ICCE 2019

Title: From topic and research question to published manuscript: A 10-step process to writing a research article through the use of FOSS Tools and open access information


Many academic libraries around the world have dealt with budget cuts, which limits and reduces access to resources that are behind the academic paywall. Resources such as research databases, journals, conference proceedings, proprietary software tools, etc that students and faculty rely on for publishing manuscripts can be taken away as soon as it is not fiscally viable to keep them. In this tutorial we take participants through a 10-step research process of moving from idea to published manuscript guided by the use of Free and Open Source (FOSS) tools beyond the research paywall. We discuss how to conduct research with an emphasis on FOSS tools and the use of open access resources. In this tutorial, participants will learn how to investigate and utilize open source and free software tools for brainstorming and ideating in a structured way (XMind mind mapping tool), reference management (Zotero), conducting literature reviews (InfoBoosters), academic writing (LaTeX), research management (OpenProject), and quantitative and qualitative data analysis (Julia programming language). Learning outcomes include establishing a working knowledge of the FOSS tools used in the tutorial, understanding and being able to locate the best research resources beyond the paywall (Open Access), and complete a manuscript within a 10-step process.


The tutorial is hands-on and participants are required to bring their own laptops. The software used in the tutorial is FOSS and multiplatform, so it will work on MacOS, Windows, and Linux (Operating Systems) Laptops. Below are instructions  that will allow participants to come to the tutorial with the software already installed However, we will also spend the first half hour of the tutorial aiding participants with the installation if needed. As we are installing these FOSS tools, Zotero (created at George Mason University), Infoboosters, LaTeX, X-mind, and the Julia programming language, we will give a background of what these tools are and why they are a valuable asset to use for research tools. Zotero is a FOSS reference management software, LaTeX is a FOSS document preparation system most commonly used for scientific research, but can be used for any research. Infoboosters is a tool used to simplify searches and make quick sense of information through documents accessed during literature reviews. Julia is a FOSS programming language for data analytics. OpenProject is open source project management software that can be used for research management. These tools can be used for research in any subject area.

Our ten-step process is a result of 5 years of teaching information literacy and research-based workshops in which we simplified the research process and made it more effective by incorporated FOSS tools. 

Flow and Structure of the Tutorial

  • First 30 mins: Installation of FOSS tools and selection of topic for the tutorial. Ideally we would like for everyone to already have the tools aforementioned installed. The topic will be STEM based.
  • Second 30 mins: Steps 1, 2, and 3 of the ten-step process using Xmind and OpenProject. 
  • 10 minute break.
  • 1 hour: Steps 4, 5, and 6 using Zotero and Infoboosters.
  • 30 min: Introduction to the Julia programming language for Quantitative data analysis.
  • 10 min break.
  • 20 min: Discuss steps 7-10.
  • 5 min: Any additional questions. 


Trevor Watkins - George Mason University

Contact Mr. Watkins: twatkin8@gmu.edu

Trevor Watkins is the Teaching and Outreach Librarian for George Mason University Libraries where he serves on the Teaching and Learning team for the University Libraries. He is responsible for providing library services such as information literacy instruction, workshops, research support, student and faculty teaching/learning support, and outreach expertise for the Teaching and Learning Team’s academic and co-curricular partners. He is also responsible for providing broader digital era competencies such as numeric, visual, data, spatial instruction and support for face-to-face and online education courses. His research interests include STEM Librarianship, information literacy integration models, open knowledge diffusion tools and teaching and learning theories in non-traditional spaces. Mr. Watkins holds a MS in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management and a MS in Library Information Science from Kent State University, and a MS in Computing and Information Systems from Youngstown State University. Mr. Watkins has been the recipient of a NSF Scholarship, has authored and co-authored published papers and presentations at conferences.


Dr. Feng-Ru Sheu - Kent State University

Contact Dr. Sheu: fsheu@kent.edu

Dr. Feng-Ru Sheu is an Assistant Professor and Instructional Design Librarian in University Libraries at Kent State University. She earned her master’s degree in Library Science, specialist degree in Information Science, and PhD degree (double major) in Instructional Systems Technology and Curriculum Studies at Indiana University. Her research interests include the application of learning theories and innovative technology to enhance learning, usability, and human performance. She received the Bohdan S. Wynar Research Paper Competition Award from the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) in 2017. Sheu also advocates for open education. She was a recipient of the 2015 Open Educational Resource (OER) research fellowship, and the 2017 Design with Open Educational Resources (DOER) fellowship by the Open Education Group. Her research in this area focuses on the effectiveness of open pedagogy and the impact of OER, and on making higher education more accessible and affordable for students.