Creating Eye-Catching and Collaborative Charts with LucidChart

A sample chart I whipped up in just a few minutes.

Sometimes the way that you display your data can be just as important as the data itself. However, for those of us who are less artistically-inclined, finding a way to present our ideas in clear, appealing ways can be difficult. That is why LucidChart can be a powerful ally to help you in your quest to present your research!

LucidChart is a free online tool (though there are paid storage packages for heavy users) that allows you to create and share various kinds of charts, with options ranging from mind maps to Cisco Network diagrams, cause and effect diagrams to floor plans. The categories that LucidChart sorts their standard templates into are: Android, Business Analysis, Education, Engineering, Entity Relationship (ERD), Floorplan, Flowchart, Mind Map, Network, Network Infastructure, Org Chart, Other, Site Map, UML, Venn Diagram, Wireframe, and iOS. You can also create and save personal templates. Each of the many options can be customized, and if elements from other templates can be added to whatever chart you are using.

The chart template selection screen.

LucidChart takes (some) of the difficulty out of designing a chart. While you have the option to change every aspect of the chart, you can also use the recommended shapes, colors, and lay-outs that LucidChart provides for you. While every template will need at least a little tweaking (because all data is different), these options can make the process of creating your chart less stressful and quicker.

The basic work space for LucidChart.

One of the greatest aspects of LucidChart is your ability to share charts. Similar to other collaborative creation websites like GoogleDocs, you have the ability to send the link out to collaborators. You can then allow collaborators to edit, comment on, and/or view your document. You can also share your document on social media, or embed it on a website. A chat option makes for easy commentary on your chart, as well.

Overall, LucidChart is a great data visualization tool, especially for newcomers who may need a helping hand with creating charts that adequately communicate their ideas to others!

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Publishing Perspectives at Illinois: A Panel

Join us on Thursday, April 20th 2017, 4 to 5 p.m. in 106 Main Library for an insightful discussion on various opportunities and avenues for publishing here at Illinois!

A panel of experts from the University of Illinois Press, eTexts at Illinois, the Scholarly Commons Undergraduate Research Journals program, and the Illinois Open Publishing Network (University Library) will discuss topics ranging from:

  • advice on submitting a proposal,
  • the process of publishing in journals,
  • creating online textbooks,
  • and open access publishing.

Panelists:
Laurie Matheson, University of Illinois Press
Dawn Durante, University of Illinois Press
Julianne Laut, University of Illinois Press
Clydette Wantland, University of Illinois Press
Harriett Green, University Library
Milind Basole, eTexts @ Illinois
Yury Borukhovich, eTexts @ Illinois
Merinda Hensley, University Library

 

 

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Announcing the Scholarly Commons Internship

If you’re a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign doctoral student in the humanities or social sciences, we have a fantastic opportunity opening up for the 2017-2018 academic year! The Scholarly Commons Internship is a graduate hourly internship open to third year doctoral students. Here is the full listing:

POSITION DESCRIPTION

The Scholarly Commons Internship Program is offering up to two one-­year graduate hourly internships for the 2017-2018 academic year for University of Illinois at Urbana-­Champaign doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences. Students currently in the 3rd year or beyond of their doctoral program who have completed required coursework are eligible to apply. One intern will focus on the digital humanities; the second will focus on the digital humanities or computational social sciences. Interns may work with Library staff outside the Scholarly Commons depending on the projects they pursue during the fellowship period.

Scholarly Commons Interns will be expected to be in-residence approximately ten hours per week. The majority of their time will be allocated to pursuit of research projects proposed by the Intern that draw upon Scholarly Commons and University Library resources and materials. These projects may intersect with the Interns’ dissertation research. Interns also will contribute a select amount of time to Scholarly Commons research support services and assist researchers in the topics and skill areas in which they have expertise. Examples could include teaching a Savvy Researcher workshop, holding scheduled open hours in the Scholarly Commons, or consulting with researchers by appointment.

Graduate fellows will also be assigned one or more “library mentors” from the Scholarly Commons and University Library.

CRITERIA:

  • Open to doctoral students who have completed all coursework
  • Expertise or strongly demonstrated interest in research in the humanities or social sciences
  • Demonstrated interest or experience in digital scholarship
  • Demonstrated skill(s) in computational tools and approaches related to Scholarly Commons resources and services (e.g., statistical analysis in SAS, GIS, Python programming, data visualization, text mining)

APPLICATION MATERIALS:

  • Letter of application
  • Statement of your current or proposed research in digital scholarship and how it will use 
University of Illinois Library and/or Scholarly Commons resources (one page max)
  • Current curriculum vitae

The internship will pay an hourly rate of $20.98 for approximately 10 hours per week during the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters. Apply by May 30, 2017.

