I’m back in Grad School, seeking a second master’s degree, after a 30-year absence.
Man how things have changed.
Of course ,the biggest difference is in the tools I now have for researching and writing.
Back in 1986, when I started my first degree in speech communication, research was done in the library by going through the card catalog and magazine indexes. Quaint, isn’t it. And I wrote my graduate thesis in an Apple IIc. Years of hard word lived on a couple of floppy disks that looked like a pair of Goth-Inspired Hallmark cards to celebrate a total solar eclipse–dark, mysterious and ominous.
Now everything is backed up on an automatic hard-drive, in the cloud, and if I lose it all I can just ask Donald Trump or the Russian Embassy for another copy. Nice, I guess. The latest version of Word, not “Word Juggler,” allows me to do amazing things and have the results look better than they deserve.
But the best thing of all are the tools for more effective researching and cataloging of all the information I find. No longer do I have to lug around or shelve stacks of photocopies, I have many PDFs that are the fruits of searches in academic databases. Of course, Google is handy, especially Google Scholar. But all these tools mean that I now have way too much information.
I am happy owner of this software, and it allows me to download my library searches, have the citations correctly formatted–usually, you still have to double check them, and upload the PDFs and any notes I make all in one central–backed-up-in-the-cloud place.
It’s heaven. This is all te more sweet because, as I write, I can just click a button and insert a citation, and–get this–a bibliography is generated on the fly. Amazing.
I’ve long though about taking on a research project and aspiring to do the sort of cool things Malcom Gladwell does. But how, I wondered, would I ever keep it all straight?
Now I know–Endnotes.
So, you don’t have to be in grad school to tackle a book-length project, and buying your own copy isn’t horribly expensive, considering what Word costs.
Check it out. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am. Here’s the link. http://endnote.com/
And if you are strapped for cash, there is a sort-free alternative, Zotero, https://www.zotero.org/. It only starts costing you when your data files get over a certain length. I went with Endnotes because it seems to be the gold standard for many scholars. YMMV.