It’s Project Management, Stupid!

Okay: So as an educator, I am VERY averse to hearing (much less using) the word stupid:   Of course, the post’s title is a play on James Carville’s famous phrase “[It’s] the economy, stupid.”

It’s a fitting post title, though: Recently I was sitting around and reflecting about ALL the stuff I need to MANAGE as a graduate student. There’s:

  • reference management,
  • knowledge management,
  • resource management,
  • time management,
  • RESEARCHING AFFECT AND COGNITION MANAGEMENT,
  • research skills management,
  • task management,
  • email management (and communication management in general),
  • contact management,
  • PDF storage management,
  • note-taking management,
  • course management,
  • money management . . .

Management! See what I mean? In that moment, I just sat up straight and thought to myself, “It’s project management, ______.” Well, kind of. It was more like I slowly rolled the thought around in my head, “This thesis is not a task! It’s a PROJECT. And I need to manage it. With all the time and task management ‘stuff’ I have, I’m still not quite managing  this project as well as I need to.”

And thus commenced my “during-downtime-only” hunt for project management (PM) software that would nicely accommodate a research-writing project.

Having been spoiled by fluid, online Java apps like Kanbanflow and Workflowy, I just wasn’t feeling Zoho and other similar PM applications. I fiddled lightly with a few PM apps before stumbling upon AceProject and Moovia.

Aside: There may be other, better, fluid-y, research/writing-accommodating PM software apps out there. I haven’t been at liberty to search a lot, as I must prioritize . . . well, research and writing. 😉 But these two apps–Moovia and AceProject–are onto something, I think.

I don’t have much experience with either, so I’ll be brief and leave you to explore and compare them if you are so inclined. I’m near certain I’m going with Moovia because it’s a (private, if you like) FaceBook-like environment that lets writing meet Google Drive meet Kanbanflow meet burndown charts,” and it is FLUUUID! There is one thing: It lacks the start-and-stop timer that AceProject has. If you’re a student scholar that has explored any writing helps tips, you likely know how important using “that kitchen timer” and/or techniques such as the Pomodoro technique are.

About AceProject: Boy, does it give you a lot of leeway to DESIGN. You can skip over all of the features you don’t need, though. I don’t have much to say about AceProject, though I think it’s pretty neat. Too be honest, once I saw Moovia’s fluidity and simple Google Drive integration, I stopped trying to determine whether I desired to place/organize/link/map documents into AceProject, and I just moved on to Moovia.

Moovia is free (and so is AceProject if you don’t want the paid version).

I comment in more detail about my enjoyment of Moovia in this update to an older blog post of mine. Like I said, I haven’t spent much time in it, but at first impression, I’m truly appreciating it! Just the Google Drive integration ALONE renders it awesome. Not a lot of PM software apps that I encountered accommodated online document editing. But with my  Google Drive docs connected to tasks and such and just a click away for editing . . . I’m EASILY going back and forth between thinking, idea jotting, tips jotting, and writing.

Best wishes for your management of all that you manage! I say we pat ourselves on the back. I bet you didn’t even REALIZE how well you’ve BEEN managing. We’re making it, ya’ll!

Aside: My current researcher-writer mottoes, by the way, are manifold (chalk it up to the stage of the game I’m in! ;)). They are:

  • “Lord, give me a spirit of finishing, following through, and closing things OUT!” – Mickey
  • Attitude:
    • “Hear ye, hear ye, obstacles: I’m winning anyway.” – Mickey
    • “Get through it, not by fighting but by accepting and persisting in each moment. Get through it, not with resentment for what you must do but with gratitude for what you can accomplish.” – Ralph Marston
  • Handling academy problems: “Produce a light. And be/stay one. Darkness cannot extinguish light, but light can extinguish darkness. This is about having your light (contribution, spirit) shine in your field & department.” – Mickey
  • Freedom in writing:
    • “Write fearlessly.” – Frank Pajares
    • “Perfection is the voice of the oppressor.” – Anne Lamott
    • “Flow doesn’t come to those who try to express themselves well. Flow comes to those who express themselves freely.” – Barry Michel
    • “A real outline occasions freedom in drafting. (And this works vice versa at times!)” – Mickey

Take care! And blessings!

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Lit Reviewing: Best “How-To” Things I’ve Learned, Best Tools/Forms I’ve Obtained

Greetings!

It’s been awhile, as it is crunch time, academically speaking.

This blog post was easy to create: It is a slight modification of a post I shared at a forum in response to a request for lit reviewing advice. I figured it’s about time I provide an update on the topic now that a bit of time has passed and I’ve learned some new things!

Below are some of the new lit reviewing knowledge, tools, books, advice, links, etc. that I’ve gained in the last few months.

Enjoy!

