Faster Data Entry: Atext

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So just thought I’d share a time saving app that has helped me with a number of tasks including data entry. For work I’m currently in the process of entering our 300+ interviews into Refworks so they can be easily referenced and searchable for researchers. Sound like a long and monotonous task? Well it is. It involves typing in a lot of the same data into a lot of black spaces. Luckily I got a hold of the right app at the right time. 

Atext is a cheap text expansion app that gets the job done. I have to enter in common phrases like “University of Florida” and “Oral History Interview” for each interview and where I would have had to toggle back and forth between copying and pasting, I now type “/uf” and “/o” and the text fills in automatically. The app is easily customizable, syncs with dropbox, and you can even insert images and formatted text. I strongly recommend investing in a text expansion app for anyone doing data entry, at $5 it’s more than I wanted to spend but saves me a lot time and has proven to be well worth the price. You can test it out for 15 days free of charge. Windows users have other options as well.

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Organizing Qualitative Data

Many of you all are probably starting to collect qualitative data if you haven’t already. One of the biggest problems we face, whether it’s in anthropology, psychology, or any other social science, is how to organize, code, and database all of that information. Today, Austin Kocher, a PhD student in Geography at The Ohio State University,  offers his method of qualitative data organization:

“I used Filemaker Pro to build a simple database that met the research demands. Filemaker Pro was a good fit because it has a low learning curve and can handle multiple file formats, including Word documents, PDFs, and audio files. As a result, I could track everything I needed for each research participant on one screen.”

The software and others like it, such as DevonThink Pro, allow him to create a database of all his contacts and the relevant information collected from interviews.

FilemakerPro

“I began by creating a database, which is like filing cabinet for everything associated with my project. Next, I created tables, which are like hanging file folders: they hold similar types of information in a standard format … I created fields for each kind of information I needed from organizations – name, address, phone number, etc. – and created a layout. Finally, I created a new record for each organization as needed.”

For the full article, complete with helpful screenshots, check out the post on the Prof Hacker Blog.

Goals to Live By

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Summer is here and it’s time to do everything you said you were going to do last semester but didn’t get to (not really). While you probably won’t get to half the stuff you wanted to do last semester, it’s a good idea to write out your goals for this summer so you can at least measure your progress. I’ve included a list of my goals for summer which will probably inform my future blog posts.

1. Increase productivity – download and test out new software like mind mapping, text expansion, RefWorks, DevonTHINK, Wunderlist

2. Set up a blog – already done. check it out!

3. Prepare a paper for publication

4. Design a course: Anthropology of Slavery

5. Study Amharic – my main goal this summer

6. Finally establish a gym/workout routine (or at least learn more about what I should be doing).

7. Start writing the dissertation

8. Learn basic statistics 

9. Learn basic coding – check out codeacademy.com

Post your goals in the Comments!

Headed to New Orleans, Louisiana

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. I’ve known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
—Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers
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This summer, I will be blogging as I conduct my preliminary dissertation research in New Orleans, Louisiana. I am extremely excited about the chance to collect some ethnographic data in one of my favorite cities in the world. New Orleans is a city of extreme contradictions and jarring juxtapositions, and has been since its founding by the French Mississipi Company in 1718. The city where “les bon temps rouler” is also a city marked by incredible inequality, poverty, and much human suffering, as shown after Hurricane Katrina and in the recent shooting of 19 people during a second line Mother’s Day parade. This is what draws me to the city — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I remember the first time I visited N.O, it was November 2010. I was in town for a conference, and I searched for the New Orleans city bus schedule online on my last morning there. After finding the nearest route, I walked from the Superdome Holiday Inn to a bus stop three blocks away, to catch the city bus #88 to get to an area that seemed close enough to the Lower 9th, a New Orleans suburb called Arabi. During my bus ride, I could get a sense of the topography of New Orleans, a truly remarkable city by any urban planning measures. Its remarkable that people have attempted to live on such flood prone areas for hundreds of years, forging intimate, daily connections to water, particularly in the lower lying littoral zones where may of the urban poor of New Orleans lived. In Where Rivers Meet the Sea: The Political Ecology of Water, Stephanie Kane argues that the infrastructure of coastal cities (like New Orleans, the largest port in the United States based on total cargo volume), are places where the power of the state is made manifest through its confrontation with nature. This is where lines are drawn to demarcate those who are to be excluded and forgotten (Kane 2005). I got off the bus in Arabi, and I walked a few blocks northwest to reach my final destination. I noticed that the closer I got to the Lower 9th, the less noise I heard. The chirping of birds began to disappear, the sounds of cars and buses became more distant, there was no wind to cause a rustling of leaves, or flapping of shutters. The only sounds were my footsteps. As I reached the top of the road and looked out onto a panoramic view of the Lower 9th, I saw the absolute, unmitigated destruction. Leveled houses, homes that were leaning as if their foundations had been bent, dead, fallen trees, upturned cars, spray paint across the front doors, faded pictures on the ground. I expected to see cranes, tractors, some vestige of infrastructure, but there was nothing but chaos, like Katrina had happened last week. There were no birds, no children playing, no doors slamming, no wind, no cars, no life at all, except myself. For the first time in my life, I understood what deafening silence was.

My own research is interested in urban planning and education policy in New Orleans. You may not know this, but shortly after Hurricane Katrina, the majority of public schools in the city were transformed into charter schools. My own research agenda is to understand out how this charter school system plays out in a city marked by such segregation and inequality. This summer, I will be conducting interviews with some school administrators, local parents, and collecting some spatial data at school construction sites. I’m still formulating my research questions and hypotheses, so I hope that the feedback from this blog will assist me in that process, and maybe help my colleagues with similar questions and issues in their summer research projects.

References

Kane, Stephanie C. 2012 Where Rivers Meet the Sea: the Political Ecology of Water. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Welcome

Hey everyone,

Welcome to the official “UF BGSO Research Blog: Summer 2013.” Since we’re all splitting up this summer for research and fieldwork we figured it would be a good idea to use this as a means to stay connected. Feel free to post whatever’s on your mind, documents you want feedback on, opinions on articles, project’s your working on, etc. You are free to post and comment freely. For your first post, introduce yourself, where you’re going to be this summer, and what you will be studying/researching.

Justin D.

Feel free to direct any questions about the blog to lilras01@aol.com