Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sound applications in Engineering

Last semester, I presented during the colloquium of the School of Engineering and Sciences of USFQ. The topic of my talk was applications of sound in engineering.

Even though there are multiple uses of sound in engineering, most engineering schools do not offer acoustic engineering as a career. In this presentation, I show the vast variety of applications of sound. We start with the architectural acoustics, discussing how different buildings with different uses require a different treatment of sound. I showed a fascinating TEDx talk about how to design rooms that have unique acoustic features. Then, I made the jump to the applications of sound in civil engineering, with as an example of how better asphalt mixes can be used for noise reduction. Finally, I brought the topic to my field, bridge engineering. Here, we see different non-destructive testing methods that use sound waves (or other types of waves) to look inside a material of a bridge. We talked about acoustic emission measurements, a way of listening to what happens inside a bridge when it is loaded. Finally, I discussed how we use these type of measurements during load testing of bridges, and showed the example of the collapse test of the Ruytenschildt Bridge.

You can find the slides of this presentation here:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What planning tools are most popular?

I recently ran a poll to identify if digital or analog planners are more popular. The winner of the poll is the digital planner.

Over the years, I have moved from using an analog planner for everything, to a hybrid solution with my daily appointments in an analog planner and longer-term planning in a digital planner, to a fully digital approach. By now, I use Google calendar for my weekly template, and fill in every day what I will be working on during which time block and add all appointments. In addition to that, I use ToDoist to set reminders for myself to follow up with emails that I sent out, to identify the tasks that I want to tick off my list on a daily basis, and to sync tasks with my pomodoro app.

You can find the poll and its wake below:

Thursday, July 5, 2018

PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: Measuring your service efforts as a reviewer through Publons

This post is part of the series PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: posts written for the Dutch academic career network AcademicTransfer, your go-to resource for all research positions in the Netherlands.

These posts are sponsored by AcademicTransfer, and tailored to those of you interested in pursuing a research position in the Netherlands.

If these posts raise your interest in working as a researcher in the Netherlands, even better - and feel free to fire away any questions you might have on this topic!

As you reach the end of your PhD years, you may be invited as a reviewer for scientific journals for the first time. If you have never been asked to review a paper, and feel ready to take on the task, you can follow the recommendations of Dr. Cheplygina in this post. Once you are invited to write the review, you can follow the procedure that I recommend for writing a review of a paper.

But what do you do after you have finished reviewing a paper? How can you keep track of your efforts as a reviewer?

The first thing you can do, is list on your full curriculum vitae which journals you are reviewing for. You can add this information in the section with your service appointments. But then again, there are a few drawbacks to this approach. First of all, by simply listing the journals, somebody reviewing your CV may not know if you reviewed one paper ever for the journal you mentioned, or if you review one paper monthly for this journal. Some journals send you a certificate with the number of papers you reviewed for them in the last year as a token of their appreciation, but for many journals it may even be difficult to prove that you review for them. And since nowadays in some cases you need to be able to provide proof of every single element on your CV, you may need a good system to confirm that you reviewed for a certain journal, and to keep track of the journals you review for and the number of papers you reviewed for them.

Enter Publons!

Publons is a service you can use to get an overview of your service efforts as a reviewer. Here-s a list of a few cool features of Publons:
1. It's super easy to track your reviews. You just forward the "Thank you" email from the editor confirming that you reviewed a paper, and Publons will take care of it.
2. Depending on the journal and editor, Publons will either automatically confirm your review as "real", or contact the editor to confirm that you really reviewed for them.
3. You can export a verified reviewer record, which you can use as a proof of your service as a reviewer.
4. Publons produces a number of stats. It shows when you review, how much you review as compared to others, and how long your reviews are as compared to others in your field and at your institution.
5. If you review rather frequently, you may be getting an award for your efforts.
6. Editors can give you extra credit if you write a review they find particularly good, and these kudos get displayed on your profile as well.
7. As you increase the number of reviews, you will get more reviewer credit, which shows up on the side bar of your profile.
8. If you decide to make your reviews public, other researchers can endorse your reviews. You can also endorse the reviews of other researchers.

