The best tool in my studious life

When I first bought my iPad, I have reasoned with myself that it will be used to assist in my study and research (other than playing games, of course, which is very minimal *act innocent*). True to my intention, my iPad has been my greatest investment. I truly love my iPad and what it has been doing for me since.

However, before I show you what amazing things iPad can do for me, let me tell you my biggest problem in writing dissertation (in this early stage). It’s organizing my references. If you have done or are doing research, you would agree that referencing and reference management software are very crucial. My faculty is officially using Endnote and there are classes to teach us how to use it. Unfortunately, those classes are conducted during the weekday when I have to work. Furthermore, Endnote is licensed software which is not free to be installed at my own netbook or desktop. Honestly, I have been ‘reference-less’ for months since I started my dissertation. I do wonder how I got by with my research proposal without proper software but I know I won’t survive without one during my literature review.

That’s when I found Diigo. It’s not the proper software for referencing but I like its features in annotating and organizing web contents. It’s more like social bookmarking that allows you to highlight web contents, collect and share your bookmarks and its annotations. Unfortunately, its highlight function doesn’t work on PDF file and most of journal articles I found are in PDF format. While I was researching for more Web 2.0 applications, I found Zotero which is quite similar to Diigo but it does a little bit more. Zotero works as plugin to Firefox browser and Word processor and it works more towards referencing management on web content as well as PDF files. Unfortunately, its interface is less user-friendly in my opinion and most of the meta-data of article is not imported correctly, resulting in me editing more. Furthermore, Zotero has no iPad /iPhone apps which limits my access to it, unlike Diigo which works in both iPad and iPhone, which is why I still use it.

This is Diigo on my iPad…

All my bookmarks and annotations…

Reading and highlight in iPad is so easy…

However, Diigo still doesn’t function like Endnote and I still have problem with citation if I start writing. That’s when I found Ben or rather he found me in Twitter and I have been following his blog/twitter since. I read about his tips about choosing the reference management software and he recommends Mendeley. I believe I have finally found the solution to my problem. Mendeley is just the right thing I want for reference management and it’s free. Its desktop application is easy to use and it syncs to the cloud. The best thing of all is Mendeley has its iPad/iPhone apps. Super cool!

This is Mendeley on iPad…

I uploaded all those articles that I want for reference from the desktop application and Mendeley in iPad will automatically sync and download them.

I can even open the article which is in PDF format and start reading away.

Imagine that I can read those articles anytime when I want on my iPad. When I’m back to my desktop for writing, I can use the plugin from Mendeley for word processor for citation. I have tried to import citation and it’s quite easy. Another good thing about Mendeley is importing meta-data of articles. If the PDF I uploaded doesn’t contain enough information such as journal name, volume or pages, Mendeley desktop application can search the meta-data based on the article’s name on the web. So far, all the searches produce quite accurate information. I’m so impressed. Save me a lot of time to edit them.

Finally, I’m not trying to sell you the idea for a ‘must-have’ iPad but what I’m saying is iPad has become the best tool in my life right now. As I have been telling my colleague, iPad is not a TOY anymore but an important  TOOL for learning as the technology of Web 2.0 evolved. There are many research out there about technology enhanced learning and I’m experiencing it first hand as part of my research in using Web 2.0 technology in my own learning.

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2 thoughts on “The best tool in my studious life

  1. You use an iPad! How cool, I think it would be ideal for reading papers on the go, I just haven’t been able to get one yet. I’m going to have a lot of questions for you about it 🙂 Do you also use an apple mac/ desktop?

    Wizfolio seems like another good reference manager with iPad compatibility – the main difference being that it’s totally web based, no need to download anything. As with Mendeley, you can also upload you pdf’s to their servers so you can access them anyware (although this will cost a bit of money).

    Great post, catch you soon!

    • I use Windows desktop in the office, Sony Vaio netbook at home plus iPad and iPhone on the go. I think iPad is really a good investment and you should consider. iPad 2 is in UK already? Mine is the first generation. Hehe! I think I’m happy now with Mendeley and will stick with it for now. Thanks for recommending.

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