——————————

There are FOUR seasoned authors who (in their books/works) have explained to me how to navigate the sea of literature and get to the good stuff but not drown in it. I so, so, so wish I had that information at the BEGINNING instead of near the end of my lit reviewing endeavor. Oh, well! Better late then never, I guess?

Author #1: Peg Boyle Single, PhD
The help is located in: her section on how to get in and get out of a source QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY but SUCCESSFULLY . . . in her book Demystifying Dissertation Writing. LORD, how I WISH TO HEAVEN I had been taught this BEFORE I STARTED READING, ANNOTATING, and trying to LEARN/FAMILIARIZE MYSELF WITH the literature.

DemystifingDissertationWriting_BookCover

Author #2: Kristen Luker, PhD
The help is located in: her section on how to POINTEDLY read from the literature, how to learn/figure out what the best stuff (articles and books) is via a process that has the best stuff “rising to the top,” so to speak . . . in her book Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-glut

SalsaDancingIntoTheSocialSciences_BookCover

Authors #3 and #4: Mike Wallace and Alison Wray (I’m 99% sure both are PhD’s)
The help is located: (1) at this website containing amazing tools/samples from the book (see the editable MS Word form/template attached below that you fill out in order to perform a Critical Analysis of a Text) and (2) within their book–especially chapters 8, 9, and 10 and the appendices . . . but the whole, entire book is priceless in my opinion.

CriticalReadingAndWritngforPostGraduates_BookCover

If you are so inclined, take a gander at the reviews for this book, many written by profs. This may help you know whether this book will be useful to you, as well as might checking out the free forms and templates provided at the Sage website for their book. Particularly, looking at their MS Word Critical Analysis Template may help you make that call: It is a free template available at the samples tab of the book’s Sage website.

It is WELL-WORTH a trip to the library to photocopy Single’s and Luker’s advice, techniques, and spelled-out game plan for finding the lit and using the lit without drowning in either process.

Lastly I’ll share the fact that I am so utterly ridiculously happy that I conducted my annotated bibliography (an concise analysis and summary of articles in a collection you’ve “convened”) within the free program Citavi.

No program, in my opinion, is superior to the free pogram Citavi for lit reviewing. ESPECIALLY if you use the keyword function.

I have attached a sequence of screen captures of the REFERENCE tab in Citavi (every source in Citavi has it’s own REFERENCE tab with neat subtabs like Overview, Content, Context, Quotations, Tasks (to do with/regarding this source), etc.

If you look closely at the images that follow, you can glean all the wowser lit reviewy stuff that Citavi enables, such as creating a LINK between two sources and rating that link as (basically) “supportive to each other,” “really supportive of each other,” “refuting each other,” etc.

(If you look closely, you’ll also see a few typos of mine in the screen captures! Don’t look!)

It is very important to note that it is easy to compile and export all this work that you would do in Citavi to an MS Word file, a PDF, and other file types. To print out what I typed in the Evaluation field (where I wrote my analysis and summary for the article or book), I clicked on the blue “Evaluation” link, clicked on the File menu, and selected print. You can print to different file types.

1) Citivi reference OVERVIEW tab:

Citavi_ReferenceTab_OverviewSubtab

2) Citivi reference REFERENCE tab:
Citavi_ReferenceTab_ReferenceSubtab

3) Citivi reference CONTENT tab:

Citavi_ReferenceTab_ContentSubtab

4) Citivi reference CONTEXT tab:

Citavi_ReferenceTab_ContextSubtab

5) Citivi reference QUOTATIONS (and notes) tab:

Citavi_ReferenceTab_QuotationsSubtab

6) Citivi reference TASK & LOCATIONS tab:

Citavi_ReferenceTab_TasksAndLocationsSubtab

Phenomenally nifty, eh, and scholar-tailored, yes? Mmm hmm: I concur!

There’s only so much a fellow STUDENT can really know and help a peer with . . . but I can say that these are the authors/books/tools/knowledge/info/methods/etc. that have best rendered me much more educated and effective about lit reviewing thus far!

QUESTIONS TO YOU!!!:

  • What’s the BEST piece of advice you’ve ever received on how to review the lit? 
  • What’s your lit review process, and what do you like about it?

Well, that brings this blog post to a close. Wishing all student lit reviewers vibes: You can do this!

Mickey

P.S. Aside and SUPER optional: There is a video that helped me (psychologically to understand that it is okay to be POINTED about one’s perusal through the literature: “Writing Your Literature Review: How to Cope with 10,000 Papers You Haven’t Read.” If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, a video explaining how to see the video is there. I think it costs like $5 or something to join the site and access the videos (I can’t remember: It may have been more). I understand why these lecturers charge to access the site: They put a LOT, LOT, LOT of work into it. It’s lifework of theirs.