Working Well To Get Things Done: The documentation manual at this site is a strange . . . find! WELL worth a read even if you ignore the expensive product, IMO.


The above link (to a subpage of a product’s documentation manual) is surprisingly one of the most educational sites I’ve read about this topic since . . . EVER, personally. How random and strange: It was an off-topic item that showed up in my google search for something else entirely.In my opinion, the site’s content is really, really worth a read if you want to evaluate or think a little more deeply about how you operate to stay on a path you want and how you get things done. Goes from discussing the mechanism of having valued goals all the way down to the details of how to design and work through the process a goal requires. Insightfully, insightfully done, IMO.Here’s a link to the documentation manual’s home page: NOTE: I was tempted to skip over reading the Table of Contents item 2 (on how the product works), but it’s really insightful in general about this topic.

Anyway, I’ve done pretty well at resisting posting (I’m on a hiatus from too much blogging so that I can concentrate on finishing my thesis), but I truly felt that this information is so germane to the MA, MS, PhD, etc. journey and I’m getting an education from the material! So strange.  (It’s a product documentation manual)! Somewhat of a hard link to “sit on” if it will help anyone.  But I’ve done well and “sat on” many others, such as this one…hd-research-2/   The author has some downloads at her own web site that are PHENOMENAL, though. (Really. 🙂 )

Do you have insightful resources to share about self leadership, how to operate to get things done, etc.?
Alright! Blessings, all. Be encouraged, journeyers (smile). Back to hiatus I go. 

Developing an Addiction to Academic Writing via S.M.A.R.T. Pomodoro Tomato Squashing Challenges? Hmm!


I just submitted 105 pages and received the comment “excellent scholarship.” Yay!


Before diving back into thesising, I thought I’d take 15 minutes to come here to WordPress, choose one of the draft blog posts that I never published, edit it, and publish it.

Below are the results of that endeavor. I hope it inspires reflection or helps in some way.

Also, I wanted to leave a message of encouragement that someone from an online forum shared with me to help you know that you can do whatever research/writing task that is before you (click on the image to enlarge it, for better viewing, in a new browser window):


Please enjoy the blog post below!




Post Content

A few months ago I realized something about my work habits: Instead of instigating writing addiction (see Bolker), in contrast the way I was working was instigating/reinforcing writing aversion. Well, on second thought perhaps that wording is inaccurate: If this makes any sense, It’s prewriting and revising that I was averse to, and not writing per se.

Anyhoo 😉 . . . I had an epiphany one day about a likely, contributing explanation for why I was inadvertently hurting myself with my own work habits with the result of fostering writing aversion within myself: I’d been doing pomodoros (wisely, I felt, because it’s physically and mentally healthier than just working hour after hour after hour, and it gives you sometimes much-needed, true feedback about your rate of progress or lack thereof). However, I realized, I hadn’t been doing smart pomodoros, as in, literally, S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros.

Pomodoro technique + S.M.A.R.T. task methodology. That should work and be good, right?!??

The “T” (Time-bound) and the “A” (Attainable)

Here were my initial thoughts on blending the pomodoro technique with the S.M.A.R.T. task methodology: What if you let the “T” in the S.M.A.R.T. methodology be 25 minutes (since it’s a pomodoro task and pomodoros are typically 25-minutes in length). And for the “A” in S.M.A.R.T.: what if you were to break down all of your larger goals into specific tasks such that every task you list could be completed in 25 minutes? You could maybe even challenge yourself by attempting 35 minutes worth of work per pomodoro: If you did THAT, perhaps then you  would create inspiring challenges and create the experiencing of victory all along the way (instead of that constant “I’m-still-not-done-yet-with-my-big-overarching-goal” sensation of dread). On top of that, another benefit to this is that you would more reside in a state of (psychological) flow during writing, as discussed incredibly helpfully in the “How To Stay Focused and Get Things Done” video presentation. For me, that would be HUGE: Experiencing flow while writing would be SO MUCH OF AN IMPROVEMENT over writing in such a way as to instigate/reinforce prewriting and revising aversion.

