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Scaffolding Beginning Research Students Using Open Source Tools

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Emerging Computing and Information Technologies

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1053.1 - 23.1053.10



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Paper Authors


Dhana Rao Marshall University

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Dhana Rao is an Assistant Professor in Microbiology at Marshall University, West Virginia. She obtained her PhD in 2006 from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research interest are in metagenomics and bioinformatics.

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Rajeev K Agrawal North Carolina A&T University (Tech)

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Dr. Rajeev Agrawal is an assistant professor in the department of computer systems technology
at North Carolina A&T State University. He has published 30 referred journal and conference
papers and 4 book chapters. His current research focuses on Anomaly Detection in Computer Networks,
Bigdata Analytics, and Content-based Image Retrieval. He has also worked at HP Company
in transportation, Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) domains.

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Venkat N Gudivada Marshall University

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Venkat N Gudivada is a Professor of Computer Science in the College of Information Technology and Engineering at Marshall University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Center for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His current research interests are in high performance computing, software visualization, and personalized eLearning.

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Scaffolding Beginning Research Students Using Open Source ToolsRecently there has been an explosive growth in the number of academic research conferences,and both open access and subscription-based online journals. As a related development, there isan increased thrust in engaging undergraduate students in research across all universities andcolleges. Beginning student researchers in general and undergraduate students in particular haveless developed knowledge base and technical expertise in their domains. Also, undergraduatestudents have very limited time for research given their course loads and non-academic activities.In disciplines like biology and chemistry, typically students are given well-defined,experiment/simulation-driven research problems. On the other hand, in fast advancing disciplinessuch as computer science and information technology, students need to spend substantial efforteven to identify important and significant problems to work on. The above conditions createspecial challenges for carrying out tangible and significant research under time-constrainedconditions. Academic research is a multi-step process. It involves the following generic steps: (1)identifying a problem, (2) developing a solution and executing it, (3) analyzing and interpretingthe results, (4) preparing research papers and submitting them to conferences and journals, and(5) poster and oral presentations at conferences. Especially identifying a research problem is avery difficult task given the current information deluge. In this paper, we describe and illustrate how we have used various open source tools tosupport each of the steps in the academic research process (except step 2). More specifically, wediscuss tools for quickly discovering concepts to obtain unified view of a domain, automaticallyproducing summaries of research papers and grouping research papers into categories, semi-manual bibliography management, outlining and writing of papers, and professional qualitypresentations. Tools and libraries we discuss include openNLP, NLTK, Tika, R, ggplot2, textmining (tm) package of R, Wordle, bibdesk, BibTEX, and LATEX.

Rao, D., & Agrawal, R. K., & Gudivada, V. N. (2013, June), Scaffolding Beginning Research Students Using Open Source Tools Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22438

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