Please send application materials to Emilie Staubbs (estaubs [at] illinois [dot] edu).

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about the position or how to apply. Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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Life after I Drive: Setting up a website for yourself or your project!

What happened to the I: Drive?

It’s been retired, everything on it is in read only, the hardware has been left to die and will be dead by January 3rd 2018, and everything will go where these things go when they die (that great server in the sky I suppose).

Always free options:

Weebly, Wix, etc. As we’ve discussed before on this blog, Weebly is one of the easiest to use, including WYSIWYG editor with customization based on dragging and dropping components, and still has a professional look. And to learn more about Weebly and other free website platforms, check out these site builder tutorials from the iSchool!

Are there still hosted options on campus?

Yes!

Basic hosted options on campus:

Google Apps
Don’t have a lot of experience building websites and looking for something really really simple?  Definitely check out Google Sites through your Illinois Google Apps. It is possible to get a hosted sites dot google dot illinois dot edu site/[yoursitename]/[pagename]  for yourself or or your organization. Google Sites has a WYSIWYG editor where you can drag and drop site elements such as text and image boxes as well as  elements from your Illinois Google Apps, such as Google Docs and YouTube videos. With Google Sites you have the option to publish either to the web or to Illinois users. For more information check out https://answers.uillinois.edu/illinois/page.php?id=55049

Reminder: Omeka.net

For all our digital humanists, virtual exhibit creators, and potentially anyone looking to make a snazzy portfolio website, we can set up an Omeka.net account through the Scholarly Commons that has more storage than the default account. To learn more and request a page check out http://www.library.illinois.edu/sc/services/Digital_Humanities/Omeka.html 

Publish @ Illinois.edu  (PIE)

To learn more click here for instructions and advice on using PIE at https://answers.uillinois.edu/illinois/page.php?id=54679

Although you or your group’s site will never reach the absolute stunning magnificence of the Commons Knowledge blog, you too can create a micro-site through WordPress at the University of Illinois. WordPress features a WYSIWYG editor and is fairly easy to learn even with limited programming experience. There is a limited amount of space available to save media, luckily you can attach links to images from Box in order to get around these limits. There are also custom designs available to University of Illinois units, these are especially important for meeting our state’s website accessibility standards! Definitely check out the PIE blog and documentation pages and contact Technology Services for more help.

Setting up a Wiki with Confluence

Need to create a space for members of your team to collaborate on projects or want a site for a course beyond Moodle? Do you have team members from outside of the University of Illinois that you want allowed to contribute to content?  Technology Services can get you set up  with a wiki through Confluence. Check out https://wiki.illinois.edu/wiki/dashboard.action to request and https://wiki.illinois.edu//wiki/display/HELP/Getting+Started+and+Help to learn more and see what one of these wikis looks like in action!

Web services through your college’s IT department:

These sites also provide a lot of information about web resources on campus in general!

More advanced options:

Are you a web developer looking for a server?

Consider looking into the Virtual Server through Technology Services, yes this is a service that costs money and is based on how much space your site uses. However, if you want a more stable hosting solution for the long term this is a great option!

 

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Topic Modeling and the Future of Ebooks

Ebook by Daniel Sancho CC BY 2.0

This semester I’ve had the pleasure of taking a course on Issues in Scholarly Communication with Dr. Maria Bonn at the University of Illinois iSchool. While we’ve touched on a number of fascinating issues in this course, I’ve been particularly interested in JSTOR Labs’ Reimagining the Monograph Project.

This project was inspired by the observation that, while scholarly journal articles have been available in digital form for some time now, scholarly books are now just beginning to become available in this format. Nevertheless, the nature of long form arguments, that is, the kinds of arguments you find in books, differs in some important ways from the sorts of materials you’ll find in journal articles. Moreover, the ways that scholars and researchers engage with books are often different from the ways in which they interact with papers. In light of this, JSTOR Labs has spearheaded an effort to better understand the different ways that scholarly books are used, with an eye towards developing digital monographs that better suit these uses.

Topicgraph logo

In pursuit of this project, the JSTOR Labs team created Topicgraph, a tool that allows researchers to see, at a glance, what topics are covered within a monograph. Users can also navigate directly to pages that cover the topics in which they are interested. While Topicgraph is presented as a beta level tool, it provides us with a clear example of the untapped potential of digital books.

A topic graph for Suburban Urbanites

Topicgraph uses a method called topic modeling, which is used in natural language processing. Topic modeling will examine text, and then create different topics that are discussed in that text based on the terms being used. Terms that are used in proximity to one another at a frequent rate are thought to serve as an indicator that various topics are being discussed.