So much for the “T” and “A.” I spent a few more moments thinking this through–what a S.M.A.R.T. pomodoro technique might look like. Then I gave it a go. Below are my reflections.

The “R” (Relevant), the “M” (Measurable), and the “S” (Specific)

It turns out that the “R” and “M” in S.M.A.R.T.-goal setting are really important. For me, “R” (relevant) would mean that a task is very clearly a strong link in the chain of getting me done with the writing. “M” and “S” would mean that I list the DELIVERABLE along with the quite specific description of the task. A deliverable could be an outline, a sketch (i.e., a writing sketch of a paragraph), a paragraph in a revised state . . . what have you. But there needs to be some REAL, TANGIBLE measure indicating success. It can’t just be “I focused the whole time during the pomodoro tomato.” Focus is good. Focus + result is better. All this to say that I planned to measure my progress by whether a  tomato yielded a highly relevant (useful and germane for my project) deliverable (something concrete) each 25 minutes.

Trial Run #1

I tested this out. 🙂

First I did a little investigation during which I discovered that in my list of pomodoro tasks, each task was huge! HUMONGOUS! I wasn’t completely doing this on purpose: I really thought I could get many of those tasks done in, like, 4 pomodoro tomatoes (i.e. 2 hours). But I was underestimating many of these. And that was adding to the sense of dread, I realized upon reflection: Always being WAY OVER your number of previsioned pomodoro techniques can really start to consciously or subconsciously feel bad–even if it was a setup to begin with and you’re the author of it all!

Oh, boy: Every task in the list was at least a 5-tomato task or 6-tomato task and most often a 10-tomato task, not including interruptions and errors. My goodness!

The way I was configuring my pomodoro tasks and task list in Orkanizer, it would take a loooooong time for me to EVER feel a sense of getting anything done. That can get demoralizing and become a downer REAL FAST when doing the isolating work that thesising often can be.

So I changed things: I broke my tasks down into subtasks that could be done in 1 pomodoro tomato, “for reals” as my students would say. In that way, every 30 minutes instead of thinking . . .

“I’m stiiiiiiiiiiillllllll working at the task of ____. I haven’t achieved it yet, O. M. G., and it’s been so-and-so many hours of work. O. M. G! I’m so ______ (fill int the blank.)”

. . . instead, the precise same rate of progress could mean accomplishment and thus encouragement and joy. Posthaste I configured my tasks in the Orkanizer pomodoro manager to be finishable in 25 minutes and set my number of previsioned tomatoes to 1. (And from hereon out, all prevision numbers would be set to 1, right? 🙂 )


Did this matter? Did this work?

It worked for 2 tomatoes in a row that first attempt (and this now meant 2 tasks and 2 deliverables!). And it was indeed true: Over time (with more and more use of this strategy), I began to feel very different about the same progress that otherwise would have seemed like “Yeah, I guess that was one more step, but I’m still not done with the task I’m working on. Just 7 tomatoes to go, and then victory. Hoorah?”

And I was SO proud of myself because I had set each pomodoro goal a little high (about 35 minutes of work for the 25 minute). That gave me a different type of challenge and motivation in addition to just needing/wanting to be done with the thesis. It activated curiosity and challenge and my schoolgirl’s “winner” mentality: “I betcha I get this 35-minute-long task done in 25. Betcha. Oh, watch me. Bet!”

Aside: I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read about how graduate work is a different animal than secondary or college work, and thus typical high-achievers might find graduate work especially challenging, psychologically-speaking, when they hit walls they must overcome. Being un-used to encountering walls, and all. Nowadays, as a novice researcher/writer, more often than not I’m in a psychological state of “This-is-another-new-thing-or-skill . . . am-I-actually-doing-this?” So with the slightly-overestimated pomodoro goal, it was a little nice getting to use my schoolgirl “I can do it, just watch” mentality a little. 🙂

Anyhoo: That first attempt at the strategy, I was working so hard for that deliverable and the reward I’d set up for myself that in the middle of the first pomodoro tomato I developed a technique for speeding things up! (I was also trying to avoid reinforcement of writing aversion at all costs, because I can’t afford it!). And, the rewards kind of matter (i.e., make a difference): I was surprised by that! I’ve tended to have the mentality that just getting done is reward and motivation enough. But these small rewards added something to it all: Instigation/reinforcement of writing affinity. INTERESTING!

