The’academic workflow’ is a representation of scholarship as a series of stages or steps connected to each other without gaps or duplication. Although simplified, the idea of the workflow helps to structure, develop, and communicate tools, knowledge and experience across various academic contexts.
There are three essential stages of the academic workflow:
- Capturing and processing existing knowledge.
- Creating new knowledge.
- Disseminating knowledge.
This blog is dedicated to Mac software and work techniques useful at each of the three stages as well as to cross-cutting tools related to task and time management and general productivity.
Capturing and processing existing knowledge
Every academic has to capture, processing and organize information received in electronic, paper, or verbal form as well as his/her own thoughts and ideas. Macademic covers organization of email messages, reference files, and notes. The Mac software I use for these purposes includes Apple Mail with MailTags (for email), NValt and Simplenote (for notes), Tags, DefaultFolderX, Hazel, and Papers (for pdf files). In the past I also tried (and still use it to some extent) Leap, Notational Velocity, DevonThink, Sente, Evernote, and HoudahSpot. Most of this software relies on OpenMeta tags. Macademic posts on capturing and processing knowledge use the following tags: email, notes, reference files and tagging.
Creating new knowledge
In most of academia, especially in social sciences, the process of creating new knowledge is intricately connected to academic writing. Mac software which I use at earlier stages of writing includes OmniOutliner, Byword, and Scrivener as well as Google Docs (for collaborative writing). My publications are typically finalized in Apple Pages (for printing or distribution in the pdf format) or in Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac (for publishers). Citations and references are handled by Papers. I prepare graphics in OmniGraffle. In the past, I tried Mellel for writing as well as Bookends, EndNote and Sente for citations and references. Macademic has posts on writing tagged as writing, wordprocessing and bibliography.
Academic knowledge is primarily disseminated through teaching, publications (“the difference between alchemy and science is that the latter involves publishing!“) and presentations at scientific gatherings. I use Apple Keynote for both teaching and presentations. My publications and essays are usually circulated in pdf format through email or Dropbox. Macademic has several posts on presentations and on sending files by email.
As other knowledge workers academics have to manage their projects, tasks and time at each of the three stages of the academic workflow. I use OmniOutliner, OmniFocus and TaskPaper for task and project management; BusyCal, Fantastical, Pomodoro, and OfficeTime for time management and tracking. In the past I tried Microsoft Entourage, Things and the HitList. This blog is also about the benefits of automation which saves time and attention from routine to more creative and important tasks. My most important automation tools are LaunchBar, TextExpander, 1Password, Hazel and DefaultFolderX. To read more, check Macademic tags: task management, project management, calendars, timing and automation.