Publons is part of the Clarivate analytics empire, so they use Publons data for further processing. One of the cool outcomes of this data analysis is "Your year in peer review", the Clarivate list of highly cited researchers, and the Publons Hall of fame for "productive" reviewers.

Here are some examples of what you can do with Publons:

Year in review
Part of the stats Publons makes of your profile
Getting credit and awards

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How much time does it take to go from data analysis to manuscript draft

I recently ran a poll on Twitter to ask my fellow #acwri community how long the writing up stage of developing a manuscript takes. Not to my surprise, the majority voted that it widely depends. I, too, have experienced that not all papers are born equally. Sometimes I can knock out a draft in 12 hours. Sometimes, I keep changing the introduction to make sure I get the right approach angle and get the work to stand on its own.

Below you can find the wake of this poll:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Use these 5 tips to save time writing any paper

Today, I am inviting Michael Kulakov to share his best tips for writing papers. Michael is a freelance writer, who mainly works in the field of art, academia and education. He is also majoring in Linguistics. You can reach him at his Facebook page.

Writing a paper, whether it is a PhD research or a short essay, may be a huge pain. While it is fun, given that you enjoy the topic, the process of putting it together in writing takes an awful amount of time.

Follow these tips and you will find that the time you spend writing your paper will decrease significantly.

Take breaks

As counter intuitive as it may seem, to work more efficiently, you should take breaks rather often. It may be appealing to think that you can finish the paper in a 5 hour writing binge, but more often than not, working for too many hours straight will actually decrease your productivity.

Eye strain and mental fatigue will build up over time, making it harder for you to concentrate. Make sure to have a 5 minutes break every half an hour and a longer break up to 15 minutes every two hours to preserve your focus.

Keep consistent notes

Many young scholars tend to be rather chaotic in their research. They often leave numerous notes in different places. A couple of related documents on the desktop, scraps of paper, book pages, a coffee-stained napkin from that time an idea struck you in the cafeteria.

It is okay to write down ideas as they come, but keeping them in order is a must if you want to save yourself a lot of time later. Keep a document specifically for notes and make it a habit to transfer all the ideas you had during the day in it.

Citations first

Another major hurdle that you face while writing a paper is putting citations in place. Monotonous and time consuming process in itself, it can be worsened if you have to figure which citation goes where after the main copy of the paper is finished.

Make sure that each piece that you quote has a rough citation next to it even in the first draft. It is even easier for MLA style papers, as your work with in-text citations in most cases requires nothing but a name and a page number.

Practice touch typing

The citations are in place, you have the wording figured, but the speed of your fingers doesn’t quite match up to the speed of your thought. It is safe to assume that you are a much faster typer than your grandfather and you don’t glace at the keyboard all the time. But still, typing really fast is a challenge and you spend a lot of time correcting typos.

The odds are, that you, like many others, are using a hybrid two-fingered touch typing. While you have the keys’ positions memorised, you are only using your middle and index fingers.

It is an upgrade from looking at the keyboard constantly, but this method has a couple of significant disadvantages. Since you are using only two fingers that rest in the center of the keyboard, certain keys appear to be on the periphery, so it takes a bit more time to hit them. Also, these keys are the ones that cause most typos, as your hand is not very stable when you are hitting them.

Learning ten finger touch typing will help you save a small amount of time on hitting periphery keys and a huge amount of time on finding and correcting typos. Here are a couple of resources that will help you do that:

Typisto. It is a minimalistic site that lets you practice touch typing for free, no registration needed. The texts for typing are taken from classic literature. Check out the tips in the “Articles” section and you are good to go.

The typing cat. This resource is for complete beginners, they have it all explained really simple. You can take look at their step by step guides and typing games. It does require a registration, though.

