PLN Day 42.5: Papers: “We are all librarians now.”

23 02 2010

This week Scott McDonald, one of Curriculum and Instruction’s superstar Professors, gave a talk to the faculty about RSS feeds and Papers.

For research, he uses Google Reader to update him about any changes to the search terms he gave various search engines.  When a new article comes out on some search terms, say, “The Science of a Perfect Tamale” (not his, really — I’m just hungry for good Mexican) he’s covered. My own wife, among the most graceful learners I have ever seen, has been using Google Reader and search terms for years.

Papers ($42 30-day trial period), is a way of indexing, spotlighting and organizing PDFs.

I suppose its main use is as a file management system, though I currently have found it to be a dandy way to browse and acquire journal articles.  When you have hundreds of PDFs on various subjects floating around your hard drive, then you can import them into Papers.  Once they appear, it matches them to the bibilographic information, or you spend an hour manually entering the ones that don’t match right away.

But then, once you use JSTOR or Google Scholar, enter in the search terms, it comes up with all sorts of lists, all beautifully indexed.  I don’t know why, but I have always hated going and finding professional journal articles, but yesterday in fifteen minutes I loaded up on dozens of really interesting articles, not only for myself, but for the students at the PDS.  This makes my computer a beautiful, custom-made library of hundreds of scholarly articles pertaining to my interests.  Even better, I can find said article in ten seconds or less, and since I am frequently in the business of playing intellectual concierge to my students as they negotiate whatever inquiry they happen to be into at given moment, this is a serious plus.

Did I mention?  Scott’s a Science-Education guy.  The stuff I’ve been doing for forty-two days, he’s been doing at least forty-two months.  His very good Blog McEducation is compulsively readable.  By any measure, statistical, rumor, what have you, he’s among the best teachers in town, in a town full of teachers.  If he were an English/Education guy, he’d be perfect.

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3 responses

25 02 2010
Anne

Now if there were just some Mac application that could come into our home and match/sort/link all the crap we have accumulated there, just as Papers did for my hard drive!!

2 03 2010
Eric Yingling

Jason,
The Papers application seems like it could be one of the most useful on-line education tools I have heard of or come across. I, like you, absolutely hate searching for scholarly articles using databases/search engines. I know how to do it, and can always find excellent peer reviewed sources, but I just hate starting those searches and keeping track of all of the citations via e-mail. This Papers application definitely seems like something worth looking into. Thanks for the post!

-Eric Yingling

3 03 2010
Scott

Jason,

Thanks for all the high praise. It is fun to be a bit of a geek about this stuff, but I have to say I am amazed at how the tools have developed. Maybe next time I will get to watch you do a presentation on how you are organizing your digital life.

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