Archive | February, 2011

Week 5

28 Feb

Sharing content you’ve created

14th Thing – SlideShare and Prezi

SlideShare, launched in 2006, does for PowerPoint presentations what YouTube did for videos. The site, which gets an estimated 12 million unique visitors per month, allows you to share PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote and OpenOffice presentations.

As well as being able to annotate and add audio, comments and tags (like we saw in week 3) to your uploaded presentations, you can easily embed the slides into a WordPress blog post, just like this…

Adding your presentations to a site like SlideShare allows others to easily find them and is a great way of forging new contacts.

Prezi, which officially launched in 2009, provides a different approach to developing a presentating – rather than using multiple individual slides, you use a single canvas. Prezi allows you to zoom around the canvas from item to item.

To get an idea of how Prezi looks, view this presentation by Adam Somlai-Fischer: “Why should you move beyond slides?”. Once the page has loaded, use the large arrow to move forward through the presentation. You might like to see if you can figure out how to make the presentation play automatically.

To learn a bit more about Prezi, read this blog post by Ned Potter (University of Leeds): “Prezi For The Win? Ten Top Tips To Make a Good One

Step 1:
Search SlideShare and Prezi and looks for some presentations relevant to your interests of areas of research. If you find a particularly useful presentation, write a short blog post about it.

Step 2:
Do you prefer the more traditional style of PowerPoint presentations or do you like the more dynamic Prezi style?


15th Thing – Google Documents

So, what happens if you are working on a collaboration with colleagues from different universities, or even the commercial sector? If you have a document you are all contributing to, how do you know which version 2.1 is the correct one! Where do you store the master copy?

Google Docs may be just the thing for you!

Google Docs is a tool that allows you to share work online. This could be documents, spreadsheets, presentations and/or drawings, which you can upload from your PC or create from scratch within the tool. The video below will show you the benefits of using Google Docs:

Step 1:
Using the username and password for your Google account (the one you created in Week 1) log on to Google Docs.

Step 2:
Click on the ‘Create New’ button beneath the Google Docs logo and then decide whether you’re going to create a document, spreadsheet, presentation or drawing.

Step 3:
Depending on your choice, you’ll now be in a word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation or drawing area. Enter text or data as appropriate and use the formatting toolbar to format your work. N.B. Detailed support pages are available from Google.

Step 4:
When you have finished creating your masterpiece, click on ‘File’ and then ‘Save’.

Step 5:
Now share your work with another 25 Thinger. Click on the ‘Share’ button in the top right hand corner of the screen and then select ‘Sharing settings’. Enter the e-mail address of the person you would like to share this item with in the ‘Add people’ box and decide whether you’re going to allow them to edit or simply view it. This person will then receive an e-mail containing a direct link to the item.

After coming up with the idea for 25 Research Things @ Huddersfield on Twitter, we used Google Docs to plan, write and share the original outlines of this course!


16th Thing – Creative Commons

Next week we are going to look at images, but before we do, ever wondered about who owns the copyright of images on Flickr etc.?

Ever wondered what the Creative Commons licence is on this blog?

Creative Commons has released several copyright-licenses which allow creators on content to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators.

Visit to the Creative Commons pages to learn more about sharing, remixing, and using creative works.

Step 1:
Visit the Creative Commons pages and assign your Blog a CC licence. You can download the logo, type of licence and link to appear in the blog.

You will also find Creative Commons licences appearing as an alternative to ‘copyright transfer’ for academic journal publishing. Open access publishers such as Biomed Central and journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals use Creative Commons licences to allow authors to share and remix their work. The University Repository also gives you the option to assign a Creative Commons licence to your work.

Step 2:
Blog about your thoughts on using a Creative Commons for you research? Who should own the copyright to your research? Would your research benefit from a Creative Commons licence, rather than a publishers “copyright transfer agreement”?


Week 4

21 Feb

25 Thingers Blogs

Don’t forget to check out the other Thingers blogs this week. You can find them on the right of this page under ‘Blogroll’. Take a look at what everyone is saying and don’t forget to leave a comment.

The 25 Research Things Team

Social Networks

This week, we’re focusing on social networks. These are websites which allow you to keep track of and interact with people. Some are very simple indeed; others are more complicated. Facebook is the most famous, but we’re going to look at some that are perhaps less widely-known, but very useful for researchers.


