I\’m Too Sexy for My Master\’s Thesis

endnote add-on

Posted in tools by Rae on 18 September 2006

Firefox now has a handy-dandy Endnote add-on for all you Endnote users. I only used Endnote for one class ever, as I found it easier to just put the bibliography together myself. Plus, I’m the kind who actually enjoys typing up bibliographical information. What can I say? I love everything about and related to books.


super sexy wednesday 12

Posted in history,scholarship,tools by Rae on 27 July 2006

My internet connection was out for most of the day, plus my thesis defense was this afternoon. More on that tomorrow!


David Margolick reviews Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz by Jan T. Gross.


DigitalKoans takes a look at ALA and Open Access.


New Model for Scholarly Publishing is mostly about Rice University’s new plan for its defunct press:

Rice University on Thursday announced a plan to shake up those interconnected problems. Rice University Press, which was killed in 1996, will be revived. But unlike every other university press, it will publish all of its books online only. People will be able to read the books for no charge and to download them for a modest fee. Editors will solicit manuscripts and peer review panels will vet submissions — all in ways that are similar to the systems in traditional publishing.

This was supposed to be included in Super Sexy Wednesday 11. Fortunately, it’s still worth reading (if not a must-read).


I’m constantly reading PDFs. Whether my school has sent me an electronic copy of an article I requested, or I need to read over an old Jewish Chronicle page, or I want to take a look at an ETD, I had to use Adobe Acrobat Reader. Or so I thought.
When Father Inch mentioned Foxit PDF Reader to me a few weeks back, I thought, “Okay, I can give it a try.” Little did I know that my life would be forever changed. Adobe Acrobat is slow to open, it’s slow to load PDFs, and then it’s slow to scroll through them. Foxit is none of the above. It’s fast and gorgeous, and it’s now my default PDF reader. I highly recommend it (as does Father Inch).


Lifehacker (probably the most helpful blog out there) recently posted a link to how to make a flash drive icon. This is such a perfect time waster that I’m sad I didn’t know about it while I was still working on my thesis. But, it’s wasting my time almost as well right now, so I can’t really complain! I’m also working on a favicon for my other site (since this is a WordPress-hosted blog, I don’t think I can change the favicon here). I’ll share the results later.


H. Freeman Matthews Jr., a Foreign Service officer who helped lay the groundwork for the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords, which brought an end to three decades of conflict between Israel and Egypt, died Saturday in Washington. He was 78.

super sexy wednesday 8

Posted in history,scholarship,tools by Rae on 28 June 2006

Digital History Hacks has a fabulous roundup of Digital History Blogs. While I’m Too Sexy might not technically be a digital history blog, my posts certainly display a strong interest in using technology to aid research and writing, not to mention my interest in new publishing models. Hmph. And Wah.


Institutional Strategies and Policies for Electronic Theses and Dissertations:

Almost without exception, students produce theses and dissertations in electronic formats, and it would seem that an institutional electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) program would be the rule and not the exception. In the United States, however, ETD programs have been slow to gain ground; other countries are far ahead in implementing comprehensive strategies for the creation of and access to ETDs. The focus of this bulletin is on the development of institutional policies to address ETDs and the changes needed in academic culture to implement robust ETD programs. The value of ETDs as institutional intellectual assets is also explored.

(via Open Access News)


In Digital Age, Advancing a Flexible Copyright System:

So closely is copyright associated with the phrase “all rights reserved” that some people have difficulty imagining any other system. But an unusual global alliance of artists, scientists and lawyers, meeting here over the weekend, has been working in recent years to forge a “creative commons” that allows artists to decide which rights they want to retain and which they would rather share.

It always amazes me how long it takes the NYTimes to catch on. They might be a good source of new news, but they’re often a bit slow to cover cultural movements. But, better late than never.


Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office:

This add-in enables you to embed a Creative Commons license into a document that you create using the popular applications: Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, or Microsoft Office Excel. With a Creative Commons license, authors can express their intentions regarding how their works may be used by others.

(via the Creative Commons Blog)


Let’s Reverse the Pattern of Secrecy:

On May 2, 2006, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (S.2695) requiring every federal agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more to implement a public access policy that is consistent with and advances the federal purpose of the respective agency. Help make sure that you have access to vital scientific advancements and other discoveries that could protect you and your family! Tell your Senator to co-sponsor S.2695 today!

