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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. All workshops are held on the Evanston campus at Mudd Hall, room 2210 or room 2124. Unless otherwise specified, snacks will be provided. There is no cost to attend.

This workshop series is hosted in collaboration with the Northwestern University Library and Northwestern University Information Technology.

Spring 2018 Topics

Advanced Literature Searching

Wednesday, April 4th, 3-4pm; NUL-Mudd Library Small Classroom 2124
Instructor: Becca Greenstein, STEM Librarian, Northwestern University Libraries
Literature searches are a key component of publishing research. Come learn efficient strategies to conduct searches that can save you hours of time and lots of frustration. We will cover search strategies, methods, and the appropriate databases for use in different subject areas. We will also discuss the nuts and bolts of literature searching: using filters, database fields, Boolean operators, truncation, and citation analysis. Participants are asked to bring a laptop if possible.


Data Manipulation with Excel

Wednesday, April 18th, 3:30 - 4:30pm; NUL-Mudd Library Small Classroom 2124
Instructor: Trang Nguyen, Graduate Assistant, Social Science Data Services, Northwestern University Libraries
Have you ever wondered how you can clean, manipulate data, and make them look as neat as possible in order to run the analyses you wanted? In this workshop, we will rediscover the many cool techniques you can use to manipulate data using Excel. We will discuss more advanced function writing, various look-up functions, and other useful techniques. Bring your laptop to follow along.


Data Organization in Spreadsheets: Best Practices

Wednesday, May 2nd, 3-4:30pm; NUL-Mudd Library Large Classroom 2210
Instructor: Christina Maimone, Senior Computational Social Sciences Specialist, Research Computing Services
Do you collect or store data in spreadsheets? Do you work with others who do? Then this workshop is for you. We'll discuss best practices for formatting and organizing data in spreadsheets to avoid errors, make data files ready for import into statistical software, improve consistency, and save your colleagues and your future self headaches and trouble. We'll look at examples of spreadsheets to discuss ways they could create problems for researchers and discover ways to improve them. You may want to bring a laptop, but a computer isn't necessary for this workshop.


Intro to Visualization

Wednesday, May 16th, 3-4:30pm; NUL-Mudd Library Large Classroom 2210
Instructor: Frank Elavsky, Data Visualization Specialist, Research Computing Services
This interactive, fun tutorial is focused on best practices when visualizing quantitative data. The participants first will be given an overview of what "visual literacy" is, as well as some important terms and concepts related to visualization. Then the participants interact and follow along as they figure out how to identify 'bad' charts and graphs fix them to make them more effective. This workshop is geared towards anyone who wants to communicate their data and leave a meaningful impact on their audience or anyone who is curious about how to design effective visual communication for data. The participants are expected to bring their own laptops and have Microsoft Excel (or a comparable spreadsheet program) installed. There will be some hands-on visualization building in this course!


Research on the Go: Accessing Library Resources via Mobile Devices

Wednesday, May 30th, 3-4pm; NUL-Mudd Library Small Classroom 2124
Instructors: John Hernandez, Web & Mobile Services Librarian, Northwestern University Libraries
Anne Marie Sticksel, User Spaces Coordinator, Northwestern University Libraries
Mobile devices increasingly offer options for doing your research on the go. Bring your mobile device, and we will highlight useful apps to aid your research productivity and help you efficiently access the library's electronic resources from anywhere. We will offer some useful tips for making the most of mobile access and help troubleshoot problems if needed. Have a favorite mobile research app? Come and tell us about it!



Select Past Topics

Strategies and Tools for Managing Your Scholarly Identity

Effectively managing your scholarly identity can make you and your work more accessible and ensure that you are represented the way that you intend. This session will cover the Northwestern University supported profiling systems with an emphasis on ORCID and Northwestern Scholars. During this session participants will learn how to automatically populate their ORCID record from existing citation services and gain insight into the methods for refining your profiles to broaden the reach of your scholarship.

