Articles by author: afloyd

  • Day in the Life of a DSL Intern: Research, Teaching, and Getting Mugged

    Hello again, dear readers!

    In my last entry, I talked a little bit about some of the similarities between my school life and my work life, and I thought I’d stick with the same theme for this week. I’ve already talked about how I’ve written a lot of essays in my time as a student and how my essay writing experience has helped me in my work here at Brock. A significant part of essay writing is the research process – finding sources that support your argument, and keeping track of your citations so that when the time comes you can make connections between your thoughts on your topic, and the thoughts of others. I’ve been researching certain topics all throughout my placement here at Brock, but the last few weeks in particular have been very research heavy.

    I was recently asked to join a subgroup to support an ongoing library initiative at Brock. We call ourselves “search wizards” (finally – my dreams of being Hermione Granger have come true!), and our job is to scour the web and the library for sources relating to a certain topic. My role in this group was to do some research on the internet and find blog posts, opinion pieces, and social media posts related to our topic. I read blogs from time to time and I’m certainly no stranger to social media, but I had never used either of these sources in an academic way. My fields of study usually require scholarly papers and studies to support essay arguments, meaning that unless you can make a really strong argument for a Twitter feed being educational, most professors won’t let you rely on it to prove a point. Getting to take points from wherever I wanted was a nice change of pace for me. The experience was a nice mix of not feeling any pressure to get a high grade, while also feeling like I was contributing to something important.

    I’ve also been doing some research into data visualization for the DSL – living up to my Mizz Vizz nickname! When the DSL space is finished, there are plans for a big visualization wall to display data visualizations from across the web and other public visualization platforms. In my time as the DSL’s resident visualization expert, I’ve found that there’s a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to data visualization. People often think of visualization as just creating graphs, and don’t understand what the need would be for advanced visualization programs when you can easily create graphs in Excel. My hope for the visualization wall in the DSL space is that people will see that visualization is so much more than graphs – it can involve maps, webs, charts, and so much more! It’s been pretty cool for me to see what kind of advanced visualizations are out there, and I’m excited to be able to share my findings with the larger Brock community.

    In the midst of all this research, I also had to focus on teaching my first workshops as a DSL intern! It felt good to take my knowledge and experience with giving presentations (as well as my tendency to talk fast when I’m nervous) and apply it in a real-world situation. I’m happy with my progress so far, and look forward to teaching two more workshops before I head back to Western at the end of April.

    Finally – I leave you with the above photos. My colleagues in the DSL managed to keep my new mug a secret from me for quite some time, and it was such a nice surprise! I think they’ve captured my essence pretty well, I’m content to do just about anything as long as I have a book with me!

    My blog series is posted bi-weekly, so be sure to check back on March 22nd for more on my internship journey!

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • Day in the Life of a DSL Intern: Whoaaaa, we’re halfway there…

    Hello again, dear readers!

    Can you believe this series is halfway done? I know they say time flies when you’re having fun, but I didn’t realize it would go this fast! I sometimes find myself wondering how I’ll adjust from work mode here at Brock to school mode when I go back to Western; but the more I think about it, the more I realize that the two environments are actually quite similar.

    As a former English major, my undergraduate career consisted mostly of writing essays. I’ve always liked writing, and I like to think of myself as a pretty good writer (I suppose you, dear reader, can be the judge of that). I realized when I started grad school that this trait would come in handy, as most of my assignments have consisted of lengthy reports and essays. What I didn’t realize, however, was that I would still be doing so much writing in the workplace. This blog series has been a great way for me to write creatively, but I’ve had loads of other writing projects as well!

    First, we have to talk about workshops. I’ve mentioned in previous entries that I’ll be hosting my own workshops on OpenRefine and PowerBI, as well as one on Zotero later in March. Fortunately for me, the Zotero workshop I’ll be running is one that’s been run before, meaning I’ll have notes from past presenters to guide me through the process. For the other two workshops, I’ve had to start from scratch and write my own tutorials and notes. Usually when I give a presentation, I write little notes to myself so I remember what to say, but I’ve never written a presentation with the intention of having others follow along. I found the hardest part was making sure my notes make sense objectively, rather than just to me. I also consider myself a pretty detail-oriented person, so I found it challenging to decide which details were necessary to include in a tutorial and which ones I could leave out. My first workshop is a week away, so we’ll see how my tutorials work in practice!

