Category Archives: Tools to help you do your research

Try a Raspberry Pi in the Chemistry Library!


The Chemistry Library has made two Raspberry Pis available for researchers from the Department of Chemistry to use (in the Library only) on a ‘try before you buy’ basis. They are intended to provide inspiration and ideas for researchers on how they can use Raspberry Pis in their research projects.

Raspberry Pis are low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn and solve problems and have fun, as well as doing some serious research, with!

We welcome you to experiment with the Raspberry Pis and to share your knowledge and expertise on a wiki that we have created here:

The wiki provides instructions on how to set up and use the Pis in the library, examples of research projects that have used them, and information on the modules we have available (Gertbot Robotics Board, Sense HAT, and Camera modules so far). We welcome new project ideas and recommendations for additional modules.

You can edit the wiki by logging in with your Admitto password (currently researchers at the Department of Chemistry only, we might be able to consider allowing Chemistry undergraduate students to use them later on).

Alongside the Pis themselves we have a small selection of books and guides to help provide ideas for research projects and get you started. Please let us know of any other resources you think it would be useful to provide.

There is specific guidance on how to reserve and use the Pis in the library on the wiki and on posters next to them. Please follow this guidance.

Please experiment and contribute to the wiki!


Text & Data Mining LibGuide

Please have a look at this brilliant new guide on TDM!


We are keen to help the research process where we may be able to make a contribution towards facilitating text & data mining in the University.  To that end we offer a new LibGuide on text & data mining in the growing number of guides in the Cambridge Libraries’ family of LibGuides.

The aim of this guide is to make a start towards exposing the breadth of content (mostly library-subscribed) that may be of potential exploitation by Cambridge researchers wanting to use the techniques of text and data mining in their research.  The guide summarizes the main points in the Hargreaves exception and builds on and links out to professional bodies and information sources to provide librarians and University members with a beginner’s guide to first steps in TDM and considerations it is important to make.

The guide provides a means of contacting us to clear any issues that…

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Convert your files containing experimental data into an open data format


As part of the Data Champions initiative, we invite members of the Department of Chemistry to contribute to a list of instructions for converting the data you generate through experiments using techniques such as NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography etc. into open data formats that can be shared easily.

The aim is to save researchers time and effort in trying to find this out themselves, and to make it as easy as possible for them to share their data in an open format that is accessible to everyone.

First on our list are very brief instructions for converting NMR spectroscopy data from TopSpin to a text file in the internationally accepted open data format JCAMP-DX.

Please send your instructions to and they will be added to the list.

Data Champions at the Department of Chemistry

Data Champions are local experts on research data management and sharing who can provide advice and training within their departments.

Your Data Champions currently are:

We are currently planning research data management related activities that we can carry out in the department. Please let us have your ideas! Contact one of the Data Champions or Clair Castle, Librarian at the Department of Chemistry at

Please visit the Chemistry Library’s Open Data website to find out more about your Data Champions, and other resources that will help chemists do open research.

Want to work in your room but need an app which is only on University computers?

laptop-1019782_1280 (2)Use DS-Remote!

DS-Remote is a service exclusively for the use of University of Cambridge students to aid in access to Windows applications outside of the MCS for use on a device, having installed a remote desktop client.


Access your favourite cloud storage on MCS Windows

Did you know that on MCS Windows its possible to access your favourite cloud storage?

cloud-2104829_1280 (2)

Click on the Start button on the MCS (ex-PWF) machines in the Chemistry Library, or in Rooms G30 and 154:

Start -> Microsoft -> OneDrive
Start -> Dropbox -> Dropbox
Start -> Google -> Google Drive

Make your data and papers open via Symplectic

Open Access and Open Data are changing: Share everything via Symplectic

Demo of new system in the Pfizer Lecture Theatre for members of the Department of Chemistry on 28th February at 13:15


The current Open Access and Open Data services are being integrated with Symplectic Elements, which will bring many benefits to researchers, administrators and the Open Access and Open Data staff. The new system is live and we are asking researchers at the Department of Chemistry to start using it now. The benefits of the new system include:

  • you can deposit your data and articles in one place
  • you will instantly receive a placeholder DOI for data
  • your outputs get into the repository quicker, which increases their visibility
  • you enter the information about your publication once but it is used in many systems saving you time in the future
  • better reporting capabilities for the Open Access/Data, which means more accurate reports for Departments, Faculties and Schools
  • all research outputs can be uploaded to the repository via the new system

Come and see the new system being demonstrated and find out more about using it for all your research outputs. The demo will take approximately 30 minutes and there will be time for questions and answers.

Find out more here:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Thing 23 – Ultimate Research Tool

Well done Georgina!

