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Reference Management Software – Yes, again. It’s important.

Protoscholar recently, and very kindly, linked to my previous post on computing skills for students and made two very pertinent comments, which you can read here. The first comment was that I’d missed out any kind of software for doing qualitative analysis. This omission is entirely a product of my own ignorance I’m afraid – I come from a very experimental background and know very little about qualitative research and the relevant tools available. I’m happy to link to protoscholar’s article and the recommendations for qualitative software made there.

The second comment was that ‘Reference Management Software’ and ‘Do regular backups’ were too important to be filed away at the end under ‘Miscellaneous’. This is absolutely right – in fact I regard the use of Reference Management software to be the absolute number one, top tip that every student, post-grad or academic needs to know. I notice there are already some good articles on protoscholar’s site about various bits of software, so I’m linking to them here.

Just to reiterate – if you’re a student and you’re not using some kind of reference management software, you’re making your life so much more difficult than it needs to be. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose, as long as you use something!

All via

A very useful chart on different features of the most popular RM software.
A useful article on organising your research.

My Favourite RM tool – Mendeley.


Wetware software

One of the things that psychology/neuroscience students often find hardest is learning about brain anatomy. Most psychology courses nowadays have some neuroscience element to them, and for beginners unfamiliar nomenclature like ‘ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex’ and ‘rostroventral-medial medulla’ can be (rightly) terrifying. Further confusion can be caused by some papers referring to numbered Brodmann areas, and other papers preferring to use functional descriptions of brain areas, such as ‘motor cortex’ or ‘hMT/V5’. The primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe might be referred to functionally (V1), by Brodmann area  (17), anatomically (calcarine sulcus) or cytoarchitectonically (‘striate cortex’).

A lot of this confusion can be cleared up by a bit of basic reading. The wikipedia page on Anatomical Terms of Location is excellent, as is this very clear page specifically on anatomical terms used for the human brain. Brodmann areas are also explained here. Read the rest of this entry