    I’ve also been given the job of planning the next episode of the DSL’s weekly podcast. This has definitely been the most challenging writing project I’ve had so far. I’ve really enjoyed participating in the podcast, but being in charge of the conversation is definitely uncharted territory. I think part of the reason podcast planning has been more challenging is because there’s no way to plan a conversation, you can only write points and let the conversation flow as it does. Currently, my biggest challenge is deciding on a fun question to ask the group to get the conversation going. I’ve learned that being thought provoking and light hearted at the same time is harder than I thought it would be, but I’m confident that I’ll get there.

    In addition to all of these projects, I’ve been taking manual notes on just about everything that happens here at Brock. This includes notes in meetings, notes from workshops, and notes in interviews when I reach out to other schools as part of the repository project I mentioned in my last entry. Writing things down has always been my preferred way of remembering things, and I’ve always thought that the best part of writing things down is getting the chance to go back and read things that you wrote in the past. I do this all the time with old essays from my undergrad and journal entries from years ago. One day in the future I’ll probably do the same with this blog series (hi, future Erin! Do we have flying cars yet?), but for now I’m happy to make the most of the second half of this series and all of the writing projects that come my way!

    My blog series is posted bi-weekly, so make sure to check back on March 8th for more on my internship journey!

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • New Scholarly Communication Workshop Series

    The Brock Library Scholarly Communication Working Group in partnership with the Digital Scholarship Lab have developed an engaging lunchtime learning series. The goal of this series is to provide you with tips for managing, publishing and sharing your scholarship. We invite you to bring your lunch and join us for some interesting content and great conversation.

    All workshops are being held on the dates below, from 1-2 p.m. in Classroom B (ST230).

    For further information on each workshop, follow the links provided:

    Space is limited so sign-up soon!

    Questions? Email: dsl@brocku.ca

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • A Day in the Life of a DSL Intern: Collaboration, Open Access and Quentin Tarantino

    Hello again, dear readers!

    I don’t know about you, but I love being busy. Don’t get me wrong, vacations are nice and there’s nothing like the feeling of taking it easy after finishing a big project or writing a monster essay, but I like to always have something to work on, and I’m always willing to take on new projects and tasks to prevent lulls in my day. Because of this, Brock has been a great place for me to work because there’s always a project to work on, a program/technology to learn, or a person to contact in the hopes of collaboration. Speaking of which, collaboration was the theme of the DSL’s podcast this week (listen here if you haven’t yet!), and as I participated in the group’s conversation about working with others and taking advantage of their knowledge to better your own, I started to think about all of the collaborating I’ve done in the last few weeks and how much I’ve been able to learn and grow through collaborative work.

    One of the first new projects I took on recently was learning how to use Open Journal Systems – an open access journal management and publishing system. As a (future) librarian, open access is a cause that’s very near and dear to my heart, and I know this is true for the DSL as well. As members of a public research institution, Brock students have access to all kinds of databases and programs to conduct research and complete assignments. What students often don’t realize is that these databases and programs can be very expensive to purchase and maintain, meaning people outside of Brock and other research institutions typically don’t have access to the same resources they do. This is why open access is so important – it combines the sophisticated and respected technologies, databases, and journals needed to conduct and report important research while still being accessible to everyone regardless of their academic affiliations (or lack thereof). Brock’s undergraduate history department publishes The General through OJS and whenever new student editors are hired, they need to be taught how to request revisions and approve articles for publishing – that’s where I come in!

    Collaborating with these members of the undergraduate history department to teach them how to use an open access software was a great learning experience. They learned how to use a system that will allow their journal to be accessible to everyone (a very cool opportunity for undergrad students – I had to do my best to hide my envy), and I learned how to effectively break down a new and foreign system into easy, teachable steps. I think this process will definitely come in handy when I start running some DSL workshops!

