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The Researcher's Toolkit

The Researcher's Toolkit is a technology workshop series designed to help Northwestern researchers improve scholarly productivity and efficiency in the areas of programming, data analysis, scientific computing, data management, publication skills, and GIS. Workshops are open to all members of the Northwestern community.  They are aimed at a beginner level accessible to researchers from all fields and backgrounds.

This workshop series is hosted in collaboration with the Northwestern University Library and Northwestern University Information Technology.  All workshops are held on the Evanston campus in Mudd Library. There is no cost to attend, but please register

Feel free to bring your lunch with you!

Winter 2019 Workshops

Copyright and Fair Use in Practice

Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 12-1:30pm, Mudd Hall, Research Computing Services Suite 2220
Instructor: Liz Hamilton, Northwestern University Libraries
Copyright is a growing concern among researchers, who may have questions like "When can I use someone else’s copyrighted work?" or "What rights do I have in my own research?" This workshop will cover basic copyright principles, as well as taking a deeper dive into how exceptions to the law like fair use apply in an academic setting. Participants are encouraged to bring examples of texts, images, and other copyrighted materials they would like to incorporate into their work for the group to discuss.  No laptop required.



Finding Chemical Information: Substances and Reactions

Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 12-1pm, Mudd Library, Small Classroom 2124
Instructor: Elsa Alvaro, Northwestern University Libraries
This session teaches substance and reaction searching techniques in Reaxys and SciFinder. You will learn how to build effective structure, substructure and reaction queries, and analyze and refine your answer sets. Some of the techniques that we will discuss include controlling substitution (defining generics and R groups, locking atoms and rings, adding variable points of attachment), mapping atoms, and forbidding transformations. We recommend basic familiarity with chemical structure searching. Please bring your laptop.



Data Storage Options

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 12-1:30pm, Mudd Library, Large Classroom 2210
Instructor: Jenni Hartman, Research Computing Services
Data storage is a requirement for most researchers, but with so many available options, it’s hard to know which one is the right type for your data and research. This short workshop will give an overview of the data storage options at Northwestern, covering storage types, use cases, costs, and security & compliance considerations. No laptop needed. More details. 



Scholarly Blogging with Markdown, Jekyll, and GitHub

Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 12-1:30pm, Mudd Library, Large Classroom 2210
Instructor: Chris Diaz, Northwestern University Libraries
GitHub is a free online platform for sharing source code for computational research, open source software, and collaborative coding projects in a version controlled environment. GitHub users can also use the platform for hosting personal blogs, technical documentation, and project websites. These websites are built using Markdown, a simple plain-text formatting language, and Jekyll, an open source static site generator. This interactive workshop will cover the basics of Markdown, Jekyll, and GitHub in a scholarly or scientific context.  Please bring your laptop.



Introduction to Accessing and Using Social Science Data

Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 12-1pm, Mudd Library, Small Classroom 2124
Instructor: Kelsey Rydland, Northwestern University Libraries
There is a vast amount of open and freely available social science data for use in your research. In this session we examine the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and National Historical Geographical Information System (NHGIS) resources and how you can put the thousands of datasets available through these resources to use using a range of analytical tools such as R, STATA, or geospatial software (QGIS or ArcGIS).

ICPSR is the world's largest archive of digital social science data; they archive many surveys and exit polls. NHGIS provides free online access to summary statistics and GIS boundary files for U.S. censuses from 1790 through the present, as well as other geographical data files and surveys. We will cover how to download sample data from each website, as well as how to load that downloaded data into either statistical software (R & STATA) or GIS software (ArcGIS & QGIS). Please bring your laptop.



Literary Analysis: Introduction

Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 12-1:30pm, Mudd Library, Small Classroom 2124
Instructor: Phil Burns, Research Computing Services
Text analysis is fundamental task in both the humanities and journalism. Traditional approaches to generating concordances, determining text topics, and mapping locations can now be performed speedily using freely available software such as Tapor, WordHoard, and TextServices that do not require extensive programming skills. We’ll look at several tools to see how they can help automate the analysis of literary texts, as well as blog and newspaper articles. We’ll also look at locating digital copies of literary texts you might want to analyze. Please bring your laptop. More details.




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Last Updated: 25 January 2019

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