I’ve tried this again and again since that first attempt, and I can honestly say that when I’ve “needed” it, it’s transformed things for me. I don’t have to work this way ALL the time, but when I look around and notice that I’m close to HATING the writing process, I realize: Uh oh: I’ve been stressing myself out with these huge, global, globs of writing goals. Time to work smartly.

S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros may not work for everyone. For me, the afforded change lies mainly in my attitude towards prewriting and revising. I think the big take-away for me is not that people’s pomodoros should necessarily be S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros, but that the way one works should work FOR oneself.

A Final Thought: The Writing Reward System and Its Nature MATTERS!

Working on Developing My Writing AddictionAs I alluded to above, if you reward EVERY achieved pomodoro challenge, it can instigate and reinforce writing affinity. My rewards (of course earned every 25 minutes unless the timer runs out on me) include things like my favorite-est, most-est delicious-est tea, hearing favorite and nostalgic songs on Spotify (see the image above), stretching or doing a few crunches to get a little exercise in (makes me feel good to take care of myself), etc.


Are you a writing addict? How do you ensure that you are developing writing addiction or writing affinity? Does the writing deadline suffice for you so that the ideas of writing aversion, the pomodoro technique, S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros, etc. all seem like time-wasting hogwash? It’s fine if it does: Someone told me as much! Please post your comments! They will help, and we’d love to hear from you.

Well, as always, many blessings and happy writing. Take care!

The Hacked Role of Idea Mason’s “Material” and “Reminder” Items in My Workflow (and a Shout-out to Google Chrome’s MindMup)


For my next post, I’m going to share how I do  a technique I came up with which I all S.M.A.R.T. pomodoro tomatoes (the word “S.M.A.R.T.” in that sentence takes you to one link, and the word “pomodoro” takes you to another link). This technique I’ve come up with is for fostering writing affinity, or developing what Bolker calls writing addiction.

For now, I’m inspired to post about how I’m writing right now. I’m methodical so it’s not super fast for me, but it’s going just fine. I am looking forward to speeding up with all this in the future simply as a by-product from having more experience. I will likely always take a fair amount of time. I write just like Monica Lee says she writes (I feel SO affirmed) in her chapter “Finding Voice: Appreciating Audience” (see Rocco, T. S., & Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. John Wiley & Sons).

Overall I’m a happy camper. I’ve grown and learned much beyond where I began. I can write and actually understand that I can. Good deal. 🙂

The Reason for the Post: Sharing Three Critical Resources That Have Come to Be THE Difference-Makers for Enabling Me to Write

I was writing today using my resources and realized: “Where would I be without THESE?!??” I mean, nothing’s really a necessity, and even if I only had a typewriter, I’d be pecking away! LOL! But, I do need to document these resources for my future self.

I share about them below.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Especially regarding the last resource, which works wondrously awesomely for me because I can only get out drafts by turning not-so-great drafts into better drafts pretty methodically and visually.

Two of the three resources below I found on my own. One I discovered at Two are pretty normal. One is not-so-normal, and I have completely hacked it!  It’s also slightly quirky, but pays me back over and over for any and all quirks.  Feel free to post a question in the comments or email me if you are testing it out and have questions about how I get the most out of it.

This tool is all about facilitating good WRITING. It is not for final publishing, IMHO (too many little formatting issues and not the best citation method for ME, but other “fans” don’t complain of these). Depending on what you write in your various “text containers,” you can send sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters, etc. ONE AT A TIME or the whole draft to an open MS Word file. Then you can format (e.g. change straight quotes to curly quotes with a find all and replace all –ugh!) and do dynamic citation via, say, the Citavi Add-in if added to MS Word (that way the reference list gets built automatically). That’s what I do. If you want to try it but are on a Mac, you could but would need to run something like Windows Parallel.

Resource #1: The Single Method of Note-taking and Writing for a Dissertation as detailed here. PRICELESS! I would not finish without it. Many at PhinisheD benefit from it. If you read the reviews . . .

