Often what works at one university will work in some way, shape or form at another. Especially when a number of the resources supplied to one university are found at many others.

This is the case with EzProxy – that login service that allows us to access databases off campus.

We used to have a link on our uni website that used to take us to a version of Google Scholar that allowed us to access full text… however I couldn’t find it, so Googled and found Colorado State University’s information on how to link EzProxy information in my personal Google account. Maybe we have this… but whatever. :) Substitute your university name in following the instructions, and lo-and-behold… link magic!


Why didn’t I find this a year ago????

Export from Sente to Scrivener
March 26, 2015

Using Notes from Sente

One of the biggest concerns I had about Sente was being able to use the notes that I had taken in Sente in a practical way. In using Word or Byword as the main writing tool for writing, this generally meant keeping Sente and the program open, with flicking back and forth between them. While I had identified a way to make this work, it was starting to get cumbersome, and unwieldy with long documents.

A number of people that do PhD research would be familiar with the Thesis Whisperer, and the program Scrivener that is often referred to on that blog. I have been trialling it, and finally bit the bullet and bought a copy. I’m still learning some of its peculiarities, however to get up and running with it and be functional from Day 1 is very straightforward.

I did still have this issue of flicking back and forward between Scrivener and Sente.

Fortunately a script has been developed to export notes from Sente to Scrivener, and there is a handy youtube video to quickly guide you through the script use.

Export from Sente to Scrivener

Worth checking out if you are looking at integrating a process for software that may not be as commonly used as Evernote. Sente is still my preferred PDF management app, and I’m glad that I’ve found ways to use that information from one program to another in a good flow with less repetition.




Writing is the beast that has been chasing me around for the last month. I’ve really struggled with finding a way to organise literature that I am supposed to review, and finding a way to focus on it without getting either overwhelmed or distracted.

I’ve been trying to use a plain text editor to focus my efforts, and I invested in Byword due to its ability to work across my Mac and i-devices, however it seemed it was a touch too minimalist to work properly. I then distracted myself with evaluations of tools such as Scrivener and Ulysses 3, however this was just more yak shearing in action (I can’t write without the proper tools!), so I decided to see what I could do with what I have – and I’m back to Byword.

So this is the layout that I’m going with at the moment. I’m working for 4 weeks in the Academic Writing Club to try and have a degree of accountability, and have started off with small goals.

Here is my layout and thoughts behind my approach. I’m putting it here as a reminder to myself, as well as a useful reference for anyone that is stuck as well. I use Sente for PDF/article management, but any tool that allows you to tag your articles (eg. Mendeley, Endnote) could be used in a similar fashion to the second screen shot below.

Hopefully I’ll have something good (aka actual writing) to show my supervisors in 10 days or so.

Writing in Byword – a useful screen layout

(click on the screenshot below to see a larger version)


Focusing in Sente – using tagging to create a useful view that doesn’t overwhelm or distract

(click on the screenshot below to see a larger version)



1280px-Bos_grunniens_at_Letdar_on_Annapurna_CircuitMy supervisor introduced me to the concept of yak-shearing (or shaving as it is known in some circles), and I’ve found that I tend to be an expert on this topic! (That is, I’m good at it!)

I’ve used it a few times recently, and so I am forced to find a good definition of it!

The best definition I’ve found to date is from this site:

You see, yak shaving is what you are doing when you’re doing somestupid, fiddly little task that bears no obvious relationship to whatyou’re supposed to be working on, but yet a chain of twelve causalrelations links what you’re doing to the original meta-task.

Seth Godin apparently (unconfirmed) put together this example of the process of yak shearing:

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do.

“I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

Whether or not this is accurately attributed, the sentiment is correct – it’s a form of procrastination based on rationalising each task as “required” in order to complete the task that you need to do. Invariably it results in you putting off the task that needs to be done (probably because in my case I subconsciously don’t want to do it).

Getting around it? There are a bunch of strategies, but the best one for me is to keep coming back to that to-do list. In designing my tasks, I need to break it down in to sub-tasks. This helps me identify any yaks in advance, in some cases. When I find myself off on a task that seems to be wasting my time, I need to do a reality check. I don’t always remember to do this, but I’m getting better.

BTW – this post isn’t yak shearing. It’s straight-up procrastination!

Thanks, Ciorstan!


I had been testing a standing desk arrangement, and had my iMac precariously perched on top of a lap desk (on top of my existing desk) to determine whether a standing desk arrangement was for me.

Turns out it is… and even though it can be quite tiring, it seems to be totally worth it. I’ve adjusted some activities to accommodate periods of sitting and standing. The result is that I sleep and feel a whole lot better, with fewer aches and pains. This means that I can concentrate more.

As a result I’ve changed the arrangement to a more permanent structure. The pussycats may have some issues with it initially, as it eats into their lounging real estate, but it is allowing me to find a more permanent home for a number of items that used to be strewn across my desk.

Here is the new configuration.