11th Thing – Twitter

Twitter (n) ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’. The site founders read this dictionary definition, and decided that it pretty much summed up what their microblogging service offered to users. However, as of April 2010, 100 million people worldwide were using Twitter to share their thoughts about current affairs, celebrities and – inevitably – cats. So there must be something in it. Take a look at this short video to learn more.

Twitter really took off thanks to a film festival and conference in 2007, where it allowed delegates to communicate with each other via a completely open ‘back channel’. It’s no surprise, then, that Twitter is starting to appear regularly at academic conferences. Funding councils also use Twitter as a way to communicate news and opportunities, and you can even find collaborators via the service (this 25 Things programme began following a Twitter exchange at a conference in July!). So there are many reasons to explore Twitter a little further…

This week, if you’re not already on Twitter, we’d like you to sign up and start using the service. If you are on Twitter, we’d like you to blog about your experiences to date.

For Twitter newbies:

Step 1:
Go to the Twitter home page and create an account for yourself.

Step 2:
Search for someone or something to “follow”. If you have any friends that you know are already using Twitter, search for them and click on the “Follow” button. Otherwise, search for “bbc” and follow one or more of their Twitter feeds. Or why not try to find your research council – most of them now have official Twitter feeds as well.

Step 3:
Over the next few days, try to remember to occasionally update your Twitter status.

If you’re interested in following them, here’s our selection of Twitter feeds:

You might also be interested in the recent Digital Researcher conference, which encouraged delegates to talk to each other via Twitter – this included virtual delegates from as far away as Canada and Brazil. You can view the archive of these Tweets at an archiving service called TwapperKeeper!

12th Thing – Lanyrd

We are not the only ones to have spotted the link between conferences and Twitter. Some clever developers have created a Twitter application which allows you to share the conferences you’re attending, and see where the people you follow are going to be as well.

It’s still in its early stages, but Lanyrd is an interesting model and we think it’s worth your while to take a look around.

Step 1:
Go the Lanyrd home page and sign in using your Twitter ID.

Step 2:
Take a look around and see what conferences are happening, and maybe think about adding one that you’re attending.


13th Thing – LinkedIn

One of the big challenges when using social networks is keeping a distinction between your personal and professional lives. While it’s great to have another way of keeping in touch with your work contacts, you don’t necessarily want those people to have access to your holiday photos!

LinkedIn draws a very clear line between the two. It’s a social network that’s designed specifically for professionals, and most of its members are there for work-related reasons.

The basic premise is that you, the member, are at the centre of an ever-expanding social network. There are people that you know (your direct connections). Then, there are people that your direct connections know (your second-degree connections). And there are the people that your second-degree connections know (your third-degree connections).

LinkedIn thinks that, when it comes to solving work-related problems, staying up-to-date in your sector or finding a job, the people that are a degree or two removed from you are just as helpful as the people you already know. So it provides a way for you to see and connect with those people. Watch this short video for a bit more detail.

So the final Thing we’d like you to do this week is to experiment with LinkedIn.

Step 1:
Go to the LinkedIn home page and sign up to create an account.

Step 2:
Search for people you know. Add them as contacts. See if they know anyone else who could be useful to you, and consider asking for an introduction. Also, look and see if there are any groups you could join – starter for ten; if you search for Huddersfield you’ll find the university alumni group.

Don’t forget to blog about your experiences with social networks this week. Have you made any new connections? Learned anything new? Will you stay a member of these networks after 25 Things finishes?

Week 3

14 Feb

Organising your favourite content

7th Thing – Tagging

Last week we looked at Technorati and the blogosphere, this week we’ll spend a bit more time looking at tagging.

Tagging is an open and informal method of categorising things that allows users to associate keywords with online content (webpages, pictures & blog posts). Tagging is designed to be both personal – you choose which tags you want to use – and collaborative – others can see the tags you’ve assigned, and can choose to follow you in using them.

[ Image by cambodia4kidsorg from Flickr ]

You may find this idea inspiring or think it is opening the door to anarchy, however, tagging is perhaps one of the defining elements of web 2.0’s user-generated content, and it’s not going to go away.

Step 1:
Look back on your blog posts and organise them by adding more tags. This can be as formal or as fun, as workmanlike or as personal, as you like – you decide how you want to present your information! Blog about whether you think this is order or anarchy.


Know how when you save a bookmark in the ‘Bookmarks’ menu of your browser, you have to choose a folder to put it in? And it can only go into one folder (unless you want hideous duplication)? Irritating, isn’t it …

In the first 25 Research Things we talked about using Delicious, but the very week we promoted it, Yahoo seemed to start to wind it down after many years as THE social bookmarking site – see the End of Delicious.