Resource #2: The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing. Wow. Can’t say anything more because I wouldn’t even know where to begin. (And that’s saying a lot! )

Resource #3 (see image and videos below) is my life saver. Despite the straight quotes thing.  (And dashes. That’s the last thing: Why don’t long DASHES export to MS Word? ). But genuinely, it would take me hours to explain all that it permits for me because of the way I use it.

If it didn’t exist, I’d still finish. But I write 1,012% better with this resource than in Scrivener or MS Word because of what writing is like for me and how writing works and goes for me.

The main, MAIN thing is that this resource allows me to very SEAMLESSLY blend the Single Method of academic reading, note-taking, and writing; the advice in the Carlis “one-draft dissertation” document (ignore the title if you like because beyond it all of the advice therein is just so illuminating for newbies); and Dr. Murray’s snack-writing method as I discussed elsewhere at this blog (feel free to use the search box to learn about it).

Below are a picture and links to videos I made (old videos, now, that don’t show my now-learned hacks but still explain the resource).

Note: The red arrow in the picture points to a tool you have called “Reminders.” Of course I’ve completely hacked and repurposed this tool. 🙂 It’s resizable, it floats with you wherever you go on your computer or the Internet, etc, and you can give it a title. You can open up multiple ones, drag and drop them onto your outliner in the program.

I write my paragraph’s or section’s Focus Statement in one, and let it hover over my drafting as I draft. You can paste and resize images in it (and that is a hack move so it takes a special move to do). Then you can hover the image over your draft as you write about it. One time I opened up two “Reminders” (I call them “sticky notes”), sized them both to half the size of my computer screen, placed them side by side, and placed draft #1 inside one and draft #2 inside the other and compared . . . copying and pasting, transferring headings . . . numbering sentences and paragraphs in order to ORDER things . . . comparing the before-and-after of how the draft read after moving one paragraph . . . etc.

Creating a reverse outline of a draft is super easy: Open a new file, paste your composition in a “text container.” View it. And start building the outliner, which sits to the left of all drafts. Unlike in Scrivener (which is great, too), adding an item to the outline doesn’t necessitate creation of a new, placeholder text file. You can make it so if you want to per outline component or not. You choose PER outline item.

I explain more in the caption to the image below.

NOTE: To enlarge the image for better viewing, please click the image. It will open in a new browser tab.

I set my writing containers to display three windows side-by-side. First I create the writing PLAN in window #2. Then I think about what to cite and what tables, figures, and appendices to use to support parts of the writing I've planned. Finally, I draft in window #1. You can click and send the main text window to MS Word.

NOTE: I’ve totally repurposed “Materials” in Idea Mason. In Idea Mason, you can create different “Materials” (for building draft content) and configure them however you like. I decided to take a blank container type, call its type “(sub)section,” and save the configuration of it to display three windows side-by-side. Every time I create a new (sub)section type of material, it opens up with this layout. Meaning, the comment and footnote are tabbed documents drug to the top. I don’t use these windows for comments or footnotes. Not at all. 🙂 To do good writing with this setup: First I create the writing PLAN in the middle window. Next I think about who to cite to support my intended writing and what tables, figures, and appendices to use to support the parts of the writing I’ve planned. I type that up in the right-most window. Finally, I draft in the left-most window, copying quotes and paraphrases from Citavi because the citation info comes along. Of course I draft referring constantly to the middle and last windows. You can click and send to MS Word whatever you like (the content of each of the windows, one window, or two of the windows).

Here is a link to a post containing my series of short videos about the tool: http://theblossomingfledglingresearc…tware-program/

NOTE: Video #5 (3 minutes in length) is no longer an issue. The developers responded immediately and remedied it. They are very responsive.

You can check out reviews here and otherwise learn more at other pages of its website.

