Skip to main content

UBC Research Commons: Learn more about our team!

Featured Instructor: Elham Esfandiari

This year we have been so lucky to have Elham join our UBC Library Research Commons team. Her presence and care are immediately obvious when you meet her. She’s been a wonderful asset to our team, and a great teacher for the graduate students who join her for citation management workshops and one-on-one consultations.

We are so excited to introduce you to the many wonderful sides of Elham through this brief introduction she composed at our request:

I am a PhD student in Rehabilitation Sciences and already have a BSc and MSc in Prosthetics and Orthotics. I am working on a user-centred self-management program for people with lower limb amputation for my PhD dissertation. My background and 6 years of working with veterans with lower limb injuries, inspired me to focus my research on this project.

For the past 4 months, I have been an instructor for citation management tools at the UBC Library Research Commons. For my own research I use EndNote, which I started to use 10 years ago. The current version on my computer was a generous gift from one of my mindful friends. I could not work without citation management tools. All of my work, libraries, and tracking of papers is saved in my EndNote library on my computer. In my opinion all citation management tools have similarities and differences, but I have found them all to be user-friendly and helpful for organizing my work.

In my opinion, all students need certain tools to facilitate their studies, especially post-graduate students who focus on research. UBC Library Research Commons offers free workshops in many of these areas. It would be great if all UBC students learned about the UBC Library Research Commons services at their orientation sessions so they would not miss out on these free services. Citation tools are necessary and should be applied in your work from the beginning of your research journey. If you wait until the middle or latter part of your research, sorting through your citations will be much more confusing and time consuming. However, if you start your research with a citation management tool, you will be organized from the start!

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is gardening. However, I don’t have access to garden, here, so, I keep many plants in my apartment. Also, I like to paint. I’ve never taken a course in painting, but I have painted several boards in oil, as well as fluid acrylic painting. All of the paintings in my apartment are my own work. Even if I do not judge them as “good,” I like them a lot. And last but not least, I love drinking red wine, especially as Sangria. I also love Merlot because it is a little sweet. I am from Shiraz, Iran. Shiraz is famous as a city of wine, poets, and flowers in Iran. As one of the poets in Shiraz said: “Blessed Shiraz and its examples, Oh God keep it from demise.”

To find out more about any of the resources that Elham mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

Whether you are starting, in the middle, or finishing your thesis, Elham can help you get your citations sorted out! Bring your questions to Elham in one of her workshops or one-on-one consults.

Featured Instructor: Chantal Lyons-Stevenson

Looking for guidance with Microsoft Word? Meet one of the UBC Library Research Commons' resident Word experts — Chantal.  With her teaching partner Nasim, this powerhouse duo works tirelessly to optimize resources (workshops, consults, online FAQs) to help you with your thesis formatting. 

Chantal brings a warmth and enthusiasm for helping others to the classroom and consults. These skills are also showcased when she works on the Research Help Desk in both the Koerner and Woodward Libraries. We had a chance to find out a little bit more about Chantal recently: 

 

What areas does your own graduate research focus on?

I’m pursuing a Master of Library and Information Studies at the UBC iSchool; it’s a course-based program, so I’m lucky to study a variety of topics. In particular, I’m interested in how people find and navigate information; I’m currently preparing a self-directed study on how women with chronic illnesses use social media for health research.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your work? How did you use them?

Anything related to thesis formatting - and I’m not even writing a thesis! My program involves a lot of group work, so tools like headings and captions help make organized, easy-to-read documents that look professional.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

How many resources we have available online. If you can’t make it out to a workshop, you can still explore the website for FAQ pages, templates, video tutorials, and more.

 

We heard you are a K-pop fan. How did this interest start? If you met someone who was just getting into K-pop, in which direction would you steer them?

A friend shared a music video with me, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I'm still pretty new, but if you’re interested in exploring some music then I’d recommend BTS; they've just released a new album. You can also check out IU, Blackpink, Loona, EXO, and Twice, and then see where your Youtube recommendations take you from there.