In teaching Supply Chain Management and Logistics, sometimes it’s handy to have resources like this.

I’m including a blank copy of the Strategic Profit Model (aka Dupont Model, RONA, ROA analysis).

For those that are interested in a youtube video that explains this model and the impact of procurement on the ROA figure, check out this video:

(link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR4ln3_JgRI)

Here are the blank models (click on images below for larger versions).

  • Strategic Profit Model (blank)
  • Strategic Profit Model (with symbols)
June 10, 2014

Permanent head Damage

Hi – My name is Stephanie and I do research in the area of supply chain management. At the moment I am specifically working on the influence of culture on decision making and implementation in supply chains. Interesting stuff (for me anyway)!

It was suggested by a few people I know to share some insights into the research process online, and so this blog was born. It’s a source of information for my own reference, and in the hope that others will find it useful as well. Please drop me a line via my contact page if you have any suggestions or leave a comment if any posts strike a chord with you!


I find with the myriad of stud that needs checking, verifying, and with my teaching load that there are a whole bunch of tasks that seem to slip through the cracks. 

I tried putting follow ups on my calendar, or in an electronic to do list, but the to do list just became nag-ware that I ended up ignoring or disabling, and my calendar became too cluttered and I’d stop referring to it for appointments. Basically email and other reminders were cluttering and overwhelming other perfectly useful tools.

For the most part if have a simple hand-written to do list (on my ipad – I use Notability) for the stuff on my radar for the next 7-10 days (sorted into ‘Today’, ‘Tomorrow’, and ‘Done’. However when it goes beyond that, or I need to “snooze” email messages, Follow Up Then has been my go-to email reminder service.

For the record, I do not get any royalties for recommending this service… It’s just been so useful that I’ve paid for the Personal Premium account. It’s ability to set recurring reminders, track tasks (it’ll nag you til it’s done) and ability to handle attachments (premium version) have become essential to managing my own time and ensuring fewer things slip through the cracks.


I have made reference before to James Hayton’s videos, where I personally discovered “Why?” as a driver for my research journey and participation from potential candidates.

Yesterday I attended a webinar while on the road entitled ‘Understanding Academic Literature‘ (thank goodness for the internet). One of the things that resonated strongly with me was the idea of a simple classification system for material that can be applied as you read. It’s a simple A/B/C/D system, and while it wasn’t the only takeaway from James’ presentation, it was one that I could implement immediately – especially on a four hour plane journey home.

Classifying literature, by James Hayton

I’ve modified the classification slightly to suit my own needs, as anyone should, and it has resulted in the following:

  • A – Central
  • B – Supportive and informational, or relevant to methodology
  • C – Might be useful – KIV
  • D – Not relevant

“KIV” is a term that I hadn’t heard until I moved to Singapore, but it’s an acronym for Keep In View. Basically something that you’re not quite willing to discard, but may need to refer to later. For me it’s usually something that’s filtering around in the back of my brain that won’t quite let me discard the article. I have a personal rule that there shouldn’t be more than 10 papers with this label. I’m setting a monthly reminder to review these so that this doesn’t become an article graveyard.

James discussed using a “print and keep in folder” method. That doesn’t work for me due to the portability of my work and life and general. Sente knocks it out of the ballpark for me on this one – I’m using its tagging feature to keep track of this classification system. I’ve written before about why Sente works for me, and I recommend it to anyone who needs a portable, syncing database for literature management.

Other things that got me thinking from James’ webinar:

  • Identification of seminal works/authors as a key requirement for literature review – this is probably going to be key for me as I pull a number of research areas together – culture, logistics, decision making, MNCs and international business. I need to look at citations and influence when considering some of these areas. This doesn’t mean I must include them, but people may expect that I understand they exist, and be able to justify why I haven’t included them.
  • Identification of peers/competitors – I am not sure I am comfortable with the competitor term (although that’s probably my inexperience speaking), however I understand the concept of looking at people who are doing research in similar areas. I probably need to drill into this more than I have previously as I haven’t given it much thought in this context.
  • Answer three main questions when evaluating each piece of literature: What was done in the article? How was it done? Why is it significant (especially in the context of my own research)?
  • Often my expertise is lacking, especially at the beginning of each phase (reading, data collection, analysis, writing), and it’s okay to refer to teaching textbooks and Wikipedia to learn in the areas where I lack skills or knowledge. Just don’t reference them!

One of the recurring messages in James’ presentations is that PhD candidates should understand that they begin the journey with little experience, and build it up over the course of their PhD (to ‘more experienced’, not expert!). I find that this is not a linear progression, but something that is more iterative as I enter different phases of my PhD. I would say my journey is better represented by the grey line below.

My journey is more like the dotted grey line, with expertise and skills being built upon.

While I have more than 500 articles in my Sente Database, and notes written on all of them, now that I’m in data collection I find myself revisiting the literature and needing to start classify/sort with more clarity. This webinar was timely in this regards, and thanks to James for making it available at a reasonable fee.