10 November 2010

Research you can re-Search

Research you can re-Search

I've made lots of notes I'll never read again, because they are on paper and I can't search them.
There are now lots of tools for recording research and searching it. Here are my favourites.

Word Outline

PBWorks Wiki




Acrobat OCR



Word Outline View

I covered this when looking at long documents
- you can see the overall picture, or drill down to details instantly
- you can move text around, with all the associated paragraphs
- you are writing in the native format your final work will be in


Wiki - eg the one at PBWorks.com (free for non-commercial use)

* write ideas as they come to you, and access them from anywhere
* and it is very good at Greek and Hebrew, even on a Mac.
* you can paste complex Unicode Biblical Greek & Hebrew from Word, or from a web page
 (you can't paste straight from BibleWorks, so paste into Word, then copy and paste from there)
* this works just as well on a Mac as a PC, because you are using the web


The point of a Wiki is that is written in a disorderly way, but it organises itself
* you quickly write down an outline, then expand it by highlighting a word or phrase and starting a new page
* or you simply write individual pages and bring them together later
* search is pretty good, so you can find pages where you’ve already written on something


Zotero (free)

* stores and searched web pages, PDF files
* great for grabbing a web page and storing it with a date
* it automatically stores the complete PDF from periodical sources like JStore
* if you are in a library catalogue, it can grab all the bibliographic data
* then you can add summaries of the book as you read it
* it can integrate with your word processor to export in all the standard formats, eg Cicago style
* with the add-on to search PDF files, it will automatically index them for instantly finding text
* just type a work, and it lists all the web pages & PDF files or summaries including that word
* you can highlight sections of a web page or PDF and it stays highlighted
* you can categorise stuff in multiple ways * esp tags and folders.
* you can ;sync your Zotero database with several computers, BUT your attached files don't sync
* so put them into a Dropbox or SugarSync folder (more of that another time)
Zotero doesn't index Word docs (don't know why), so do this:
* click on the "+" and link to the Word file.
* double-click on the file to open it, then select all the text and Copy it
* paste the text into the "Note" area in Zotero. These notes are automatically indexed.


Foxit for PDFs (free version)

* Endnote is probably better than Endnote at integration with Word and online backup
* but it isn't so good at quickly grabbing just anything (web pages, word docs) and indexing them
FoxIt for PDFs (free version)
* everyone uses Acrobat PDF reader by default, until they discover FoxIt
* there’s a free and a paid-for version, but the free one is much more powerful than free Acrobat
* much smaller, quicker to load, you can use it to annotate PDFs, highlight bits, and add notes
* but the killer feature is the ability to search multiple PDF files
* by default it searches your whole computer, so tell it to search you Documents
* or, if you are organised, just the folder with PDFs, or your Zotero folder


Search everything with FileLocator (free version)

* Zotero is good at searching your web pages & PDFs & your document, if you’ve added them
* FoxIt is wonderful at searching all PDFs and shows results in context one at a time
* FileLocator searches everything, and shows you results in context all at once
 (Google desktop is also good, and even the Find built into Windows is now very good,
  but they only work well if they have already indexed everything, and this can slow down
  your computer considerably)

Check out Qiqqa.com - a new free tool which indexes and searches PDFs, synchronises them across several computers. , and even OCRs them if they are scans. 


OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

* in the bad old days you had photocopies, which you can search only by eye
* then OCR came along, which was like employing a really bad typist who makes lots of errors
* you can search it, but it is hard to read when there are even occasional errors
* and of course any Hebrew or Greek turns to gibberish
* you get a free OCR program with any scanner you buy
* then Google books came along and showed a new way to do OCR
* you keep the picture of the scan, but invisibly superimpose the OCR
* there are still OCR errors, but they don't matter much, and you can read the Greek & Hebrew
Now everyone can make Google-book-style documents
* Nuance.co.uk is good, but the free version doesn't do OCR - you need to pay about £100
* Acrobat Pro is better, esp when a scan has a "gutter" (the bent faint bit in the spine of the book)
  but this costs more (about £130 with a education discount).
* we use Acrobat Pro on the photocopier at Tyndale, so all scans become searchable


EverNote.com is a free alternative

* you don't need a scanner or an OCR program. Just a free account
* you take a photo of a page on your phone, and send it to your online account
* it turns into a picture of the page with an OCR layer
* you can also clip and save web pages
* they have search software which works on most phones and computers

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