I completed the form and sent it to friends and family, as well. Even if you decide not to fill out the form, at least click the link above to learn about this important issue.


Read Roy Rosenzweig’s essay, “Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past.” While Sanger isn’t particularly happy with the results of Wikipedia, he is quite excited about his new project, Textop.


The June 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine is up. In case you don’t know:

D-Lib Magazine is a solely electronic publication with a primary focus on digital library research and development, including but not limited to new technologies, applications, and contextual social and economic issues.


Israel’s Education Ministry still not recognizing Yeshiva University degrees:

YU degrees are accepted by Harvard, Yale and any number of top-notch American universities – and so it is an Israeli ministry alone that refuses to acknowledge them for salary purposes.

(via Failed Messiah)


Snakes, Planes and the Triumph of Ironic Appreciation:

Like many PopMatters readers, I suspect, I tend to keep a sheaf or two of Hellenistic Judaic texts on the nightstand for light bedtime reading. You can only breeze through so much James Joyce before you start to feel like you’re slumming. Imagine my surprise when, in a section of passages presaging the end of the world, I came across the following:

And lo, unto the land of Babel shall come a man, one like unto the Son of man, clothed with rich garment down to the foot, and girt about the ears with a Kangol cap. And he shall be called Samuel, son of Jack, with an “L” in there somewhere, and speaking with a great voice, as of a blasphemous trumpet, he shall banish yon serpents from the sky…

When I read this I thought: Sonofa . . . they’re talking about Snakes on a Plane!

(via PaleoJudaica)


Mary Martin McLaughlin, 87, a Scholar of the Middle Ages, Is Dead:

Mary Martin McLaughlin, an internationally renowned scholar of the Middle Ages who spent the last four decades working almost entirely outside the academy, died on June 8 at her home in Millbrook, N.Y. She was 87.

For the last 40 years, Ms. McLaughlin labored over two books, to be published posthumously, that colleagues describe as her masterworks. One is the first full biography of Héloïse, the lover and later wife of the 12th-century French philosopher Peter Abélard. The other is the first English translation of the complete correspondence of Héloïse and Abélard.

two tools you must buy

Posted in tools by Rae on 16 June 2006

I get a thrill from finding great computer-based tools that can aid my research. As much as I love geeky tech stuff, nothing can replace two particular physical, hold-in-your-hands tools that I use on a daily basis.

I thought I was the world’s biggest (greatest?) fan of page tabs, until I started using them for research. The primary sources I use are circa WWI and the adhesive on the tabs does a number on the paper. In the pic of the tabs below, you can see some that have torn off bits of paper. It breaks my heart…

But Book Darts have changed everything. They’re cute and get the job done superbly well, the tin is lovely and convenient, and the price ($30 for three tins containing a total of 375 darts) is far superior to that of Levenger’s Page Points ($83 for 375)! I don’t normally write infomercials, but that’s such a huge difference that I couldn’t help but point it out. I love browsing Levenger’s catalog, but they’re obviously going for a group of readers with significant incomes. Even if I did have lots of money, I’m too much of a bargain hunter to pass up a great deal on as practical an item as Book Darts.


Here is Father Inch's review of this fab product:

Unlike the “other brand”, Book Darts are the cat’s meow of bibliomarkers. They fit tightly on the page (unlike the alternative, which is loose on the thinner pages), so that one does not leave off reading with the haunting fear that the marker will slip off (either accidentally or on its own volition). In addition, the lip that enables one to slip it onto the page is much more subtle than the competitor’s crude version, thus producing a slimmer profile when one examines the book from the side, and producing practically no dent in the page, even after a period of time (the competitor’s version feels compelled to leave evidence of its presence in the form of a slight nick on the page). My conclusion: Book Darts rule.

In case you need more proof, here are before and after pics.


Awesome, right?

The other tool is a book weight. I have three, though the one shown below is the best of the bunch (and was about $10 at Borders). I usually have a few books open at one time when I'm researching, and it's convenient to have a tool that works so well. Sure, there are lots of other heavy objects one could try using, but I've tried them all and they don't compare. Other books are too big; cell phones are too small; a pencil case works well, but not if you need to take out a pencil, eraser, or sharpener. I also use my book weight on airplanes, as it frees up my hands for snacking and nail biting.





