MLA 2018: Hacking the Scholarly Workflow

The CIT is sponsoring a two-hour, free-of-cost workshop during MLA 2018 sharing seven simple, real- life, lowcost, practical hacks to help scholars organize research materials, streamline teaching, manage their calendars, promote their work, and connect with other academics. A round of descriptive lightning talks is followed by interactive breakout sessions during which speakers demonstrate their hack in-depth. Follow along on Twitter at #mla2018 #s440.

Friday, 5 January, 5:15–7:15 p.m., Gramercy East, Hilton

Speakers: Nicky Agate, MLA; Eric Detweiler, Middle Tennessee State U; Jonathan Goodwin, U of Louisiana, Lafayette; Jason B. Jones, Trinity C; Amanda Licastro, Stevenson U; Andrew Pilsch, Texas A&M U, College Station; Zuleima Ugalde, California State U, Northridge

A bewildering and ever-growing number of apps, programs, and software- or equipment-related shortcuts are available for the use of literature and languages academics. These technologies can help the scholar organize her research materials, connect with other academics, streamline her teaching, manage her calendar, or promote her work. But because of this proliferation, it is difficult for each scholar to investigate every new technology.

This workshop, led by Shawna Ross (Texas A&M U) and Beth Seltzer (Bryn Mawr), thus shares simple, real-life, low-cost, practical “hacks” that have truly worked.

This workshop will be broken into two parts so that participants are exposed to a maximum number of new techniques. In this first part, there will be an hour of quick “lightning talks” in which each of 10 participants is allotted 5 minutes to explain their scholarly “hack.” Next, we will hold an hour of 6 ten-minute “breakout sessions” in which attendees choose a hack they were interested in during the lightning round. In each breakout sessions, attendees will watch a practical demonstration of the technique discussed in the lightning talk. During each breakout session, each attendee will also have the chance to try out the software or equipment being recommended.

To ensure that the workshop stays on schedule, a loud bell will be sounded precisely at the end of each 5-minute lightning round summary and at the end of each 10-minute breakout session. Participants will roam between the demonstrations of their choice, and the bell will emphasize the degree to which each “hack” is meant to solve problems quickly.

Each participant will showcase a different digital tool or methodology:

  • Nicky Agate will show attendees how to build their online profiles, share research, and access a virtual teamwork environment via the free, open-access Humanities Commons
  • Andrew Pilsch will demonstrate how to use Remark.js to make fast, easy slideshow presentations for conference presentations and classroom use.
  • Amanda Licastro will share her system for providing holistic feedback while evaluating student work through the using video feedback and digital annotation.
  • Jonathan Goodwin will address advanced citation management in Zotero, showing attendees how to clean metadata, tweak settings, and transfer citations between platforms.
  • Eric Detweiler will share his method using Python to help graduate students create organized, searchable notes for comprehensive field exams, theses, and dissertations.
  • Jason B. Jones will address the problem of information overload while researching by demonstrating how to use If This, Then That as an alternative to an RSS reader (for the purposes of bookmarking and sharing sources).
  • Zuleima Ugalde will provide a system for citation management that uses Excel as an alternative to commonly used tools, such as EndNote or Zotero.

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