Highlight the Web With Diigo from CogDogBlog

The good news is that Diigo (pronounced as Dee’go. The name “Diigo” is an abbreviation for “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff.”) is a looking to plug the gap. The even better news for Delicious users is that you can migrate your old Delicious bookmarks to Diigo.

Here’s a video clip to introduce Diigo …

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

…or take a tour to learn more

How is that social?

Diigo is much more than a place to keep tabs on your websites. It allows you to share what you have found with others via Twitter, blogs etc. You can build a personal learning network to see what others are reading. You can set up research groups (public, private or semi-private) and group tag! Everything on Diigo is there because someone has thought it’s worth saving; it can be nice having a human filter for the endless amount of stuff out there!

Step 2:
Now create a Diigo account for yourself and discover how this useful tool can replace your traditional browser bookmark list. Now use their ‘Send to Blog’ feature to share your research..

Step 3:
Is tagging a good idea? Create a blog post containing your thoughts.

You’ll be doing more with tags in some later Things, particularly Flickr.


8th Thing – LibraryThing

As a researcher you will soon build up a collection of your own books. But are they hidden away on a shelf somewhere? Or left in a box? Do you enjoy finding lost and forgotten gems on the shelf to read? Then LibraryThing may be just the tool for you.

Developed for booklovers, this online tool not only allows you to create an online catalogue of your own, it also connects you to other people who have similar libraries and reading tastes. Add a book to your catalogue by just entering the title and find other users who share your reading tastes. There are lots of ways to use LibraryThing. You can even view your books on a virtual shelf, add a widget to display titles that are in your catalogue.

Watch this short video which tells you about LibraryThing…

So why not create your own library online. With over 1,000,000 users and 50 million books catalogued, you’re bound to discover something new.

Step 1:
Take a look around LibraryThing and create an account.

Step 2:
Add a least 5 books to your library.

Step 3:
Blog about your findings and be sure to link to your LibraryThing catalogue. How popular were your books? Did you find any discussions about your favourites?

Here are some useful LibraryThing links:


9th Thing – Mendeley

Cited in the Guardian as ‘most likely to change the world for the better’ in July 2010, Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network founded in 2007 in London. It combines Mendeley Desktop, a PDF and reference management application (available for Windows, Mac and Linux) with Mendeley Web, an online social network for researchers.

In the Guardian article Victor Henning, founder and director, was quoted as saying:

“What’s more, our database of research papers is doubling every 10 weeks. We’re now reaching 30m papers – we’re confident we’ll overtake the 40m papers at Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge by the end of this year.”

Here’s a video clip to introduce Mendeley…

Dr. Michael Hohl in the School of Art, Design and Architecture uses Mendeley:

What I like best about Mendeley is being able to see what other researchers are reading at the moment. It helps to keep track of trends but also get new ideas and find new connections of bodies of knowledge.

It allows me to add and manage references that I regularly refer to, such as books, newspaper articles, journal articles, web pages and even films. Managing means I can group references around a certain topic and also add notes and tags.

All of this usually takes time but there also is a ‘web importer’ button that allows to easily add an item found on the web.

Extremely helpful is also the instant conversion of citation styles which can be a tedious and time consuming business, such as manually converting from “Chicago” to “Harvard” style.

Step 1:
Take a look around Mendeley and create an account.

Step 2:
Take a look at the research papers in Mendeley by searching for your research interest and see if there are any groups out there that you might be interested in joining, or why not create your own group!

Step 3:
Blog about what you think to Mendeley. Did you find some interesting research? Have you made contact with any members?

You may wish to download Mendeley to your desktop, although you will need admin permissions to do this on your PC in the university. Don’t worry Mendeley works just fine from the web.


10th Thing – CiteULike

CiteULike, is a free service for managing and discovering scholarly references. It is sponsored by the publisher Springer although founded when its originator was attached to the University of Manchester in 2004.

Here’s a video clip to introduce CiteULike…

Take a look at the article, Citeulike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service, in the open access journal Ariadne.

Step 1:
Try searching for your research interests (or even your research!) and see what comes up.

Step 2:
If you like what you see, why not register and start tagging your own results? Here’s a video clip to introduce using CiteULike and RSS feeds to filter through articles quickly.