Cats can also be used as book weights:


But I assure you they can only provide a temporary solution.

super sexy wednesday 5

Posted in history,scholarship,tools by Rae on 7 June 2006

Aqueduct's got the latest History Carnival focusing on academic technology.


Something to consider while writing your thesis/dissertation/masterpiece: 10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid. (via Lifehacker)


Overlooked Again — Community Colleges and Science:

According to NSF’s 2001 Survey of Recent College Graduates, 46 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients in 1999 and 2000 in “life and related sciences” had attended community colleges. Students who had taken a class or classes at a community college also accounted for 42 percent of computer and math sciences degrees at or above the bachelor’s level, and 40 percent of engineering degrees.

I'd like to know how many humanities graduates attended community colleges. My husband has a law degree and attended community college way back when, and I, too, attended community college. In my case, several of my professors had PhDs from top universities but chose to teach at a community college because they wanted to focus on teaching and not research. As a result, those professors have hugely (and positively) impacted my years as a student, and even the years when I wasn't a student.


New book: Teaching Bibliography, Textual Criticism, and Book History. According to the publisher, the book is due out some time this month.


Check out Wired's article, Free Radical:

Varmus is the most visible characterin the movement to free the scientific world of its figurative corks: scholarly journals that restrict the flow of information by charging often hefty subscription prices for access to their content. Today, Varmus has been invited by Charles Nesson, a professor of law at Harvard, to enlighten the student editors of the various Harvard Law School journals about the virtues of so-called open-access publishing. Nesson introduces his guest as “the prophet of open access.” Varmus’ smile doesn’t fade, and his hair stands proudly where the wind last left it.

(via Open Access News)


Researchers from 36 countries submitted proposals for research to advance the field of search. The 12 winners will receive grant money from Microsoft Live Labs and access to a set of MSN Search query logs in order to push forward our understanding of the Internet, search, and online social behaviors.

Read the 12 winning proposals. (via Open Access News)


According to a Harris Poll published on May 31, the majority of U.S. adults support easy and free online access to Federally-funded research findings. Indeed, 83% wanted it for their doctors and 82% wanted it for everyone. So, you're wondering why someone in humanities should care, right? In general, the humanities fields are way behind the sciences in terms of utilizing technology, open access publishing, and implementing progressive models for education. I'm not going to get in to the hows and whys. Instead, I'm simply going to point out that the battles being fought by the sciences are paving the way for the humanities fields. I support easy access to research not only because it's just the right thing (IMHO), but because it will benefit all scholarship in the long run.

No significant updates on the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (the FRPAA/ Cornyn-Lieberman bill) introduced to the Senate in May, but feel free to urge your own Senator to support the bill.


I'm psyched about the Scholar's Copyright Project. They are currently offering

a suite of short amendments that authors attach to the copyright transfer form agreements from publishing companies. The Addenda ensure, at a minimum, that scholarly authors retain enough rights to archive their work on the public Internet.

The project is under the auspices of Science Commons, but I don't see why these same addenda couldn't be used by any scholar (regardless of field).

(via OA Librarian)


Publishing Gone Digital – It's refreshing when a major publisher isn't afraid of OA. Such is the case with Yale, which blogged about one of their books, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom and posted a link to the free, online version. (via Father Inch)

super sexy wednesday 3

Posted in history,tools by Rae on 24 May 2006

First, the news and info:

John Willinsky's keynote address at the Learning Free of Boundaries conference is available for download. (via Open Access News)


Nazi crimes archives set to open.


PaleoJudaica has a nifty post on pseudepigrapha:

JOHANN ALBERT FABRICIUS (1668-1736) was an amazingly prolific polymath who published, among other things, vast histories of Greek and Latin literature (the Bibliotheca Latina and Bibliotheca Graeca), an edition of New Testament Apocrypha (the Codex Apocryphus), and the first scholarly collection of Old Testament pseudepigrapha: Codex pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti (1722-23).


Siris features Ancient/Medieval history blog stuff in Carnivalesque XV.


The Yale Press blog remembers Jaroslav Pelikan.


From Tomorrow's Professor Blog: The Scholarship of Engagement: What Is It?


The Onion reports that "Heroic Computer Dies To Save World From Master's Thesis":

A courageous young notebook computer committed a fatal, self-inflicted execution error late Sunday night, selflessly giving its own life so that professors, academic advisors, classmates, and even future generations of college students would never have to read Jill Samoskevich's 227-page master's thesis, sources close to the Brandeis University English graduate student reported Monday.