Other actions in my workflow include mind mapping in Google’s MindMup because it’s kind of fun. (I create a child node first to anchor/build everything off of because it then “organizes” better, and then mind map AWAY!) You can drag the canvas, open and close nodes for clarity, export to FreeMind (*.mm), which I do and open in Docear so I can toggle back and forth between the concept map, branching layout and the vertical outline format. You can export your MindMup to a vertical hierarchical format (MS Word, HTML, etc.). NOTE: You can drag the canvas in Docear, too, highlight nodes to size their width, open and close nodes to put away details, etc. You can export both the MindMup or the Docear mind map to Ms Word. (NOTE: The Docear mind map in MS Word opens in Web Layout View so you have to select Print Layout view to “get back to normal.”)

So what are your favorite strategies and what tools enable them? I’d love to hear your experiences. Learning how you write and why and finding ways to do it well are victories indeed. 🙂

As always, take care, and happy writing! 

Letter for a Dissertating Friend Who Said S/he’d Really Hit a Low Point


I hope this post finds you well!

The other day I sent a note of encouragement to a fellow graduate student who expressed that he or she had “really hit a low point.” He or she shared that there were just several issues that hit all at once.

This was my reply (I made a few edits so that it can be understood apart from the contents of the graduate student’s original post/note). I share here just in case it might encourage someone, inform someone, or inspire someone to create a note or have a conversation to support a fellow graduate student.

As always, blessings!


Hi! Many hugs. 

Is it possible to just take a breather-day of self-care? In K-12 teaching, we call this a personal health day. 

I am glad your health crisis is over and you’ve healed.

Are you 100% in charge of [major, not-dissertation-related, family-related task]? If so, is there anyone who could pitch in and help? Do you belong to a community or church that might help?

I am sorry to hear of the challenges in your relationship with your partner right now.

Is there a library, coffee house, park, and bookstore where you can go, declare that it is your space for working in peace, and make a work sanctuary of sorts? Perhaps you can find a variety of these, take your headphones, take a thermos of your most delicious and soothing tea, play soothing instrumental music softly, and allow yourself to run a peaceful, non-pressurized reading or writing routine while there. It’s the space where no on gets to psychologically hitch a ride along (not partner, not scary-to-write-for-instructor, not the phony police–no one).

I am sorry you have more courses than normal. 

Might it give you peace to map out everything you must read and write and submit . . . on, say, a reverse calendar? That way you can visually see it for what it is and make decisions, such as “this reading will get 70% concentration, this will get 50% effort, this will get full effort,” etc.

A simple gantt chart can function like a reverse calendar. There are tons of resources out there for making a gantt chart. I use Liquid Planner, but it has a small learning curve. I’ve heard good things about Comindwork and TomsPlanner, but haven’t used either. You may not be into such reverse calendars or software. 

I am sorry that your one instructor is scary to write for.

Would it help to think of yourself as writing for some other specific, reasonable person? Perhaps you just say to yourself, “Scary-prof-to-write-for perhaps won’t be satisfied. That’s her issue. Let me write the piece with Scary-prof-to-write-for’s requirements, but that _____ would appreciate.” To burn into your brain that you are not subject to Scary Prof’s anxiety-inducing nature, you could write the name (or grab a photo of replacement audience person from the web, print it, and tape it) to the front of the manila folder where you collect your notes, drafts, stickies, etc. for the paper. It’s hard to remember otherwise!

Here are some writing refresher sources, to perhaps help drive the phony police (imposter phenomenon) back:
Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix

There’s a PhinisheD thread or two that you might find particularly useful and inspiring:….ndset+sabotage and…n+once+for+all. You might check out books such as “Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day” by Bolker or “Writing for Professors” by Boice or “Demystifying Dissertation Writing” by Single. These help with the process, psychology, and emotion of writing.

PhinisheD members have shared tips over the years with me. A few about how to establish a peaceful AND effective writing routine have stuck with me:

  • At the end of each writing session, leave a note for yourself about what you just finished, what you are doing, and where you can start the next time you start back up
  • At the beginning of each writing session, give yourself a tomato (25 minutes) just to re-acclimate: Perhaps skim notes, flip through articles, simply open files, make tea, stretch, write a journal entry about how you’re thinking about your writing project, review your writing plan, dictate into a recorder how you’re thinking, etc. Ease in!
  • Be tolerant of iterative writing: That is, in the beginning just type from an outline a series of g’nuff (i.e., good enough) paragraphs. After you’ve set it aside for a day, return to it and make it better. But do not refrain from getting stuff down. If it helps, at first think of it as simply speaking on paper. Hone over time. But at least give yourself the chance to do so by typing early versions. Writing is thinking. Then we hone for the reader. 