Keyboard hacks for MS Office and Google Docs

Small details can save you a lot of time. Use these shortcuts to avoid looking up the icon to click.

MS Office shortcuts

Ctrl+Shift+L Quickly create a bullet point.
Ctrl+J Aligns the selected text or line to justify the screen.
Ctrl+M Indent the paragraph.
Ctrl+'+ Insert a character with an accent (é) mark
Ctrl+Shift+* View or hide non printing characters.
Ctrl+Spacebar Reset highlighted text to the default font.
Ctrl+1 Single-space lines.
Ctrl+2 Double-space lines.
Ctrl+5 1.5-line spacing.

Google Docs shortcuts

Ctrl + / Show common keyboard shortcuts
Alt + /;Alt + Shift + z; Google Chrome: Alt + z Search the menus

Ctrl + Enter Insert page break
Ctrl + . Superscript
Ctrl + , Subscript
Ctrl + Shift + 7 Numbered list
Ctrl + Shift + 8 Bulleted list
Ctrl + Alt + c Copy text formatting
Ctrl + ] Increase paragraph indentation
Ctrl + Alt + 0 Apply normal text style
Ctrl + Alt + m Insert comment
holding Ctrl + Alt, press n then h Move to next heading

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

How to use Google Drive in an optimal way

Today, Eugene Feygin shares with us some tips and tricks for using Google Drive. Eugen has a B.S. in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. As an SEO expert, he has published articles on the SEO trends and presented at multiple conferences on marketing research and tactics, user experience and social media management. He is the founder of a Chicago digital marketing agency Raw SEO, and enjoys studying UX from both sides—as a user testing products and as a designer using the results to spur innovation.

Think of all the ways that technology has made your life easier, both at home and in the office. For starters, you’re able to store documents, photos, and more, and have access to them no matter where you are. You’re also able to share things with other people, and one of the best tools to do that is Google.

Google, of course, is known as a search engine, but that’s not all that Google is. Google has a host of cloud-based tools that make accessing and editing documents simple not only for you but for your whole team. That’s why learning how to use Google and all of its associated hacks makes life even easier.

For starters, just installing Google Drive on your computer means you can access documents without opening a new window. Genius, right? So what else can you do? This graphic explains some top tips to know.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

I am Rasheda Weaver, and This is How I Work

Today, I am interviewing Dr. Rasheda L. Weaver for the "How I Work" series. Dr. Weaver is an Assistant Professor of Community Entrepreneurship in the department of Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont (UVM). She is also the Co-Director of UVM’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community. She conducted the first large-scale study of the social, economic, and legal activities of social enterprise (businesses that have a social and/or environmental mission) in the United States. Her research analyzes how entrepreneurship may be utilized as a strategy for poverty alleviation and community economic development. In her free time, Dr. Weaver is an avid salsa dancer and loves to make spicy Caribbean food for her husband and son.

Current Job: Assistant Professor of Community Entrepreneurship
Current Location: University of Vermont
Current mobile device: Samsung Android
Current computer: Mac Desktop and MacBook Air

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?

I am in my first year as an Assistant Professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of Community Development and Applied Economics. Since arriving, I was also offered and accepted the position of Co-Faculty Director for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
My Macbook Air is essential to my workflow because I travel a good deal and I try to stay out of the office when I am not teaching to focus on research days.

What does your workspace setup look like?
I alternate between work, office, and a café. I work in the office on teaching days and 1 day for research meetings, but I usually spend two days working from home or a café. I also have mini-writing retreats during the semester where I just work in a coffee shop near a scenic area or walking trail and take hiking/site-seeing breaks during my writing sessions.

My Office Desk (The week before classes when I am syllabus prepping)

Home Office

Café Work

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Consistency, compassion, self-awareness.
I am consistent in that I get my work done. I may not write every day at the same time, but I try to ensure I write or work on my research every day. There is never a day throughout the work week where I do not do something involved with my research.