 

To find out more about any of the resources that Chantal mentioned (except K-pop ), email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

Whether you are almost done or not even started your thesis, bring your questions to Chantal in one of her workshops or one-on-one consults.

Featured Instructor: Cecilia Vadala

Cecilia (Cece) is not only a fixture on our UBC Library Research Commons team, but also in the Koerner Library (working with us for many years, during her undergraduate and now graduate studies). As soon as you meet Cece you feel her enthusiasm and positivity. At the library we've witnessed her aptitude for being up for most any challenge. She is an outstanding problem-solver and colleague, as she is at once creative and encouraging to others.

Come to the UBC Library Research Commons for help with your citations with Cece. You will see how eager she is to help you and simplify your life! We were lucky enough to catch up with Cece and ask her some questions: 

What areas does your own graduate research focus on?

I am pursuing an MFA in Theatre Design and Production; My graduate work is part theoretical research and part design projects. My graduate research focuses on the scenic design practice, more specifically I am interested in investigating the way in which the theatrical space qualifies as heterotopia and how the idea of design as storytelling is contributing to the creation of this type of space.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your work? How did you use them?

As an MFA student my work is mainly project based and design is the key component, but I am still using citation management tools like Mendeley and Refworks to collect and organize material for the theoretical aspect of my research. And I will for sure ask for the advice of the Thesis Formatting team when I am ready to write my thesis.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

As a new graduate student at UBC you have so many services and resources available to you, that it is understandable to sometimes feel a little bit lost. My suggestion would be to not let this feeling overcome you and plan to actively discover all your options one or two at a time. In the end you probably will not use all of the resources, but you will feel very grateful you got to know about some of them.

Thank you to Cece for all of the creativity and positive energy she has already shared with the Research Commons; We enthusiastically look toward the future knowing her ideas and hard work will continue to lift the team.

To find out more about any of the resources that Cece mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

Whether you are not sure which citation management tool to pick or want to master Mendeley, RefWorks, or Zotero, bring your questions to Cece in one of her workshops or one-on-one consults.

Featured Instructor: David Romero

David started working in the UBC Library Research Commons in September of 2018. Since then, David, and his teaching partner Amir Michalovich, have taken the already great NVivo workshops to the next level. David's and Amir's synergy has made it possible for them to constantly improve on their already great work. Because they are constantly seeking ways to collaborate, they have been able to develop a new workshop which bridges the gap between Literature Reviews and NVivo. They also continue to offer the popular NVivo workshops to learn the program on its own. Sign-up for one or several of our NVivo workshops.

Within only a few minutes of having David as your instructor in the workshop or one-on-one consult setting, his natural ability as a teacher shines. He is not merely satisfied to share information with his peers and students. He is committed to ensuring others understand and experience the material in a way that is accessible to them. We were able to catch up with David recently and ask him a few questions.

What areas does your own graduate research focus on?

I am interested in understanding the costs that meritocratic school practices have for high-achieving students, the emotions and feelings experienced by these people; and in unpacking, from an experiential point of view, what meritocracy actually entails for actors affected by these discourses. From a general perspective, my research can be positioned in what has been called as elite schooling studies.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your work? How did you use them?

I use various reference managers. I particularly like Zotero, but I also have experience using Mendeley and EndNote. I learned to use them working on different professional and academic projects and I find them really useful to enrich the process of conducting lit reviews. I have also used qualitative data analysis software in different situations: evaluating higher education projects and organizing the unstructured data that I have produced during my fieldwork.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

I think that if you want to take advantage of the resources that the RC has, you have to do it early in your career/degree. This would allow you to have a closer relationship with the literature you are working with and with the data that you are analyzing and maybe, if you are systematic enough, to be more productive and return to your sources to reanalyze them in the future.


To find out more about any of the resources that David mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

Regardless of how much or little you know about qualitative data analysis, bring your questions to David in one of his workshops or one-on-one consults.

Featured Instructor: Mohammad Saroar Zubair

This past September Mohammad joined our Quantitative Data Analysis team. As soon as you meet Mohammad, two things are clear. First,  Mohammad's warm personality and friendliness and second, his dedication to helping with whatever challenge you might send his way.