Scan This Book! – the New York Times on the universal library.

Now, the tools:

A convenient tool for grad students: find free wireless internet access in the U.S. with ilovefreeWiFi. (via Lifehacker)


Something to make good use of while working on your thesis/dissertation project is the Thanks. No. website. It'll tell all those people who are constantly sending you forwards and other time-wasting email to shove it, but in a wordier, less rude way.


If you're like me (and, of course, you are), then you probably email lots of files and upload lots of photos on a regular basis. Check out this Mozilla add-on that allows you to drag, drop, and upload (or email). (via Lifehacker)

getting organized

Posted in thesis,tips,tools by Rae on 19 May 2006


Note: These are not my books. My book piles are very neat. 

May 12's PhD comic summed up the organizational difficulties a lot of graduate students (and everyone else, for that matter) face. But there are solutions for managing the chaos that is undoubtedly your life, and I'm going to share some of the effective tools I've stumbled across.

There are several books about getting and staying organized, but the one that has the largest and still-growing cult following is Getting Things Done (known affectionately as GTD) by David Allen. Unfortunately I came across this one a bit too late to fully implement for my thesis, but it's changed the way I think about being organized and my productivity has improved. Two very helpful websites on GTD are the 43Folders wiki and Steve Lawson's "Lunch and Learn" tutorial.

Good email management is also important. Steve Lawson recommends reading these two guides: Ole Eichhorn's "The Tyranny of Email," and Mark Hurst's "Managing Incoming E-mail: What Every User Needs to Know." I've read them and refer to them in conversations all the time. I especially liked the concept that it takes three solid hours to get something done. To get in "the zone," you need to eliminate the distractions. Eichhorn tells you how.

I find to-do lists and calendars particularly helpful. I've tried Mozilla's various calendar applications and wasn't crazy about them. I'm generally a list person, so I use Remember the Milk. I can create my to-do lists and have them emailed to me every morning, plus they show up in my blog reader (Bloglines) via an RSS feed. Google Calendar is very popular, but for calendars I prefer a Moleskine. I bought the limited edition one in Commie Red last week and can't wait for 2007!

On Wednesday I linked to an article on overcoming procrastination. A few days ago, Gadgetopia posted that sometimes procrastination can be confused with thinking. While motivational articles and speakers often make me want to strangle someone due to their over-the-top postivity, motivational phrases can be useful without enraging.

Sure, a number of the above links are geared towards programmers and related geeks, but my readers are probably nose-in-book types and can therefore appreciate them just the same. 

Do you have ideas about getting and staying organized at work, school, or home? 

super sexy wednesday

Posted in tips,tools by Rae on 10 May 2006

I've collected a number of miscellaneous links of possible interest to graduate students and researchers, so I've created "super sexy wednesday" as a platform for sharing those links. I'll do this every week.


Most researchers are probably familiar with Google Scholar, and Microsoft recently unveiled their Live Academic Search. Elsa Wenzel offers a quick comparison of the two here.The New York Times published an article today on Microsoft and Google's apparent collision course: Microsoft and Google Grapple for Supremacy as Stakes Escalate. (via Open Access News)


Announcing the official Inside Google Book Search blog.


You've probably heard about the Cornyn-Lieberman Bill. If not, it' a proposed bill that would make federally-funded research into open access research. I see it as aiding the intellectual and research community, but not everyone's enthusiastic. The Association of American Publishers issued their protest yesterday. Click here to read more about it and what open access proponents are saying in response to the publishers' concerns.


The Chronicle has a piece on the problems posed by multimedia dissertations. My project is a plain, ol' words on paper kinda thesis, so this is not a problem I'm facing. Still, it's food for thought.


Tomorrow's Professor Blog has a useful post that

looks at some practical suggestions for choosing the right dissertation topic in the humanities and social sciences. It is from Chapter 4 Finishing the Doctoral Degree in a Timely Fashion: The Dissertation as a Key Factor in the Humanities and Social Sciences, by Cynthia Verba, in Scholarly Pursuits: A Guide to Professional Development During the Graduate Years.

Check it out.


A possibly handy tool for grad students: ExpressPDF lets you convert online Word, Excel, web pages to PDF for free.

(via Library Stuff)


The 5th edition of A Pocket Guide to Writing in History by Mary Lynn Rampolla will be released in July.