Thing 17 : Research Tools

Librarians had evolved in our roles so much that it is no longer just knowing and providing access to information resources but also the importance of knowing and showing users how to use tools to manage their information effectively. We are pleased to have Mr Chia Yew Boon (SG) from Nanyang Technological University Libraries to share his insights with us. Make sure you click all tabs (Discover, Explore, and Thinking Points) to get to the end of the lesson.

“I have read that somewhere …” Have this occurred to you? It certainly happened all too often to me and my solution is to use a note taking tool such as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote.



What’s great about Evernote is that I am to grab information from different media – I could upload pdf document, capture part of a website, record an audio clip or take an image with my mobile phone etc. and put them in a single repository so that I could refer to them easily later. You can even tweet to or forward important emails to Evernote! I can tag the items or use the Evernote search to organise and search for my content systematically. To date, there are more than 100 million Evernote users.

More importantly, there are more than 30,000 Evernote developers worldwide who create useful add-on software for Evernote. (Read this interesting collaboration between Moleskine and Evernote). In a recent interview by WSJ (4 Apr 2014), Evernote CEO Phil Libin was “enthusiastic about the potential for wearables, saying that Evernote is working on ways to help people be productive on such devices.

Below are some useful links to get you started :

Another useful type of research tool is the online citation manager (also known as bibliographic management tool or reference management software) such as Zotero, EndNote and RefWorks. Such tools are popular for two reasons –


Creating a resource list:
After you have identified relevant articles/sources in library catalogues, databases and world wide web for your research, the citation manager downloads and extracts the bibliographic information of the articles, thus creating a searchable compilation of research materials and also providing the proper citations for these articles. To make it more useful, I would often give a summary of an article, attach additional notes (eg. a powerpoint presentation given by the author), add a few tags and link the article to the full text pdf. As a result, I can easily create a personal catalogue of the articles which I have read!

Sharing sources:
I can set permissions to share my compilation of resources with a group of project members or open it to everyone. In place of LibGuides, this allows me to create a good subject guide at zero cost. Moreover, I have activated a plugin to integrate my Zotero resource list into my blog automatically.

Below are some useful links to get you started :


Created by the start-up Shazino, Papership is a iPhone and iPad client for Mendeley or Zotero that allows users to browse through their reference collections on their mobile devices. It comes with PDF annotation tools that help you to emphasize interesting parts in your notes or stored articles. Most importantly, Papership incorporates API to display Altmetric donuts next to the article titles. Altmetrics (also known as Alternative Metrics) is the BUZZ word now in academic as an alternative metrics in tracking and measuring research impact via online mentions captured in social media like twitter, Facebook, social bookmarking and referencing tools, etc. is one of the many companies that had sprung up to create tools to help understand these metrics.

Not familiar with altmetrics? Read my introduction slides on what is Alternative Metrics.



Some very practical uses for Evernote are –

  1. Create a to do list
  2. Use the reminder feature to keep track of projects
  3. Scan and capture the business cards collected
  4. Install Evernote Web Clipper browser extension and save interesting text, links and images with a single click
  5. Share your Evernote content with other users. Here Colleen Young shares out her Evernote notebook containing tips on using Evernote for teaching
  6. Read Jennifer Carey’s sharing on how she teaches her students to use Evernote to organize a variety of media for some type of presentation or research project
  7. Read Greg Clinton, the Wandering Academic’s sharing on how he uses Evernote to write a paper with table of content
  1. Read Rebecca Onion’s course notes for Building your Zotero Library
  2. Try Zotfile is useful for interacting with PDF files and Zotero
  3. Oregon State University Library have some excellent Zotero tutorials availableIntroduction to Zotero  and Advanced Zotero

Thinking Points

  • How can you use these things in your library? Are your clients using them already?
  • Or do you need to show them how?
  • Should you create how-to guides?
  • Could you share notebooks with clients? And colleagues as a collaborative alternative to google docs?
  • Perhaps your library team could use Evernote Business?
  • Maybe you should capture mental ‘post-its’, or create ‘to do’ lists, by tweeting or DMing @myEN?

Remix from the original 23 Mobile things :
23 Mobile Things – Thing 17
ANZ 23 Mobile things – Thing 17

Follow Mylee Joseph’s board Evernote and Zotero on Pinterest.

Chia Yew Boon Chia Yew Boon is the Deputy Director, New Media Group, and Head, Humanities & Social Sciences Library. He actively tracks emerging technologies which are relevant to the higher education sector and spearheads social media initiatives and mobile projects. Collaborating closely with the faculty, technical staff and other users, he manages the blogs@NTU platform to support the teaching, research, community building and marketing needs of the users. He also represents the library in campus wide projects such as the Cool Campus Implementation Committee and the Blue Ribbon Commission Subcommittee on Classroom of Tomorrow.

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