In regards to compassion, I focus on excellence as opposed to perfection. Excellence to me involves: 1) completing a task (e.g. writing and submitting a journal manuscript, completing a lecture) and 2) reflecting on the task over time. I usually do not complete any research, teaching, or service task without just getting it done and then putting it aside for a few days to reflect on it, make changes, and then sent it out to the world. Essentially, I accomplish every responsibility I have immediately/ as soon as possible, put it aside to see if it reflects my vision for it, and then move on to the next thing. I try not to dwell on any one project/task because that often leads to time wasted.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?

My Publication Pipeline (shown below) helps me stay productive. It is on a bulletin board that I see every day. I left the names of each article out of the photo for anonymous peer-review purposes.

My Tenure-Track Portfolio keeps track of my work for promotions, reviews, and positive self-affirmation.

Also, on Fridays I make a list of all the things I have to do the following week (e.g. attending meetings, manuscript writing, teaching). I then create an agenda for each task and stick to it! I upload my class agendas to Blackboard, send agendas for my meetings, and set writing goals. This way, everyone that works with me knows what to expect and I have already prepped for my meetings for the week. It saves so much time and energy.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Not really, though I probably should. I feel like I should make better use of Evernote and some reference management tool, but I have not come around to doing it yet. I would like recommendations of any time-saving and organizational software.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?

Positivity, friendliness, a strong sense of self-confidence and self-awareness, and pretty cool dancing skills. My dad is a dancehall DJ and my aunt used to sing with Bob Marley. I’m a positive and free spirit. I get along with almost every person I meet.

What do you listen to when you work?
I love Pop and R&B, as well as reggae and salsa, but it depends. When I am writing, I usually listen to Whitney Houston, Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, or Alicia Keys. Essentially, I like music that speaks to my soul, but not so much that it will make me want to dance while writing. However, before any kind of presentation including a regular day in class, a conference, or a keynote presentation, I like to listen to Beyoncé, Katy Perry, or something upbeat and empowering. These types of songs help me unwind so I can be the free-spirited and open-minded person that I naturally am. After a conference, I usually try to attend a local salsa or reggae club as a treat. Dancing is one of my favorite things to do and I’m of Jamaican and Cuban descent so this kind of music helps me let go, be myself, and just have a good time after all the great work I just did.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?

I just read Trevor Noah’s book “Born A Crime” and I love it!
I usually read when I traveling using audiobooks.

I also love, love, love Thoughtfully Magazine. It’s all about self-care and positivity. The issue in the picture below is particularly amazing.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I’m an extrovert, however every now and then I need alone time to be creative and to focus. I’m very friendly, fun, and outgoing. This influences my work in that I see the classroom as a fun experience. My students often describe me as “energetic” and say that I make learning fun and cool. I do not aim for this, I just always focus on being myself because not being myself would make me nervous (food for thought). In regards to alone time, I like to get up early to write by myself and I often work alone. I sometimes like to work in groups (e.g. writing groups) as long as we stick to working for the most part. Because I am so outgoing, I can get distracted, but if I notice that I will usually just leave and come back to a group once my work is done.

What's your sleep routine like?

I try to get to sleep by 10p.m. and wake up around 5a.m. or 6a.m. depending on whether or not my toddler son wakes me up at night haha. This gives me time to wake up early for 20 minutes of yoga and meditation, 30 minutes of writing, and time to prepare breakfast and lunch (I make salads and smoothies for lunch in the morning plus prepare my son’s lunch) before my husband and son wake up.

What's your work routine like?
I teach 2 days per week and I only focus on teaching on those days. I prep for class, teach class, and then write notes for the next class. I usually try not to meet with anyone on these days. I come to campus an additional day each week for research and other meetings.

What's the best advice you ever received?
“Being a professor is like being an entrepreneur.” In our research, we must be innovative and productive to generate knowledge that is of value.
“In order to be “here” for students, you need to be “here.”” In other words, if I spend all my time focused on teaching and advising, I will not be productive enough in my research to be “here” at the university for my students in the future.