Harvesting Creativity

Become an Idea Person

Being able to come up with good ideas on command is a valuable – and valued – skill. In Communication World’s “Be Inspired to Innovate”, Sam Harrison shares a five-step, idea-generating methodology he designed, which begins with exploring. “Exploring is being a sponge. You absorb data and information. But what you’re really after are insights that can help you generate ideas.” Read more

Online Answers for “People Questions”

“When you are in need of a short, comprehensive biography of a famous person, there are many online resources available for consideration,” says Joann M. Wleklinski. In her Online piece Get a Life Comparing Online Biography Resources.

Along with Wikipedia, which she calls “a decent resource for a quick, first-look overview of a subject,” she reviews Biography.com, noting that its “content is for the most part reliable, but hardly comprehensive. It seems that a certain amount of sizzle about a person doesn’t hurt the individual’s being represented, either.” See the article for her assessment of general web search engines Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Read more

Subject vs. Topic

Too often students get papers back from professors with notes such as “Too broad” or “Try to narrow your focus” written on them. Narrowing your focus from a subject to a topic helps prevent you from using too much summary in your paper. Focusing on one topic allows you to fully develop and flush out new ideas of your own.

Narrowing down a subject, which is “broad and general” into a topic or “the specific issue being discussed”  makes it both manageable and arguable, says Laurie Rozakis. In Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers 2nd ed., (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007), 23, she suggests this approach for Shaping Your Ideas. Read more

Meaningful Memories

Sticking Points

Do you find yourself unable to recall important facts you’ve studied for school or work? Richard Palmer says that’s because “You have never truly concentrated on them.”

In his book Brain Train: Studying for Success, Palmer explains, “if you want something to stick, you’ve first got to ‘glue’ your mind to it. Just staring at it time and again is not likely to be very efficient. It can work, but it’s more probable that the information will skate across the surface and disappear. Writing it down is much better. For a start, more of your brain will be directly involved, because it will have to work your hand as well as absorb the visual material. Make sure, though, that you focus on what you write, otherwise the memory will vanish. Read more

Roots and Branches

Hints for looking up your family history

Whether you’re just beginning to dig into your family history or you’re ready to take your research to the next step, you’ll be dazzled by the vast genealogical resources available online and they’re growing every day.

Doing some legwork before you turn to the web will boost your effectiveness. FamilySearch – a site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and “the largest genealogy organization in the world” – recommends looking in your home for “birth, marriage, and death certificates; family bibles; funeral programs; obituaries; wedding announcements; family registers; and ancestral tablets” and other information. Also, “Make a list of other relatives and the family information they may have. Contact the relatives—visit, call, write, or e-mail them.” Find more good tips in How to Start Your Family History. Read more

Red Letter Days

“Handwritten letters are becoming a thing of the past,”

says Wendy Lustbader, adding, “We have e-mail now…” In her Aging Today essay The Demise of Letter-writing, she acknowledges, “It is true that e-mail from dear friends can be printed out and given the heft of paper. I have done this, placing each email in a file folder labeled with the friend’s name. But I prefer my shabby boxes filled with 30 years’ worth of letters from these same friends. When I open them, envelopes of different colors and shapes, stamps of all varieties and postmarks greet me. I see my name written in familiar handwriting, addressed to past domiciles…However, when I open a file folder of accumulated e-mail, I remain unmoved by those pages of bloodless, typed uniformity.” Read more

At your leisure: Good Times!

Are you taking advantage of your free time?

Most of us spend our days scrambling to get everything in. So when school or job breaks offer up a chunk of free time, we can be at a loss for how to fill it. Rather than zoning out until the hours dribble away or filling up the time with busy work, consider these fun – and frugal – alternatives. Read more

Matters of opinion

Where to look for research perspective

When you need to examine how people are reporting or commenting on different aspects of an issue or situation, these resources – among NoodleTools.com’s valuable guidelines to help Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need – are a great place to start.

Here are NoodleTools’ suggestions for opinion and perspective resources: Read more

Analyze This

How to write a good book review

A book review is “not a retelling,” emphasizes Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), nor is it “a book report or a summary.” Instead, they explain in How to Write a Book Review, it is “a description, critical analysis, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. It should focus on the book’s purpose, content, and authority. Read more

Study Strategy

Make Note

The main thing to know about note-taking, says Richard Palmer, is that “All notes that are not accompanied by solid understanding are useless.”  In Brain Train: Studying for Success (London: E & FN Spon, 1996), 102, he explains, “Your notes are both part of your thinking and a reflection of it, done as part of the preparation for a piece of work or as a record and reminder of your reading and research. Class notes…are as formal as the textbooks you study, and a significant part of your course material.” Read more