Monday, December 11, 2017

Google Scholar profile - using to extend own research

As a consequence of obtaining a gmail account, through the set up of this blog, I entered the Google eco-system over 15 years ago. Since then, I have gradually worked my way through the various Google tools availed.

Although I do not use Google docs etc. due to my institutions 'microsoft environment' policies, I will be starting to use the various tools on this platform as I ease my way into retirement.

At the moment, I use gmail as my personal email account. Chrome is my web browser of choice as my favourites etc. travel with me across the various devices I access. I have several albums on Picasa (now Google photos), which revolve around personal interests. In particular my continual learning on plants seen on tramps around the NZ South Island. Also maintain a list of books on Google books, use google+ to archive readings for the eassessment project, a play list on youtube of various tedtalks etc., rely on Google maps to get around, google translate and have just started using Google Keep.

The google platform I use the most at the moment, is Google Scholar. Not so much for searching for articles as the institutional databases yield relevant articles etc. but to keep an eye on publishing which is akin to my own.

Firstly, the recommended articles are always pertinent to check out. Then Google Scholar Alerts provide a range of articles 3 times a week to browse. Not all of the 100 articles or so each week will be relevant, but there will be at least a couple  which can be added to my research Endnotes database. The alerts help me to keep up with contemporary work on the topics I am interested in, including apprenticeship, workplace learning, vocational education, occupational identity and practical skills learning. The trick is to put in a key word that is not going to generate lists of 100s of articles every few days, but to narrow the search field down to provide a dozen or so articles in each of the fields each week.

The third important use is to keep track of citations to my work. This is not only a nice to have, as one is able to see the citations steadily mount up across the years, but also provides great connection to other researchers. So far, my Google scholar profile shows 38 articles, of which 28 have at least one citation. The 6 with only one citation are not through self-citation! The citations provide a good range of researchers to follow and an indication of where each topic may be heading.

My reflections on seeing the citations collected are:
- my decision to concentrate on studying apprenticeship and remain in the field of vocational education has been justified. A decade ago, I was also working in the area of mlearning, a largely emergent field. However, there are now a large number of researchers on mlearning. Plus mlearning is now mainstream with  research merging with elearning, making the field even larger. Trying to establish oneself as a researcher in a large field is always going to be challenging. So keeping to a field which is less 'popular' allows for greater visibility and the opportunity to gain a foothold in academia.
- Interest in apprenticeship as a system and as learning approach has and will increase over the next few years. Due in part to many countries grappling with high youth unemployment; the requirement to increase skills and training in specialist technical and vocational occupations; the aging workforce which includes the need to harness the 'wisdom'of an exiting workforce; the introduction of 'degree' apprenticeships in the UK and Ireland; and increase in apprenticeship systems in China and India.
- Selection of journals to publish in is important. Constructing a corpus of literature with some sort of overarching theme is also important. So mine has been a series of articles in Vocations and Learning on  'how apprentices learn'. I am now meeting other researchers at conferences, who are interested in this corpus of work and cite my articles.
- Indications for the future will be to keep working on pertinent scholarship in vocational education, but to avoid a 'scatter gun' approach to publication.
- there is still a great need for publication - not necessarily in text - of resources which will be accessible to practitioners. I will need to work on this aspect going forward.

So, some strategic thinking required over the summer to put together a plan :)

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