    Speaking of running workshops, I mentioned in my previous entry that I’ve been doing a lot of work with visualizing data in PowerBI so that I can teach a workshop on this particular program. Last week, I got my first collaborative visualization opportunity in the form of a dataset about a hockey tournament from Brock’s Centre for Sport Capacity. I won’t go into too much detail about this super-secret mission (known around the DSL as “Operation Hoops”), but I’ve really enjoyed working with the other people in this project to visualize their data in a user-friendly way through PowerBI. I’ve also been attending all of the workshops offered by the DSL and learning a lot. Since my last entry, I’ve learned the basics of the Command Line Interface, the Python programming language, and ArcGIS pro – a program that allows users to map data to help answer questions. I didn’t know a lot about programming languages going into these workshops, but I had a ton of fun learning. It all became clearer to me when I learned how to use Command Line to show how many times each of the main characters in Little Women are mentioned throughout the book. I thought this was a really cool way to show how the technology is applicable to the humanities, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the data from the Agatha Christie study I mentioned in my previous entry. These workshops have given me more insight into what digital scholarship truly is – the opportunity to “collaborate” with technology in order to make some really interesting discoveries. In just over a month at Brock, I’ve been lucky enough to explore some pretty cool technologies, and collaborate with some pretty cool people.

    In my university experience, I’ve participated in more group projects than I can count. One of my grad school professors liked to encourage as much group work as possible, insisting that group projects are good practice for the real world. Now, as a (temporary) member of the real world, I can confirm that this is true. The only difference is that in the real world, they’re called working groups. There are lots of working groups here at Brock, all of them working towards various initiatives to ensure that every student has the best library experience possible. As part of my placement, I’ve been involved with a working group whose goal is to improve Brock’s institutional repository. There’s a lot of amazing research being done at Brock, and it is essential for researchers to be able to publish their findings to a reliable, user friendly platform. Meeting with the other members of this group felt a lot like a group project at school – goals and best approaches were discussed, the work load was divvied up, and roles were assigned. My role was to reach out to librarians at other schools to get a sense of how their repository platforms perform and how their users interact with it. Interviewing complete strangers over the phone was a new (and I’ll admit, slightly nerve wracking) experience for me. The last (and first ever) phone interview I did was when I interviewed for this placement four months ago. But, as with any group project, I did my part and I learned along the way. I’m officially two for two on phone interviews! Our work is far from over, but I can say that participating in this working group has been a great exercise in collaboration so far, because I’ve learned how to collaborate effectively with people both inside and outside of my workplace in order to achieve a goal.

    I know that by this point you’re probably thinking, “gosh Erin, it sounds like all you do is work super hard! Don’t you have any fun at Brock?”, and to that I say of course! The work I do requires a lot of data analysis, so a big part of my job involves finding data to work with. Since my last entry, I’ve played around with data about the contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (who wins, who goes home, who gets the coveted first impression rose) and The Avengers (names, aliases, how many times they’ve died and come back to life). My favourite dataset to work with though was one that kept track of every curse word and death in each of seven Quentin Tarantino films – and how long into the movie these curse words and deaths occur. His movies are a little gratuitous for my taste, but even I have to admit that there’s something very amusing about constructing a graph full of curse words. It was a learning experience as well, as I can definitively answer which of his films is the most profane (Pulp Fiction, with a whopping 469 curse words) and which was the most graphic (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, with 63 on-screen deaths). Who says data can’t be fun?

    My blog series is posted bi-weekly, so be sure to check back on February 22nd for more on my internship journey!

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • Don’t Miss Out! Software Carpentry Workshop this February

    Join the Brock Digital Scholarship Lab for this two day Software Carpentry workshop. The goal of this workshop is to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems. This will be an excellent forum for conversation and networking! Hope to see you there. Only 30 spots available so sign up now!

    Who:  This course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You do not need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

    When: February 21-22, 2019 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Where: Plaza 600F, Brock University

    Cost: $20.00 + $1.51 Fee

    For more information visit ExperienceBU.

    Register for this event.

     

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab

  • Podcasting, Visualizing and Dreaming of Trudeau

    Hello again, dear readers!

    By the time you read this blog entry, I’ll have finished my third full week at Brock – I can’t believe how fast time is already flying by!

