanied by an exegesis
  • published book or series of published papers, accompanied by an introduction, literature review and other supporting material

Finding Theses

Reading completed theses provide an important source for identifying current research in the area. They also provide insight into current research activities and strengths at an institution, which may be valuable when deciding where to study.

Theses can be found in Open Access Repositories, and most library catalogues. A good source of Australian material can be found at NLA Catalogue, TROVE.

eBooks

Web resources

What are alerting services?

Many databases  offer an alerting service which allows the user to keep up to date with new research in a particular field of study. When you register for such a service, you will receive the alerts via email straight to your inbox or via an RSS feed.

RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication” is a family of formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds, journal alerts or podcasts. With an RSS reader (or aggregator) you can subscribe to many feeds and read the new entries all in one place, without having to visit individual Web sites to find them and without cluttering your inbox.

Many publishers are using RSS feeds to provide an alerting service to advise on new information as it becomes available. Three types of journal alert are available:

  • Table of Contents (TOC) alerts – these provide a list of articles from forthcoming issues of a particular journal;
  • Keyword search alert – an alert is generated for all new articles matching a string of keywords; &
  • Citation alert – an alert is generated whenever a nominated article is cited by another author

Examples of our databases that provide this service include EbscoHostProquest Public Health and PubMed.

There are many ways to stay up-to-date with new journal publications:

  • Table of Contents Alerts send you the table of contents each time a new issue of a journal is published
  • Search Alerts service notify you when new articles occur that match a search you have saved.
  • Citation Alerts notify you when new publications cite a particular work.
  • Author Alerts update you when a particular author has a new publication.

JournalTOCs is a free service for journal tables of contents (TOCs) alerts from  over 2000 publishers. Simply create an account and select the journals for which you want to receive alerts.

Google Scholar alerts: Set up your search preferences to be regularly alerted by email.

Popular research blogs

Communication channels to help you stay up to date with scholarly communication resources and methods.

Twitter - a great way to connect

@researchinfo - Research Information magazine/website Twitter feed 

@RetractionWatch - Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process. Sign up for our daily newsletter: http://

@PhDForum - A Facebook & Twitter group to share success and support with others in #HESisterfeeds: 

@andsdata - The Australian National Data Service makes Australian research data more valuable by managing, connecting, enabling discovery and supporting reuse

@ResourcefulHDR - HDR Professional Skills Program Manager, Macquarie Uni.HDR Professional skills, careers, employability, networking and higher ed.

@researchwhisper - The Research Whisperer shepherds you through the arcane world of academic research, funding, + building that track-record

@arc_gov_au - The ARC provides research advice to Government, administers the National Competitive Grants Programme and Excellence in Research for Australia

@nhmrc - National Health and Medical Research Council: Australia's peak body for health and medical research, evidence-based health guidelines, and health ethics.

@HERDJournal - The international peer review journal of the Higher Education Research and Development Society Australasia (HERDSA)

Mendeley

Referencing manager that is simple to use and easy to download and install. Compatible with Windows, Mac, LibreOffice and BibTeX.  Its popular features include

  • Reading PDFs and capturing thought through sticky notes and highlights, import and organise PDFs from your computer, EndNote, Papers or Zotero
  • Collaboration with colleagues and securely share information
  • Access your papers on the web, iPhones or iPads.
  • Networking and discover people and or groups

Read more about: Features of Mendeley

Zotero

Tool designed to help researchers and students easily collect, organise, cite and share research sources. Its popular features include:

  • Storing any format, from PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages and almost everything can be stored on a single searchable interface.
  • Organising research items onto any number of named collections and sub-collections
  • Tagging users’ library contents using own keywords.
  • Creating citation in MSWord and OpenOffice and add references to e mail, Google doc or any other editor by easily dragging the reference into it.
  • Create and join research groups basing on interested topics and subjects and share with each group its own library such as files, references, notes etc.

Read further about: Zotero

NVivo

Is available to Torrens University Australia staff and Students (please contact Library Support for a login) and is platform for researchers, evaluators, policy advisors, social workers, educators and students to analysing all forms of unstructured data. NVivo interrogate data using powerful search query and visualisation tools to get into the detail. Rigorously justify findings and  share the work. Popular features  include:

  • Spend more time on analysis rather than administrative tasks
  • Works systematically and make sure no data is lost
  • Rigorously justify findings with evidence
  • Manage all materials in one project file
  • Enable to work with material in multi-languages
  • Easy to share the work with others

Learn more:

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Using the cloud

Useful onling cloud-based tools for file storage, organising your research and improving your productivity

Dropbox - free and personal document storage account. Access your files from any computer. Five Dropbox tips and tricks

Google Drive - needs a personal Gmail account to begin

figshare  - a repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, sharable and discoverable manner

Evernote is a free cloud productivity tool and a digital notebook for storing various types of contents, with syncing and access across devices.