Ever interested in the needs of his fellow grad students, Mohammad and his teaching partner Minjeong have developed a new workshop this term to introduce grad students to R (#rstat). While evolving their SPSS workshops this past semester, through surveys and various analytics, they were able to discern ways to improve the content of their SPSS workshops and also expand their offerings to be current with the UBC grad student population needs (with additions such as the new R workshop).

Mohammad also has an integral role with the UBC LIbrary Research Commons team outside of his classroom and consult hours. He uses his expertise in SPSS and R to analyze data from the entire Research Commons operations so that the entire team can adapt in their various areas and optimize offerings. 

Mohammad has offered a positivity to the team that helps us all be better! Recently we had a chance to catch up with Mohammad and ask him a few questions.

What areas does your own graduate research focus on?

My graduate research in Human Nutrition focusses on some important components of nutritional biomarkers, epidemiology and public health. I am conducting research on riboflavin status in older adult women in Metro Vancouver. Riboflavin is a micronutrient that is important for numerous metabolic functions in the human body and can be linked to various non-communicable diseases.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your work? How did you use them?

My first connection to Research Commons (RC) was when I attended a workshop on Mendeley during the first year of my graduate program. I have been using it since then to organize my in-text citation and bibliography for my research proposal, manuscript and thesis. Now I am using RC’s thesis template to shape my thesis and the workshop on Thesis Formatting: Tips and Tricks was very helpful. Currently, I am learning NVIVO by attending workshops facilitated by the qualitative team at RC, which I hope to use in the future to conduct mixed-method research.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

Research Commons has some excellent resources, and many of its workshops and consultation services for graduate students are offered by peer graduate students; they may be more accessible to students because peer educators can better empathize with the learning obstacles that their fellow students face.


To find out more about any of the resources that Mohammad mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

Regardless of how much or little you know about quantitative data analysis, bring your questions to Mohammad in one of his workshops or one-on-one consults.

Featured Instructor: Minjeong Park

When you start to learn SPSS or R from Minjeong, it is only moments before you notice her unique ability for making complex concepts accessible and easy to understand.

Joining our team in September 2018, Minjeong also has demonstrated her curiosity for understanding graduate student's quantitative data analysis needs at UBC. With her teaching partner Mohammad Saroar Zubair, they have made quick work of surveying grad students and will be customizing their offerings accordingly in 2019. (Survey still open!)  Keep your eyes on the newsletter for the latest information on the modified SPSS workshops, and new this semester, R Workshops!

Recently we had a chance to catch up with Minjeong and ask her a few questions.

What areas does your own graduate research focus on?

In my PhD studies in the Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology program, my research mainly focuses on quantitative methods commonly applied in psychometrics and social sciences. One aspect of my research is to explore how current quantitative methods can be extended to address research questions aptly. Meanwhile, I also am working on empirical research and applying a variety of quantitative methods in different areas such as public health, education, and psychometrics.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your work? How did you use them?

The Research Commons tools I regularly use are SPSS and R for statistical analysis. Zotero, as citation management software, is another tool I frequently use for managing in-text citations and references in my papers, which saves a lot of time and effort for formatting.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

The Research Commons is a place where graduate students can find useful resource and assistance for their research. The Research Commons team offers workshops and consultations to help students through the whole process of research from starting a literature review to writing a thesis. No matter what research stage graduate students are at, they can find useful resources here. As a graduate student I also enjoyed various workshops offered by the Research Commons.


To find out more about any of the resources that Minjeong mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

We are so lucky to have Minjeong on our team and teaching in our UBC Library Research Commons community. She takes our quantitative data analysis offerings to the next level by zeroing in on your exact needs. Regardless of how much or little you know about quantitative data analysis, bring your questions to Minjeong in one of her workshops or one-on-one consults.