23 Research Things Cambridge

We’ve covered a lot of tools and concepts over the past few weeks. 22 tools and concepts to be precise and if you’re still with us at this point then well done! We are almost at our last and final Thing…the unveiling of the Ultimate Research Tool.

One tool to rule them all…you get the idea. So check out the Ultimate Research Tool video to find out what on earth it is. Go on! Now!

Video transcript

Now you’ve watched the video, gosh. What a reveal!

Thing 23 activities

Reflect on and blog about the Ultimate Research Tool. Do you agree with our choice and what role does the tool play in your life? Will you use it differently in the future now you’ve taken this programme and watched the video above?

Also, take some time to reflect and blog about the overall 23 Research Things programme. What were the…

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Thing 18 – Research Data Management (RDM)

23 Research Things Cambridge

Welcome to Week 7! This week we’re going to be looking at Managing Your Data.

Good management of your data is critical to the success of any project, whether it is an academic piece of research or something a bit more day-to-day such as filing important documents or even moving house. Everyone generates data throughout their working lives and you might not always realise that just because you aren’t using spreadsheets and statistics, you are still working with data.

Data can present itself in many different forms and all disciplines use data in some form so it isn’t just limited to the subjects you would expect such as the sciences. Plus, good Research Data Management practices in your work can help you be more organised in your personal life too as these skills can apply to lots of different situations.

So, what is good RDM? Check out this video…

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Thing 17 – Survey tools

23 Research Things Cambridge

Sometimes you need to run a survey. Whether simple or complex, getting the right tool for creating your survey is key. There are lots of free versions out there such as Survey Monkey but the paid-for options are often quite expensive. Well there’s good news as the University of Cambridge subscribes to the brilliant Qualtrics package.

Check out our video to find out why we think Qualtrics is so good.

Video transcript

Thing 17 activities

Sign up for a Qualtrics account through UIS
(University of Cambridge members only. Sorry.)

Create a small survey (around 5 questions) on any topic

Tweet a link to your survey and share it

Check out any results that come in through exploring the results functionality

Write a blogpost about your experience of using Qualtrics as well as any previous experience with survey software

Thing 17 learning outcomes

You should have explored the options offered by…

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Thing 15 – Collaboration tools

23 Research Things Cambridge

Welcome to Week 6! This week we’re looking at Collaboration in Research.

At some point in your work you will need to work collaboratively with another person, or a group of people. Sending countless emails back and forth during a project can be quite time-consuming and even confusing when you can’t remember which version of a document you might be working on. Plus, trying to get a convenient time to meet arranged can be equally frustrating.

As you probably guessed, there are many tools out there that can help streamline collaborative work so check out this video and go on a collaborative journey with us.

Video transcript

We also have this handout summarising the tools covered in the video.

Going further…

The University Information Services team now offer access to OneDrive for all members of the University of Cambridge. This gives you secure cloud storage, the option…

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Thing 12 – Presenting and sharing

23 Research Things Cambridge

The key to any good presentation is engaging your audience. This can be done through having a good speaker, excellent slides, and making sure your audience is able to follow your discussion and thought process through to its conclusion. Too much information crammed onto a slide or too much technical jargon can lose an audience quickly, but never fear. Thing 12 will look at some great ways to deliver a successful presentation.

(Note: The sourcing good images and Creative Commons videos mentioned will be covered in Thing 13 and Thing 14 so you can jump ahead if you want or just stick with Thing 12 for now.)

Video transcript

Of course, not everyone can get to your fantastic talk or those that did might want to have a copy of your slides so they can follow up on some of your points later. If you’re lucky you might be at…

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Thing 11 – Communicating for free

23 Research Things Cambridge

People can get their information from a range of different places these days and YouTube is an extremely popular source of quick, visual information. Anyone can use YouTube to watch content and upload their own content. You don’t need anything too fancy either, often just a microphone with some images will do or a quick few shots using a handy mobile phone or even just talking to your laptop’s inbuilt webcam. You can also hold a Google Hangout where people talk about a certain topic in real time. Check out our convenient YouTube video learn more.

Video transcript

We’ve used YouTube for all of the videos for this programme because it means that anyone can benefit from the things we are exploring as they are publicly accessible and (hopefully) short and informative. Plus, with a relatively simple range of kit, we were able to create content that allows viewers to…

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Thing 10 – Communicating complex ideas

23 Research Things Cambridge

Welcome to Week 4 where we will be looking at the theme of Communicating Ideas.

We’re doing something a little bit different for Thing 10, so rather than show you a new tool we’re going to talk about the often difficult nature of communicating research and complex ideas to audiences other than the academic community who may not have the same knowledge that you do. An integral part of any academic work, having the skills to communicate your subject area and what makes it interesting is important especially if you find yourself wanting to do public engagement and outreach.

