Toolbox for Researchers - Issue One: Self-Organization and Data Visualization

    Today we open a new section in which we will talk about the most popular and affordable services, libraries and utilities for students, scientists and specialists.

    In the first issue, we’ll talk about basic approaches that will help you work more efficiently, and related SaaS services. Still - we will share tools for data visualization. Chris Liverani / Unsplash Tomato Method

    . This is a time management technique. It is designed to make your work more productive and enjoyable in terms of labor. In the late eighties, it was formulated by Francesco Cirillo. And for several decades now he has been advising companies and helping people work more efficiently. The essence of the technique is as follows. To solve a particular problem, fixed time periods are given out of your to-do list, followed by short breaks. For example, 25 minutes to work and 5 minutes to rest. And so several times or “tomatoes” until the task is completed (it is important not to forget to take a longer break for 15-30 minutes after four such cycles in a row.

    This approach allows you to achieve maximum concentration and not to forget about the breaks so necessary for our body. Of course, for such a simple way of organizing time, a huge number of applications have been developed. We picked up some interesting options:

    • Pomodoro Timer Lite ( Google Play ) - a timer without unnecessary features and advertising.

    • Clockwork Tomato ( Google Play ) is a more “heavyweight” option with a customizable interface, features for analyzing the progress of work and synchronizing task lists with services like Dropbox (partially paid).

    • Productivity Challenge Timer ( Google Play ) is a harsh application that will help you compete in productivity with yourself (partially paid).

    • Pomotodo ( various platforms ) - a to-do list and a tomato timer are implemented here. Another is the synchronization of data from different devices (Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, there is an extension in Chrome). Partly paid.

    GTD . This is the approach that David Allen suggested. His book of the same name from 2001 received the title of “Best Business Book of the Decade” according to Time, as well as positive reviews from many publications and tens of thousands of readers. The main idea is to transfer all planned affairs to an “external medium” in order to free yourself from the need to remember everything. Lists of tasks should be divided into groups: at the place of implementation - home / office; by urgency - now / in a week; and on projects. There’s a good tutorial to learn GTD quickly .

    Like the Tomato method, the GTD technique by default does not require any specific tools. Moreover, not all application developers are willing to pay for the right to associate their product with this technique. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on those to-do-managers who seem personally to you the most convenient and suitable for solving problems. Here are some of the most popular applications: Todoist , and Taskade (each of them offers a free version and a paid use of additional features).

    Mind mapping . In one form or another, there is evidence of the use of the graphical method of categorizing information back in the 3rd century A.D. uh. Modern approaches to the construction of "mental maps" were outlined in the late 50s and early 60s of the last century. Mine mapping programs are suitable for quickly describing ideas and simple concepts. Here are a couple of examples:

    • My Mind is a service for creating mental maps in the cloud (the user can use different templates, for example, graphs or trees, as well as different shapes and colors of elements, maps can be saved as images).

    • MindMup - SaaS for teamwork with mental maps. Allows you to add images, videos and text documents to cards. In the free version, you can save cards up to 100 Kbytes (for the more "heavy" ones, there is integration with Google Drive) and only for six months.

    • GoJS mindMap is an example of a solution on GoJS, a JavaScript library for creating graphs and charts. An example implementation on GitHub .

    Franki Chamaki / Unsplash

    Data Visualization . We continue the topic and move from services to visualize ideas and concepts towards more complex tasks: building diagrams, function graphs, and others. We give examples of tools that may be useful:

    • JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit is a toolkit for building visualizations in an interactive format. Allows you to build graphs, trees, charts and graphs with animation elements. Examples are available here . The author of the project, a former Uber engineer and Mapbox employee (a project with 500 million users), maintains detailed documentation for this tool.

    • is an open tool for working with mathematical functions and performing symbolic calculations in a browser (the API is still available ).

    • D3.js is a JavaScript library for visualizing data using DOM object models in the format of HTML tables, interactive SVG diagrams and others. On GitHub you will find a basic guide and a list of tutorials for mastering the basic and advanced features of the library.

    • - supports the TeX computer layout system . The TikZiT cross-platform application allows you to build and edit TeX diagrams using the PGF and TikZ macro packages. Examples of ready-made diagrams and graphs and project forum .

    • BoxPlotR - helps build block charts . BoxPlotR is launched from the virtual machine, in the browser and from the R-console. Github project.

    PS We decided to start the first release of our toolbox with enough basic tools to give everyone an opportunity to immerse themselves in the topic without any special difficulties. In the next issues we will consider other topics: we will talk about working with data banks, text editors and tools for working with sources.

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