    So far, one of my favourite things about being in a university library is the fact that I’m involved in a lot of learning experiences – both my own and those of Brock students and faculty members. I said in my first entry that I wanted to disprove the idea that technology is rendering libraries obsolete, and I’ve found that the best way to do this is to demonstrate how much learning can occur with the help of technology, and the librarians who know how to use it. In just three short weeks, I’ve started work on a lot of different projects through both the Digital Scholarship Lab and the James A. Gibson library. Working on these projects has been exciting and also provided me with a lot of new learning experiences.

    First, I got to be a part of the DSL’s bi-weekly podcast (and I have the picture to prove it!). This was a totally new experience for me – I like listening to podcasts and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to record one, but I had never tried it myself until I started working in the DSL. One of the reasons I like listening to podcasts is because I find it to be a more natural way to learn something new or to hear another person’s opinion on a subject I’m familiar with in the hopes of gaining a new perspective. I won’t spoil the episode in case you haven’t listened yet, but I liked having the opportunity to voice my thoughts on a topic, while also learning from others in a casual environment. The recording process felt like four people having a normal conversation, but when I listened back to the episode I realized how much ground we’d really covered in what felt like a short time.

    Another project I’ve been involved with has been the planning of lots of DSL workshops for this semester. Working in the DSL has given me exposure to so many cool programs and technologies to learn and use in my work, and the workshops we’ve planned are a great way for students to learn these technologies and programs as well! Just last week, I attended my first workshop on Zotero, a citation management tool that is also capable of compiling bibliographies – a must for lengthy research papers. With every Zotero feature I learned, a small piece of my English major heart sighed, “if only I’d known about this in my undergrad when I was writing papers with 20+ sources”. The DSL is running another Zotero workshop closer to final assignment season (March 19th to be exact, run by yours truly), I highly recommend checking it out!

    I’ve also been working on mastering data visualization and plan on running some workshops about the various programs I’ve used to develop my skills – so if citation management doesn’t appeal to you, fear not! Data visualization is another great learning tool for students and faculty. It makes patterns easier to see in datasets and makes large data sets easy to read and interpret. One of my data visualization projects has been creating a report based on a study that assessed language changes in Agatha Christie’s novels to determine whether or not she developed dementia in her old age. The study itself was fascinating (and a great example of digital scholarship), and visualizing the data is a really great way to see the trends and patterns – especially if you’re a visual learner like me, who has a hard time drawing conclusions just from reading tables. I also really enjoyed working with this study because data visualization is often seen as more of a necessity in STEM fields, and using it to notice trends in Agatha Christie’s writing style proves that this isn’t the case. Another message I really want to emphasize in this series is that the services offered by the DSL, as well as digital scholarship in general, is relevant to all fields of study – not just those that are technology based.

    There are so many more projects and learning experiences I could write about in this entry, but I’ll leave you with one particular life lesson I learned last week about the nature of technology and social media. Following PM Justin Trudeau’s visit to Brock University, the DSL staff was overjoyed to see that Trudeau’s team appeared to be following us on Instagram! We basked in the glow of our national reach and validation for our efforts – how can you go wrong when The Prime Minister has actively shown support for what you do? We later came to the saddening realization that we had been bamboozled by a Justin Trudeau spam account (womp womp). We’re still hopeful that one day the real Justin Trudeau will drop by the DSL and profess his love for digital scholarship, but until then we’re happy to keep our focus on the Brock community.

    My blog series is posted bi-weekly, so be sure to check back on February 8th for more on my internship journey!

    Tags: ,
    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • Digital Scholarship Lab Offers Weekly Workshops

    This winter, enhance your digital scholarship skills with the Brock University Digital Scholarship Lab!

    Each week the DSL is offering training on new technologies and techniques for applying various platforms and methodologies to research projects, collaborations or just to your routine computer tasks. From text analysis and citation management to writing code and creating remarkable data visualizations, there is so much to learn. These workshops are also a great way to network with people across campus and generate unique ideas for group initiatives.

    No previous experience is necessary for almost all of these Workshops. Everyone is welcome!

    Register for the workshops at ExperienceBU or contact us dsl@brocku.ca for more information.

