An Introduction to DiRT: Digital Research Tools

As a reference and instruction librarian, I generally provide assistance on where and how to search for information. After that, there’s certainly a lot left to do: organize information, analyze information, format information in a paper…the list goes on. Luckily, numerous technologies exist to help undergraduates, graduates, and faculty with these facets of research; however, it is hard to know everything that is available.

This is where DiRT can help.

DiRT, or Digital Research Tools, is a wiki created and maintained by several institutions of higher education. This resource is a collaborative effort amongst individuals who want to share new technologies that have helped them in some aspect of the research process by aggregating the resources in one location.

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The DiRT wiki is organized into areas like write a paper or analyze texts where digital research tools might help. As you can see, there are numerous areas where DiRT can provide you with a useful research tool. At the Reference and Information Literacy Department of Ekstrom Library, we frequently help with managing bibliographic information. For example, several librarians in our department teach classes on how to use EndNote.

DiRT’s manage bibliographic information link contains a list of resources to help you do just that. Each list of resources features limiters, much like those found in a library database. You can limit by operating system, cost, and resources that are most commented on and utilized. While some software listed costs money, many resources compiled on DiRT are open source. Ultimately, this tool gives you options. For example, if you’re not keen on EndNote (a bibliographic management tool that is free to UofL students and faculty through iTech Xpress), you can always use Zotero, an open source bibliographic management tool.

Here’s how wiki editors present a resource:

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Since ‘wiki’ is synonymous with collaboration, YOU can contribute. Share any tools not already on DiRT that have helped you with your research, or review resources like you would for a product on Amazon or a restaurant on Yelp. A new feature allows you to suggest digital research tools for creation.

Visit DiRT at http://dirt.projectbamboo.org/ and see what kinds of digital research tools can work for you.



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