Let’s Make it Easier-There’s an App for That!

As we all know technology is part of our lifestyle in some form, shape, or fashion. With being a student, technology is most helpful provided you allow it to be. Since I am user of technology for the most part, I still had to make adjustments during my doctoral studies. When I started my program in 2008, I was unaware of the tools/apps there were available to make my life easier. There were the usual Endnotes (free from my school), Zotero, and RefWorks (all web-based) that was used for bibliographies and article tracking. At that particular time that was ok but as I advanced in the program those really didn’t work for me or I was just stuck in my “own way” of doing things.

At the time I had a “system” that I devised to keep track of articles via printing them out, on my desktop, and email. Yes, I know archaic at best but it worked for me. I downloaded the articles and put them in a folder via my desktop/email and they were labeled according to subject matter. I liked to take notes on the articles hence; I had to print them out, talk about calling the Tree Police I would be in BIG trouble <lol>. Then I discovered Dropbox (web-based & mobile) and EUREKA, I could move this mess of articles to a “cloud” and have access anytime. Now once again, there was no iPad at the time so I literally lugged these articles around (great upper body strength).

When the iPad came out I was sooo excited (including the fact I love gadgets) so I could open my articles on my iPad, read, highlight, etc. via an app-PDF. Now I will fess up that I am an avid MAC/Apple person so this is from that perspective but most of the apps discussed are applicable to PC as well and/or have an equivalent. Also, I’m sort of an app/software “junkie” so I have a lot and use a few or the same ones all the time. I will indicate if the app is only applicable to Mac. Most apps can be used on smartphones and tablets (Mac & PC) for they have come a long way.

For organization I sort of used OmniFocus and Devonthink both of these are very powerful and have a bit of a learning curve. If you invest in these (~39.99 and up, look for student discount) make sure you take the time to see if it is for you (free 14 trial period), and if it is make sure you use it. As I stated earlier, reading articles on an iPad or tablet is a heck of a lot easier than lugging around the actual paper. The app I used was PDF Reader (Mac) but was introduced to GoodReader (Mac) and what a great app. GoodReader works with Dropbox and allows one to make folders, annotate, etc. Evernote is another good app if you do not want to spend a lot of $$$, and it works on mobile/desktop, synch across devices, allows for sharing with others, web clipping, and a whole lot of other stuff (also has a premium subscription). Then there is the Google suite that has a lot of interactive tools as well but I’m not a fan of them.

For conducting the interviews, transcribing, and analysis I used the following items. Interviews-Skype and Tape-A-Call (iPhone), Transcribe-Dragon Speak (big learning curve), Analysis-HyperResearch (Mac) but most folks use NVivo or MAXQDA, which was not available for Mac (unless you used Bootcamp or Parallels) when I needed it and now it is. Now some of you still do things manually and will not make the digital switch but if you are always on the “go” and willing to step out and try something new, you might want to think about trying at least one item. Take advantage of student discounts that these companies give for it is quite a bit cheaper than the full price. Also, look for a trial period for some of these software companies and apps offer these to introduce their product.

Here is a link (http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/apps.html) that lists quite a few apps, “Mobile and Cloud Qualitative Research Apps”. I am a QualGirl so I am not familiar with apps for quantitative research but still look at the apps for they can be used for many things. So get your Geek on!! TTFN!!