     

    Workshop Name

    Date

    Time

    Introduction to the Command Line January 21 1 – 2:30 pm
    Introduction to Python January 29 10 am – 12 pm
    Introduction to ArcGIS Pro February 1 10 – 11:30 am
    Esri Story Maps – Harness the Power of Maps to Tell Your Story February 6 11 am – 12:30 pm
    Python – Level 2 February 8 10 – 11:30 am
    Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) February 13 1:30 – 2:30 pm
    ArcGIS Pro – Level Two, Mapping the Canadian Census February 14 10 am – 12 pm
    Software Carpentry February 21-22 9 am – 5 pm
    Introduction to OpenRefine February 28 11:30 – 1 pm
    Introduction to PowerBI March 4 2:30 – 4pm
    Introduction to R March 13 1 – 3 pm
    Citation Management with Zotero March 19 9:30 – 11 am
    Introduction to PowerBI March 28 2 – 3:30 pm

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • Extra! Extra! New Digital Scholarship Lab Blog Series Starts NOW!

    Welcome to my first entry! My name is Erin, and I’m a Masters of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS for short) student. I’ve been working towards my degree at Western University for the last eight months, and I’m lucky enough to be experiencing a different university for my co-op placement this semester. I’ll be using this bi-weekly series to chronicle my time here at Brock University and to bring as much awareness as I can to the soon-to-be-opened Digital Scholarship Lab. But first, some rambling about why I’m here.

    As a Library and Information Sciences student, I often receive a variety of responses when I tell people about my academic interests and career goals. Among the most commonly heard responses are, “wow, you really need a Masters for that?”, and my personal favourite, “aren’t libraries kind of obsolete now that technology is so advanced? Who even reads books anymore?”.

    When people say these kinds of things to me, my general response is to simply shake my head or offer a polite response such as, “I love books, but libraries are much more than that!”. I’ve learned a lot about library technology and the future of the profession in school, but putting all of those theories into practice and seeing library technology at work is a completely different matter. When I found out I would get to work in Brock University’s Digital Scholarship Lab for my co-op placement, I thought about all of the technologies I would get to learn how to use and was excited to gain valuable experience with these technologies and perhaps even develop some more snappy comebacks for the library naysayers.

    However, when I arrived at Brock for my first day, I learned that not only was the DSL space not open yet, but that it likely wouldn’t open until I’m long gone from my co-op placement. My job here is essentially to plan for a space that I will likely never see. The good news is that there are so many Digital Scholarship initiatives going on here at Brock, even without an official space to host them. This means that I’ll get an even better “behind the scenes look” at how an academic library functions and the roles they play in all of the different faculties and departments at Brock.

    My goal for this series is to respond to the commonly held (but misinformed) belief that technology is making libraries obsolete. If anything, technology and libraries go hand in hand, and the various digital scholarship initiatives at Brock University are a perfect example of how much room there still is to grow and learn.

    My blog series will be posted bi-weekly so be sure to check back on January 25th for more on my internship journey!

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main

  • Software Carpentry Workshop

    Join the Brock Digital Scholarship Lab for this two day Software Carpentry workshop. The goal of this workshop is to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems. This will be an excellent forum for conversation and networking! Hope to see you there. Only 30 spots available so sign up now!

    Who:  This course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You do not need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

    When: February 21-22, 2019 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Where: Plaza 600F, Brock University

    Cost: $20.00 + $1.51 Fee

    For more information visit ExperienceBU.

    Register for this event.

     

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab

  • Citation Management with Zotero

    If you find using different citation styles difficult or if you just want to find a more efficient and organized way to manage citations for your research papers, this free workshop will be ideal for you. Zotero is a citation tracking platform that can be used with multiple citation formats. It allows you to create your own library, manage collections of sources, as well as quickly and easily create in-text citations and bibliographies. This Digital Scholarship Lab workshop will guide you through the installation of this tool and the most effective ways to use it.

    When: January 16th, 2019 from 10 – 11:30 a.m.

    Where: Classroom A (ST228) James A. Gibson Library, Brock University

    Sign up at ExperienceBU

    Email dsl@brocku.ca for more information.

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    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main