Last thing I’ll share is how I’ve come to find my academic voice: http://theblossomingfledglingresearc…thorial-voice/

Wishing you self-patience, baby-stepping, and phony-police-defeating powers and vibes!

[Revising Strategy] Two ways to reverse outline and revise


When revising a draft, sometimes it helps to make a reverse outline: To take your draft and generate an outline of what it says. Then you can look at the outline to see if it flows. You may be able to detect where a point is missing or out of order, or where a point needs to be added.

Two Strategies

1. There’s this free program called Docear that allows you to make an outline with a mind mapping tool. Then you can toggle back-and-forth between an outline view and a concept map view. For some reason, that has made a difference for me. And you can develop a point into a rough draft paragraph by creating the paragraph as the CHILD node of the point’s node. The nice thing is you can hide or display child nodes so that paragraphs show or don’t.

Aside: The Thesis Whisper Blackline Masters can help you with developing points into paragraphs. Also, Dr. Carlis’s one-draft dissertation document can help you with (more) purposeful outlining and the ins-and-outs of paragraph-sequencing.

Once when I was stuck, I inched along like that.

2. HERE’S A PERHAPS FASTER STRATEGY: You can save your draft as a PDF, and then open it up in Adobe. To reverse outline, use the “comments” feature. Same thing to add points and paragraphs: Use the “comments” and annotation features. In the latest version of Adobe, you can even add audio notes. But . . . be careful: You don’t want to record very long notes that it takes a whole bunch of time to go back and hear!

This might go without saying, but if you already have a method that’s working for you, don’t waste the time on the Docear or the Adobe strategy. Keep what’s working for you!

What about you? Do you benefit much from reverse outlining? Do you have another way of doing so, or a completely different method of revising that you feel is effective? We’d love to hear from you! Take care!

Blog Updates and Strategy Share: Finding Your Authorial Voice


I hope this post finds you well!

NOTE: I took a bit of time to update some of this blog’s pages. If so inclined, have a look around. Nearly every blog page has been updated. For example, the Video and Soundtrack for the Journey page now contains a smattering of videos, and the videos and forms and information on the Accountability|Focus page have all been updated. This blog’s blogroll (to the far left) has been updated. I tried to make everything current. 🙂

I hope you enjoy and/or benefit from some of the changes. On to the main topic of this post . . .

Developing Your Authorial Academic Voice

How did you or do you do this? I spent so much time in the literature that I knew what everyone else thought but not what I thought.

Here are two strategies I’ve been using of late that have actually helped me to develop my own, authorial voice.

Strategy #1: Take notes and/or extract quote excerpts from sources. Then, begin typing ONLY once you’ve internalized paraphrases of them.

My method here is to study the notes I’ve taken in order to internalize them, then talk them aloud (into a recorder or to hubby). Then I check what I’ve said against the notes. I do this 1-3 times until I’ve really internalized the material and am explaining it in my own words, with extra examples and such.

Then and only then do I attempt to type from my new knowledge base, which fares VERY differently than typing from a (sometimes very large) collection of unfamiliar notes.

I just started this strategy a few days ago, and it’s really made a difference. It takes a bit of time upfront, but this approach MORE than makes up for that on the back end. If I have more than 3 pages of notes, I break up the internalize+paraphrase and typing into batches.

I “mentioned” this to someone at PhinisheD who concurred wholeheartedly. He (or she) uses this strategy and feels it’s a great approach. I was glad to hear the affirmation.

Caution: Take care to PARAPHRASE. Do not plagiarise!!! Your credibility as a scholar goes down the toilet once you are known to steal others’ thoughts or ideas or — also incredibly troubling — are known to not understand the basics of source attribution.

Strategy #2: Take notes in a he says, she says, I say format.