Featured Instructor: Amir Michalovich

This September we were lucky enough to hire an amazing new GAA in Amir! He has an impressive resume in terms of his skill set, but perhaps his greatest contribution to our team is his love of both learning and teaching. Amir and David (Amir's teaching partner) are constantly exceeding their own goals and looking for innovative ways to provide Graduate Students with the optimal learning experience related to qualitative data analysis. Recently we had the chance to catch up with Amir to ask him a few questions. 

What areas does your PhD. research focus on?

Through my PhD, I will explore the ways in which multimodal meaning-making can facilitate refugee students’ engagement and integration in school learning. Check out the full profile about Amir and his research on the Graduate Studies website.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your PhD work? How did you use them?

I have been using CAQDAS (Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software) for more than two years now. Initially, I used ATLAS.ti for conducting content analysis in my masters’ thesis, but it soon became the primary means by which I conduct literature reviews and qualitative research. Since the past summer, I have also been using NVIVO for similar purposes. CAQDAS has been invaluable for me in keeping an audit trail of my thoughts, readings, data analysis, and methodology. I am sure that it will continue to play a major role in my planned doctoral research, comprising qualitative, quantitative and participatory arts-based research. I also plan to continue using Refworks for managing references, and SPSS for conducting quantitative analyses.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

Our team’s incessant drive to learn more about the interface between software and different research enterprises means that we try to keep a healthy dose of flexibility in the services that we provide, spanning qualitative and quantitative data analysis, citation management, writing, and thesis formatting. Thus, every inquiry and context that fellow graduate students bring to our workshops and one-on-one consultations become shared learning opportunities. Don’t miss out on them.


To find out more about any of the resources that Amir mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca.

We are so excited and grateful to have such a passionate teacher and learner in Amir. There is no longer a need to feel intimidated by NVivo and qualitative data analysis. Come by and find out just how accessible NVivo really is.

Featured Instructor: Nasim Peikazadi

We are so lucky to have Nasim back this semester. After a maternity leave Nasim returned to her PhD research this September (2018). Upon her return, Nasim hit the ground running and already has helped numerous students get their theses formatted correctly in her workshops and consults. Nasim is also an expert at Citation Management tools. Not only does she know the tools inside and out, but also is exceptional at helping others select the right tool for their needs. We had the chance to catch up with Nasim and ask her a few questions recently:

What areas does your PhD. research focus on?

My PhD work is focused on the issues impeding integration of racialized minority refugees and immigrants in Canada. I explore the pedagogical potentials of arts-based methods in constructing complex understandings of difference while pursuing the aims of transformation in the larger community.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your PhD work? How did you use them?

I have tried all the Citation Management tools taught at the Research Commons (RC) and landed on Mendeley for my graduate studies. I learned about the tool and its features through my job at the RC. I’m able to collect, organize and share my references with my colleagues through the tool. Citing and creating reference lists is much more convenient using citation management tools. I’m also planning to write my thesis in the template provided by the RC, when the time comes!

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?

Through consultations and workshops, I have met many graduate students in mid or later stages of their studies who said they wish they had known earlier about RC consultations services and workshops of Thesis Formatting, Citation Management, Nvivo and SPSS. These services are designed to meet the many research-related needs of graduate students and the RC team members do their best to accommodate those needs.


To find out more about any of the resources that Nasim mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca

Thank you so much to Nasim for all she has contributed to the Research Commons so far. Her kind and welcoming personality make her a great instructor and colleague!

Featured Instructor: Maryam Mohammadi

After over two years teaching at the Research Commons, one of our amazing team members is leaving the team. Fortunately for Vancouver, Maryam landed a job right here in the Greater Vancouver Area working in the area of her PhD research. Through her work with us at the Research Commons, we were able to learn an enormous amount from Maryam. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the Research Commons are matched only by her vast expertise in all things Citation Management- and Thesis Formatting-related. We had a chance to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions. 

What areas does your PhD. research focus on?

I am doing my PhD in Materials engineering department at UBC. In my PhD research, I am working on the removal of selenium from industrial waters. Selenium is a toxic element, which is sometimes released as a byproduct of mineral treatment by mining companies. It can cause serious health problems for humans and animals. Therefore, removal of selenium is a key issue for many industries in Canada.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your PhD work? How did you use them?

