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Five Tools to Help You Become an Excellent Social Scientist

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A social scientist should be able to do three things well. First, read content. To avoid conveniently living in your own echo chamber you have to read a lot of content including those that oppose your view.

Second, you should be able to create your own content. The practice of creating your own content helps you achieve clarity in your own thoughts and allows you to engage in meaningful conversations with your internet peers and colleagues.

Related to this is the third skill a social scientist should be able to do well: share content. What use is all the original content in the world if it remains within ivory towers, unread?

Being good at these things will make you an excellent thinker and the apps below can help you in that journey.

Ideas come and go in the most unexpected places and time. It is frequent that an excellent idea flashes before our very eyes but we can’t make good use of it because it is immediately forgotten. Compound this to our chronic file organization problem. What do you do with the files and articles lost in the forest of folders in your laptop or those ideas that you cannot use in your research because you don’t know where you got it? Surely, there must be a way to organize all of these content and reach your goals.

Enter Evernote. It is a versatile tool that can store your random musings, files, audio notes, photos and a whole lot more. Its simplicity allows you to customize it according to your particular purpose. Right now I use it to write my Master’s Thesis and has become some sort of a control center for everything I need. Plus it syncs online so you can have this control center whether you are in front of a computer, looking at your phone or working remotely from a public computer.

What do you do with the files and articles lost in the forest of folders in your laptop or those ideas that you cannot use in your research because you don’t know where you got it? Surely, there must be a way to organize all of these content and reach your goals.

Evernote has a free version but it has significant limitations. The free account gives you 60 MB of upload and sync for up to two devices. I suggest you try out its features before shifting to a Plus or Premium Version. Check out the full list of features here and sign up for an account here.

Unconvinced? Here‘s how a historian used it.

All of us browse the internet and spend significant time on social media. Sometimes, you stumble upon interesting material that you want to read later. The problem is you don’t always have an internet connection or you may have lost the link until your next free time. This problem is solved by Pocket.

Pocket saves and downloads your articles for offline use. Be it the latest post from The Daily Opium, news from popular sites or op-ed pieces from the New York Times or The Economist, you will always have those handy when you are in the mood to read.

The best part is that it’s free. If you want to help the developers out, it also has a premium version with additional features but I find that the free version suits my needs well.

While social scientists have expansive imaginative potential, we are not brains in a vat. Physical limitations such as eye strain is therefore a fact of life f.lux automatically apply filters on your screen based on your current time zone. Make strained eyes a thing of the past.

Why listen to podcasts? You remember those 2-3 hrs EDSA commute you have everyday where it’s so cramped you can’t even reach for the book you are supposed to be finished two week ago? I use that time to listen to inspiring and informative podcasts.

There’s a secondary purpose to this. Using electronic devices emit blue light that affects your sleeping pattern. f.lux lets me avoid this disadvantage.

  • itunes_12-2_apple_musiciTunes or any podcast subscription

I’m not exactly a huge Apple fan (people who know me personally know that I am a huge Android guy) but I use iTunes for podcasts subscriptions which I sync to the iPod (given to me as a gift by my lovely partner).

Why listen to podcasts? You remember those 2-3 hrs EDSA commute you have everyday where it’s so cramped you can’t even reach for the book you are supposed to be finished two week ago? I use that time to listen to inspiring and informative podcasts. While traffic is definitely not a state of mind, you can alter your productivity by making the passing time worthwhile. Remember, you can’t take back any minute lost.

As a social scientist, you are doing knowledge work. Much you do dwells in your laptop or computer and like all things upon this realm of ours, those machines are finite. What would you do if water got splashed to your hard disk? How would you deal with theft? Would all be lost? Thankfully there’s Box.

I use Box as a storage for all my files so I don’t worry about the physical longevity of my laptop. I also never forget to bring any file because it’s always on the cloud.

For teachers, my reading list includes link to articles that I have archived in Box. You’ll save time and paper by going to the cloud.

There are a variety of cloud services out there but why would I recommend this service? Google Drive offers 15 GB but counts your email. If you send a lot of files, 15 GB is not too much. Dropbox offers a mere 2 GB while OneDrive, 5 GB. Box offers 10 GB for its free account. If you are using the office cloud, remember that office administrators have access to whatever you upload in that platform.

A word of warning: make sure you have another backup of your files aside from the cloud. Precaution is always better than cure.

Pocket saves and downloads your articles for offline use. Be it the latest post from the Daily Opium, news from popular sites or op-ed pieces from the New York Times or the Economist, you will always have those handy when you are in the mood to read.

There you have it, 5 tools to help you become a better social scientist. What do you think of this list? Do you use other apps not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments or email us at thedailyopium@gmail.com

Image from: http://politheor.net/michel-foucault-on-refugees-an-interview-from-1979/

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