As I read a group of articles the other day and sought to synthesize their content, I took notes like this:

Jones (2004) says: Basketball is fun but is bad on the knees. Too much shock from impact of running up and down the floor.

Keitherson, Mateo, and BeanieMan (2012) say: Suck it up! Your knees’ll strengthen. Stop cryin’!

I say: In light of Jordan’s (2007) findings, K, M, & B neglect the psychological detriment of exercising with pain. Aversion to exercise can develop, as CouchPotatoSmith & Allen (2008) found in their study of ___ participants . . .

This structure helped me to begin to connect what I was reading.

What About You?

Do you write as an AUTHOR and not just as a CITER? Were you from the beginning sort of just a natural at this, or did you work at this? Do you have advice, tips, or strategies to share? We’d love to hear from you!


A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of January 10, 2014

PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of April 16, 2014

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

WizFolio: A Competitor to Mendeley (more Robust) that Enables Writing, Citing, and Collaboration in the Cloud?

Greetings, all!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m in the final stages of my thesis work and cannot post as frequently or in-depth as I typically would.

Normally I would take the time to trial an app or piece of software before mentioning it here, and I would include my initial impressions of the app/software, often followed by a follow-up post updating my impressions.

Since it’s crunch time for me, I’m simply going to share a link to the app’s website and a link to a few of their videos. If you do look into the app, I’d love to hear your first impressions.

NOTE: That’s my way of saying, “I’m curious. Post your comments, please! I can’t in good conscience look into this now, but perhaps there’s a fix (LOL!): I could learn about it based on your experiences and what you think, right? Say something! Say something!” 😉

Yeah, I know. But as a former computer scientist turned educator turned researcher, it’s just in me. 🙂 Oh, well. 😀

On to the app itself . . .

The Cross-platform Web App: WizFolio

There are many WizFolio videos on YouTube, including many on how Apple users use WizFolio on the Ipad and in other iOS environments (WizFolio is a web app, though). The following three videos, in my opinion, seem to provide the viewer with a good sense of WizFolio. However, as I have yet to explore more videos or the app itself, I may be in error there.

One thing: What about the pay wall issue? This seems to not simply allow folks to scale it, but just obliterate it completely. Hmm. Remember the movie “A Perfect Murder” with Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen? You probably remember that scene when, with oh so much ice, Michael Douglas’s character told Gwyneth’s character “That’s not happiness to see me.” Yeah. I feel that scene could be re-enacted, with WizFolio as Michael’s character and Gwyneth’s played by any of your paid, online journals of choice.

Aside: Paperpile (here’s a video) seems similar and has me wondering if things are just going that way now, to the cloud? Paperpile is a Google reference, search, and citation app for using Google Docs to writing individually or in collaboration, with citation and auto-reference-list-building functionality and such. I don’t know if I’m ready to draft and write — to have my pre-publish thoughts — in the cloud! I haven’t yet needed to write collaboratively, though.

That about exhausts my current level of expertise ( 😉 ) on WizFolio. As always, Godspeed regarding all of your present endeavors. The videos are embedded below.

Happy writing, and take care!


[Video] Easier Writing in Gingko App, the Most FLUID Writing Environment Imaginable


It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to post. My thesis deadline is fast looming, and so this will likely be my last post until I finish my thesis and finish presenting in Spring of 2014.

I’m going on hiatus with a bang, though: Below is a very quickly-made video of how I’m using Gingko App (you’ve GOT to see it) to do the Single Method of Academic Writing, which Dr. Single outlines in her book “Demystifying Dissertation Writing.” Her method is a game changer. You want to know about the method. 🙂 Gingko App makes it SUPER FLUID. But, even if you don’t use her method, Gingko App is still just an amazingly fluid writing environment.

ASIDE: One thing I left out of the video is how easy it is to create the quotes in Citavi by just highlighting the quote in the PDF preview displayed in Citavi, and then pasting the quote into a Citavi quote bubble. This makes quote-gathering a BREEZE!

Well, I hope you enjoy the video. (Click on the little square in the lower-right corner of the YouTube video to expand it fully to a large view.) Please feel free to post comments and/or questions. Take care, and as always, happy writing!