Users can explore Topicgraph by using JSTOR Labs’ small collection of open access scholarly books that span a number of different disciplines, or by by uploading their own PDFs for Topicgraph to analyze.

If you would like to learn how to incorporate topic modeling or other forms of text analysis into your research, contact the Scholarly Commons or visit us in the Main Library, room 306.

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Spotlight: JSTOR Labs Text Analyzer

JSTOR Labs has recently rolled out a beta version of a JSTOR Text Analyzer. The purpose of the Text Analyzer is different than other text analyzers (such as Voyant). The JSTOR Text Analyzer will mine documents you drop into its easy-to-use interface, and then breaks it down by topics and terms, which it will then search JSTOR with. The result? A list of JSTOR articles that relate to your research topic and help fill your bibliography.

So, how does it work?

You simply drag and drop a file– their demo file is an article named “Retelling the American West in the Museum” –, copy and paste text, or select a file from your computer and input it into the interface. What you drag and drop does not, necessarily, have to be an academic article. In fact, after inputting a relatively benign image for this blog, the Text Analyzer gave me remarkably useful results, relating to blogging and learning, the digital humanities and libraries.

Results from the Commons Knowledge blog image.

After you drop your file into JSTOR, your analysis is broken down into terms. These terms are further broken down into topics, people, locations, and organizations. JSTOR deems which terms it believes are the most important and prioritizes them, and even gives specific weight to the most important terms. However, you can customize all of these options by choosing words from the identified terms to become prioritized terms, adding or deleting prioritized terms, and changing the weight of prioritized terms. For example, here are the automatic terms and results from the demo article:

The automatic terms and results from the demo article.

However, I’m going to remove article’s author from being a prioritized term, add Native Americans and Brazilian art to the prioritized terms, and change the weight of these terms so that the latter two are the most important. This is how my terms and results list will look:

The new terms and results list.

As you can see, the results completely changed!

While the JSTOR Text Analyzer doesn’t necessarily function in ways similar to other text analyzers, its ability to find key terms will help you not only find articles on JSTOR, but use those terms in other databases. Further, it can help you think strategically about search strategies on JSTOR, and see which search terms yield (perhaps unexpectedly) the most useful results for you. So while the JSTOR Text Analyzer is still in beta, it has the potential to be an incredibly useful tool for researchers, and we’re excited to see where it goes from here!

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Certificate in Science Communication!

Are you a graduate student at the University of Illinois studying the sciences? Are you interested in working with the public and developing your skills in communicating your research to wider audiences?

Introducing the Certificate in Science Communication!

This is a new program offered by the 21st Century Scientists Working Group and the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Students can earn this certificate by being an active member of the 21st Century Scientists Working Group, attending science communication conferences, creating a public engagement project and  reflecting on their experiences. Plus this looks like a way to have some of the wonderful things you learn here at Scholarly Commons count towards your diploma.

Learn more at http://21centurysci.com/science-communication-certificate/

 

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The Library’s Eighth Data Purchase Program Round is Accepting Applications!

We’re starting a bit earlier than in past years to help researchers acquire data they need for their research! Through the Library’s Data Purchase Program, the University Library accepts applications from campus researchers to purchase data. All applications will be reviewed by the Library’s Data Discovery and Support committee, which looks for requests which meet the following minimum criteria, in addition to others listed in the full program announcement:

  • The dataset must cost less than $5,000;
  • The dataset must be used for research; and
  • The Library must be able to make the data available for use by everyone at UIUC.

For some examples of past data requests supported by the Data Purchase Program, please explore this list.

The deadline for first consideration is May 26, 2017, but the Committee will consider applications that come in later based on availability of funds and whether the purchase can be completed by June 30, 2018.

If you have questions about the program or need help identifying data for your research, please contact the Scholarly Commons at sc@library.illinois.edu. We look forward to connecting you with the data you need!

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Creating a Professional Website on Weebly

One important step to having a good online scholarly presence is to have your own professional website. Weebly is a fairly easy to use and free content management system that you can use to create a customized page for yourself or a team. It is one of the website builders supported by the iSchool, which you can find more information about at this link.

How to Create a Weebly Website

Step 1) Login to Weebly either by creating a new Weebly account or linking to a Facebook or Gmail account. If this is a professional website think very carefully about whether or not you want this in any way connected to your Facebook (after all, future employers don’t care how much fun you had during spring break or want to see those conspiracy theory articles your uncle keeps sharing).

Step 2) Choose a theme! There used to be a lot more themes available on Weebly but those days are over. You have a couple options for very basic themes that with the addition of some images will help you instantly create a classy portfolio page, and any theme is fair game, though the ones under “Portfolio” and “Personal” and “Blog” are more suited for creating a professional website.