So what did you think of tagging? We realise that there is a lot to take in this week, but we hope there is something out there for you. Will you be using any of the things you discovered this week to help you organise your research? Don’t forget to blog your thoughts and tell us which method you prefer, or do you use something else?

Week 2

7 Feb

Blogs & RSS Feeds

4th Thing – Technorati

So, now you have a blog. So do all the other 25-Thing-ers at Huddersfield. But how many other people are using the internet to share their thoughts, experiences and stories about cats? How big, in short, is the blogosphere?

[ “Britain Going Blog Crazy” by Annie Mole on Flickr ]

Well according to Technorati, the leading search tool and authority for blogs, by June 2008, there were over 112 million blogs currently being tracked by the site. Yes, big numbers. But, as you’ve already seen for yourselves, blogging is so easy that almost every industry has been trying to find ways to make blogging work for them.

That’s why, this week, we’re going to look more closely at Technorati.

Do you want to make sure your blog is being tracked? Register your blog with Technorati. Do you want to tag your posts to make them easier to find through a Technorati search? If you owned a business and were trying to attract attention you’d register it with Technorati. If you want other people to be able to find you and your blog, this is a great way to start.

Step 1:
Take a look at Technorati and try doing a keyword search for “Huddersfield” in Blog posts, in tags and in the Blog Directory. Are the results different?

Step 2:
Explore popular blogs and tags. Is anything interesting or surprising in your results?

You can also use Google Blog Search to find interesting blog posts — for example, you might want to track down all the latest “Strictly Come Dancing” gossip 😀

In the same way that spam emails are a big problem, the same is happening with blogs — when you use Technorati or Google Blog Search, chances are that some of the results will be spam blogs (also known as “splogs”!). They’re not too difficult to spot, as the blog post text is usually gibberish along with lots of links to buy Viagra.

Optional extra:
If you’re up for another challenge, learn how to tag your posts with tags so they can join tag searches. The WordPress FAQ pages also have a section on how to add tags to your blog posts. We’ll be looking at tagging in more detail next week, so you might want to come back to this one.


5th Thing – RSS feeds and newsreaders

So now you’ve explored Technorati, you know that the blogosphere is pretty big, and probably contains quite a bit that you might find interesting. And on top of that there are all the other websites that you currently visit every day for news and views. And they’re all being updated, all the time. How on earth do you keep on top of the information overload?

Well, fear not, because this little orange button is about to make life a whole lot easier for you. It’s called an RSS feed, and it’s changing the way that web content creators share information, and web content users consume it.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web. Alongside a good newsreader, this tool will bring all your favourite information sources and web pages together in just one place and all at the same time…without being bombarded with advertising… without having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read before… and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually.

A newsreader is basically a tool which allows you to display content from lots of websites in one place. It can be a piece of software which you download to your desktop, or it can be web-based tool, which you can use on any computer you choose.

In terms of the web-based tools, Google seems to be dominating the market with its Google Reader. There are some useful tutorials online, including the Google Reader Tour, Google Reader in Plain English and these two videos.

Step 1:
Set up your own, personalized RSS feed reader. Learn about the difference between RSS feed readers and Google Reader.

Step 2:
Create a free account with Google Reader and subscribe to at least 5 newsfeeds to your reader. If you’re struggling to find some newsfeeds, you can try the ones listed below…

…don’t forget that this blog also has a RSS feed, so you could subscribe to that too! And why not check out your Research Council – many of them now have news feeds that can keep you updated on funding and jobs, among other things.


6th Thing – Finding RSS Feeds

Now that you have a newsreader (your Google Reader account), you can begin adding other newsfeeds that interest you.

There are several ways you can locate newsfeeds:

  • When visiting your favorite websites, look for RSS icons that indicate the website provides it. Often a feed icon will be displayed somewhere in the navigation bar of the site.
  • There are also search tools that can help you find feeds:
    1. — This search tool allows you to locate recent newsfeed items based upon keyword or phrase searching. The tool focuses specifically on news and media outlet RSS feeds for information, not weblogs.
    2. — Syndic8 is an open directory of RSS feeds that contains thousands of RSS feeds that users have submitted.

Step 1:
Explore some of the search tools noted above that can help you locate some news feeds.

Step 2:
Create a post in your blog about this exercise. Don’t know what to blog about? Think about these questions:

  • What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
  • How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life?
  • Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?
  • Which Search tool was the easiest for you?
  • Which was more confusing?
  • What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels?
  • Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?
  • What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?