We spoke with Cambridge University’s Ryan Cronin about his work with researchers and how he has translated specialist facts into something more accessible to a wide range of audiences. So, check out the podcast interview.

Podcast transcript

We also uploaded the podcast to audioBoom so you can check it out there…

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Thing 9 – Alternative online communities for research

23 Research Things Cambridge

One of the best things about the internet is that it allows people from around the world to set up groups based around pretty much any subject and share their thoughts together. These sorts of places can be informal forums, chat threads and more.

For Thing 9, we will look at three alternative spaces for research communities that have become established over the past decade or so: Reddit, Wikipedia and GitHub. Check out the video below for more.

Video transcript

Check out this brief guide to each of the spaces covered in the video.

Thing 9 activities

Test out one of the alternative online spaces that we have discussed

Blog about your experience and whether you would use any of the spaces in the future

Learning outcomes

You should be able to understand cooperative online engagement

You should have had the opportunity to interact with alternative online communities


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Thing 8 – and ResearchGate

23 Research Things Cambridge

There’s a lot of social media stuff out there, but what about social media dedicated to academic communities? There are currently two main platforms offering services for academics and researchers: and ResearchGate. Both platforms allow for researchers to set up a profile, link to their research, engage with other researchers and follow research outputs in their areas of interest.

These platforms are often compared to Facebook which is a fairly accurate description as they are both run by for-profit organisations and this can cause complications with ownership of research if you do upload your work to their website. However, as tools to promote your work and connect with other people working in your area, both platforms have a lot of offer.

In this video, we will break down the various pros and cons of each platform to help you decide which one might be a good one for you to…

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Thing 4 – Pulling in information

23 Research Things Cambridge

Welcome to Week 2! This week’s theme is all about Gathering Information.

There’s a lot of information out there with news and discoveries being released every minute. So how do you keep up with this constant barrage of content?

Watch this video to find out more.

Video transcript

Here’s a guide on how to set up your Feedly. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s covered in the video above!

Here’s a guide on how to set up a Zetoc Alert.

Check out this guide on getting started with Pocket.

Also check out this PDF of all of the tools we’ve discussed at a glance with their various benefits.

Thing 4 activities

Test out some of the tools we’ve covered today

Write a blogpost about your experience of using some of these tools

Would you use them in your daily work? Are they useful or…

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23 Research Things programme launching 10th October

I really encourage you to take part in the new 23 Research Things programme which has been developed by colleagues from the Betty & Gordon Moore Library. It launches on Monday 10th October.

What is this 23 Research Things?

23 Research Things is a training programme that will introduce you to 23 research tools or concepts to help inform your studies, research, or knowledge of the research process.

Who is it for?

Anyone can take part in the 23 Research Things programme whether you are working at undergraduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral, or researcher/academic level. Those working directly with students and researchers are also welcome to take part.

So what are you going to cover?

All topics will be presented as a video overview with some specific examples to give context so you can apply them to your own individual situation. We’ll be covering a whole range of different things such as using Twitter for research, how to collaborate using tools, and how to communicate ideas and research to different audiences.

When will it be and how much time will it take?

The 23 Research Things programme will run during Michaelmas Term 2016, starting officially on 10 October and running through to Friday 2 December 2016. We will release around 2-3 new ‘things’ each week for you to explore and experiment with. The programme is self-directed and reflective so all participants are encouraged to blog about their experiences of the ‘things’ that we cover.

Anyone can join the programme at any time and dip in and out of topics if you do not have time to do the whole thing but anyone who does blog about all 23 Research Things during the running of the programme will get a shiny certificate at the end plus our eternal gratitude and respect for being so dedicated.

You can find out much more about the topics that will be covered here:

There’s also an an overview and timetable here:

Launch of new library catalogue interface, iDiscover


The new library catalogue interface, iDiscover, has now been launched

iDiscover has replaced LibrarySearch and LibrarySearch+. The Newton catalogue will be available until August 2017 when the new library management system goes live.

iDiscover combines the print and electronic resources available within the University in one search interface, which offers simple and more advanced searching.

Please do let us have your feedback on this new interface at

You can find out more at

Helping Researchers Publish event 27 September

Would you like to discover resources to help with the process of writing, editing and publishing your research?

If ‘yes!’ then this event is for you. The Office of Scholarly Communication invites researchers and graduate students in all disciplines to join them on 27th September in Lecture Room 6 and Library Seminar Room, Department of Engineering, 0900-1300, for a tour of resources for Helping Researchers Publish.

Find out more and book a place here: