Two to three years ago I was exploring academic writing software such as Qiqqa and Docear. Since then, their developers have made impressive improvements and additions to them, and there’s been a FLOOD of new academic software into the mix. I’ve somewhat had my nose to the grindstone and have missed some of the new software, such as PaperPile. In light of these recent changes, I have decided to maintain a record of my latest estimation of the best personal academic writing workflow that would work for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to make tweaks now: I’m submitting soon and want to focus there. As has been said by many folks, everyone’s BEST academic writing workflow will necessarily be very individual, to accommodate preferences and needs. For instance, I can’t handle wondering about whether everything that was supposed to be cited has a citation, and whether every citation has an entry in my works cited. Therefore I don’t anticipate removing Citavi from my workflow ANY time soon. Citavi gives me great clarity and confidence in that area. Others trial Citavi and am glad I like it but keep EndNote (or their reference manager of choice). But ask them to let go off Scrivener, and you might have a fight on your hands!
The Process of My Decision Making
Instead of aiming to have the lowest possible number of apps in my workflow, I aimed for
- Sustainability: Will this product remain available for a while and are any costs affordable?
- Program and work data stability and data protection
- Psychology and nature of academic writing
- And utility: Is what I do or make with this program actually important for my writing? After controlling for sustainability and stability factors, does this program do/enable this thing I need in the way best for me? And . . . OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE: Can I move or use what I produce or do in this program out to the next place it needs to be to ultimately result in finished, not-too-hard-to-then-format, sharable writing?
In the end, there’s much overlap among the programs I included (every developer is trying to be comprehensive), not every program is “perfect” (whatever that means!), but what each program does well can be accomplished with no other software (or not well) and helps me finish up writing.
A key take-away I had from completing this exercise was to understand the overlap among academic programs I use and to NOT do double work: Choose which program does the overlapped task best, and work efficiently by using THAT program ONLY for the task.
Here are my preliminary thoughts, then, captured on a PDF and prioritizing what might enable me to write best and most “safely.” Please click on the following link to enlarge the PDF (which contains hyperlinks to the software mentioned in the workflow diagram). The “scary” thought I’m having right now is that if Qiqqa developers were to add the functions of outlining, quote-attaching to outlines, and citation-attaching to quotes, I’d be all messed up! (What to do then, what to do then, what to do, then!) It’s crazy. That’s why I’m taking a step back and just writing down my thoughts on tweaks and keeping with what I’ve got that’s working for me. PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of January 10, 2014 UPDATE: Now that I’m sitting down to draft, I’m remembering Idea Mason as an amazing outline, sketch-write, and zeroeth draft environment. I have to add it to the mix!: PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of April 16, 2014
There’s just too much out there now! I feel it’s good and it’s not. On the one hand, you can spend a lot of time doing work and putting resources into a program that makes it hard to then use the work and resources.So you’d better trial software and plan and choose carefully. On the other hand, there can be no end to exploring these apps and thinking through workflow. Rule I’m imposing on myself: If the workflow you’ve got is working, there needs to be a mighty good reason to make tweaks. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. How often do you tweak your workflow? What would you hate to do without in your workflow? Is there too much of all this “stuff” out there now, such that it’s getting confusing? Or is all this influx of choice good? Click the bubble to comment! 🙂 Take care! Mickey