Resources for Text Mining and Analysis

Are you interested in creating a novel data set for your research? Is there a collection of text documents with information you'd like to use? This workshop will help you learn about 1) open source and library databases containing text documents that you may not know about, and 2) how these documents can be processed, and information extracted from them, to create new data sets and ways of understanding the data. We'll be discussing possibilities for developing new research topics or supplementing your existing research with new types of data. Library and research computing staff will discuss the support available for researchers looking to incorporate collections of documents into their research.

Introduction to Version Control and Git

A version control system is a useful tool that keeps track of changes to files, including code and documents. These systems are also crucial for collaborating with other people and merging changes while you work on the same files. Git is a popular modern version control system that is widely used, free, extremely fast and very capable. Come learn the basics of using git for version control and collaboration.

Web Fundamentals

This is geared toward an audience that wants to learn what layers comprise a website, from HTML to CSS and even Javascript. The course is designed as a "hello world" introduction to web development; we deconstruct a page down to it's basic elements. We dig into the console and I outline several different ways to accomplish basic website design and interactivity development. I also show how useful browser developer tools are, digging into the element inspector, console, and properties inspector.

ICPSR: Resources and Services

ICPSR, a data archive for the social and behavioral sciences, is a core resource for quantitative (and increasingly for qualitative) researchers. This workshop will highlight the resources and services available to you through Northwestern's ICPSR membership (maintained by the University Libraries). NU students, faculty, and staff have access to raw data from more than 10,000 studies, support for teaching with quantitative data, training in statistical methodologies and data management through the annual Summer Program, and a repository for sharing datasets for secondary analysis by other researchers.

Starting a Scholarly Journal

Learn everything you need to know to start your own scholarly journal. This workshop will provide an overview of the scholarly publishing process for online journals, including governance structures, aims & scope, peer-review, publishing platforms, access models, discovery services, and assessing impact. Free resources available to Northwestern affiliates for journal publishing will be introduced.

Introduction to the Command Line

This workshop will teach you how to use a command line terminal with the Bash shell to list, access, create, move, and copy directories and files on your computer or a remote system. These skills are essential for users accessing remote systems like Quest or installing open source software and packages on their own systems.

Sharing Your Research and Data with Arch

Grant funding agencies and journal publishers increasingly require data sets to be archived and publicly available online. The open science movement advocates for greater transparency in research methodology to address problems with reproducibility in the social and life sciences. Conference presentations, lectures, unpublished papers, blog posts, and other web content suffer link-rot or are otherwise lost in the digital ether. Arch is a self-deposit research and data repository designed for faculty and students to preserve and share scholarly materials. Arch is free to use and is supported by the Northwestern University Libraries.

Introduction to LaTeX

Do you get tired of formatting your documents? LaTeX is a typesetting program where you write in a plain text environment. It includes features to create production/publication quality technical and scientific documents from the plain text content. The LaTeX interpreter formats the spacing, equations, graphics, tables, references, and other elements throughout your documents with simple commands. This introductory workshop will cover basic formatting commands for the text, equations, tables, and figures. Graphical user interfaces for personal and collaborative LaTeX writing, such as LyX and Overleaf will also be introduced.

Introduction to GIS

GIS is software that displays and analyzes information related to a geographical location. The power of GIS is it's ability examine a wide variety of data in various combinations to understand the interrelationship between it. This workshop will introduce you to Esri ArcGIS Desktop software as well as ArcGIS Online web mapping to show you a range of ways that researchers can make use of GIS analysis in their research. We will also discuss the GIS software and services available at Northwestern University Libraries.

Network Analysis Using ArcGIS Online

Interested in doing spatial analysis without having the burden of learning a new software package? Want some simple ways of answering common spatial problems? ArcGIS Online is an application that runs on both Windows and MacOS and can be used to quickly and easily help you do things like find locations, create hot spots, drive-time areas or other types network analysis. This presentation provides an overview of the spatial analysis capabilities within ArcGIS Online. No previous experience necessary.

Data Management

Many Federal and private funding agencies now require a Data Management Plan (DMP) with every funding request.  This session will provide an overview of DMP requirements. It will also review questions to consider when creating a DMP and provide guidance for drafting a DMP.


Last Updated: 7 May 2018

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