Step 3) You will be prompted to choose your web domain. You can have a free dot weebly site. Try to get some variation on your name as your website, you can also use the name of your company or organization.

Image of mothersagainstbearattacks sign up

Note: as of writing (23 Jan. 2017) this Weebly domain name is still available!

However, if this is too much pressure for now you can start creating your site and won’t have to really settle down on a name until you publish the site.

If inspiration strikes before that go to Settings >  Site Address

Step 4) Adding pages. Whichever theme you choose likely comes with Home, Blog, Contact pages that you can click on different elements of to edit. However, to add a new page or a certain type of page:

circled

Step 5) Customizing Pages. For simple edits, simply click on what you want to replace and add new content. To add new content, there’s a sidebar full of options! Even more if you add apps to your site or pay for Weebly. Simply drag and drop and arrange the content types on your site.

As an example, we’ll create a contact page.

If you want people to reach out to you it’s great to have a page where they can do that. We do not recommend writing your email out on pages because that’s a good way for spambots to find you. However, Weebly makes it easy to add a contact form: simply Click “Build” and drag and drop the contact form.

Editing contact information for Weebly contact form

If you have a physical location where you tend to be such as an office (lucky you!) or a coffee shop that pretty much is your office, then you can add a Google map as well to show people what building it is in. Though if your office is in the Armory (or certain parts of Main Library for that matter) you should probably include more specific instructions so that people don’t spend years trying to find it. You can also link your LinkedIn profile to your site by dragging and dropping that icon as well.

And don’t forget to include your ORCID, (if you haven’t created one yet, we suggest you check out this ORCID information)!

Special note: Adding stock images

Of course, your professional website should include at least one picture of you in a professional setting. Weebly has a number of stock images you can choose from that can look very nice. But what if you want something a bit more customized? For your professional website, make sure that you have proper permissions for any images that you use! Copyright infringement is very unprofessional. To learn more about finding copyright friendly stock images check out the Finding and Using Images LibGuide. And please feel free to take a look at our Scholarly Commons copyright resources. For more specific questions, you can reach out to Assistant Professor & Copyright Librarian Sara Benson.

Further Resources:

Still confused about Online Scholarly Presence? We have not one but TWO LibGuides to help you understand: Online Scholarly Presence Seminar and Create & Manage an Online Scholarly Presence.

Here is a video from a few years ago explaining more in general about creating a professional website, hosted by the University of Illinois.

 

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Pinterest Pages for Researchers

The Pinterest logo.

When one thinks of Pinterest, they tend to associate it with work night crock pot recipes and lifehacks that may or may not always work. But Pinterest can also be a great place to store and share links and information relating to your academic discipline that is widely accessible and free. In this post, we’ll look at how threegroups use Pinterest in different ways to help their mission, then go through some pros and cons of using Pinterest for academic endeavors

Examples of Groups Using Pinterest

A Digital Tool Box for Historians

A Digital Tool Box for Historians is exactly what it says on the tin. On the date this post was written, A Digital tool Box for Historians boasts 124 pins, each a link to a digital resource that can help historians. Resources range from free-to-use websites to pay-to-use software and everything in-between. It is an easy to follow board that is made for easy browsing.

Europeana

Europeana is a website dedicated to collecting and sharing cultural artifacts and art from around the world. Their Pinterest page serves as a virtual museum with pins grouped into thematic boards, as if they were galleries. With over a hundred and fifty boards, their subject matter ranges from broad themes (such as their Birds and Symbolism board), artistic medium (such as their Posters board, or specific artistic movements or artists (such as their Henri Verstijnen – Satirical Drawings board). Pinterest users can then subscribe to favorite boards and share pieces that they find moving, thus increasing the dissemination of pieces that could remain static if only kept on the Europeana website.

Love Your Data Week

Sponsored by — you guessed it — Love Your Data Week, the Love Your Data Week Pinterest board serves as a community place to help institutions prepare for Love Your Data Week. Resources shared on the Love Your Data Week board can either be saved to an institution’s own Love Your Data board, or used on their other social media channels to spark discussion.

Pros and Cons of Pinterest

  • Pros
    • Can spread your work to a non-academic audience
    • Free
    • Easily accessible
    • Easy to use
    • Brings content from other platforms you may use together
    • Visually appealing
    • Well-known
  • Cons
    • Poor tagging and search systems
    • Interface can be difficult to use, especially for users with disabilities
    • Content gets “buried” very quickly
    • Poor for long-format content
    • Non-academic reputation

Whether it’s a gallery, tool kit, or resource aggregation, Pinterest shows potential for growth in academic and research circles. Have you used Pinterest for academics before? How’d it go? Any tips you’d like to give? Let us know in the comments!

 

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