I am using the research commons thesis template for the writing of my thesis. The thesis template is pre-formatted and meets all UBC's requirements. I had some of my chapters already written so I just transferred them into the template and now I have a well formatted template. I also used Mendeley and Zotero to manage all my references during the early stages of my research and now while I am writing my thesis I am using these great tools for doing in-text citation and for the bibliography.

 

What one thing about the Research Commons do you wish more graduate students knew about?
The Research Commons offers many different workshops and individual services to help graduate students on their research journey. At any stage of their research, from finding materials to starting their literature reviews, until the final stage of writing the thesis and submitting, one can find help from the available services at the UBC Library Research Commons.


To find out more about any of the resources that Maryam mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca

We also want to take this opportunity to mention how much we will miss Maryam! She will always have a home here in the UBC Library Research Commons. Wishing you all the best with the lucky company who has hired you Maryam!

Featured Instructor: Allan Cho

Recently I had the chance to sit down with our new UBC Library Research Commons Librarian, Allan Cho. What an exciting time to have him leading the team, enabling the team to reach new heights. Here are his responses to the questions I asked him:


What areas do your current projects focus on, particularly in the areas of digital scholarship and the digital humanities?


While digital humanities is an academic field concerned with the application of computational tools and methods to traditional humanities disciplines such as literature, history, and philosophy, my interests shifted to the emergence of new DH work that extends beyond the “traditional” humanities disciplines and its applications in the social sciences or fields that do not easily and neatly fit into the “humanities” paradigm but share the same tools and language that DH practitioners. Examining this rubric of disciplinary domains, I’m analyzing spatially the UBC campus as a network of nodes and edges.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your projects?

Even before joining the Research Commons, I attended its workshops because the tools they provide helped me manage, collect, and analyze my data and texts. In particular, two popular programming languages -- Python helped me do some surface level analysis of text analysis while R has enabled me to conduct statistical analysis. When I found that I needed to organize my collection of journal articles to something manageable and accessible anywhere I go, I turned to Mendeley and Zotero citation management software. I have also enjoyed the tools that researchers share at our Pixelating DH Mixer Series. For example, I’ve picked up open source software such as Palladio and Gephi which has really been game changers in the area of social network analysis. The Research Commons even has a R Study Group for those who want to learn and share their research!

 

How are you using these tools for your projects?

I’ve enjoyed using NVivo as a tool to connect the dots in making my data faster, easier and more efficient to analyze. NVivo is excellent for social network analysis as it enables me to focus on the links between people or social entities. Sociograms in NVivo can particularly be useful in analyzing social networks by displaying them as a diagram -- helping me to visualize connections. That’s just one of the multitude of ways we can use NVivo. As a qualitative data analysis software, NVivo is perfect for those working with very rich text-based and multimedia information, where deep levels of analysis on small or large volumes of data are needed.


To find out more about any of the great resources that Allan mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca

Featured Instructor: Susan Atkey

Susan Atkey has guided the UBC Research Commons from its inception, 6 years ago. With her expertise in a wide selection of research softwares, she has been able to lead the development of curriculum for learning NVivo, SPSS, R, RefWorks, Mendeley, and Zotero, to name but a few. Under her leadership, in just the last calendar year, the UBC Research Commons team of Graduate Academic Assistants helped over 1000 students, through a combination of workshops and one-on-one consultations.

As the UBC Research Commons Librarian, Susan has spread the reach of the Research Commons across UBC. We had a chance to catch up with Susan to ask her a few Research Commons questions:


What areas do your current projects focus on, particularly in the areas of digital scholarship and the digital humanities?


I am currently deep-diving into text mining tools (e.g. Python, Voyant) to uncover patterns and relationships in large collections of texts. I’m inspired by the tools and process of social knowledge creation, collaborating openly online to produce knowledge, documents and data. I’ve been actively editing Wikipedia and Wikidata, and think there is an important role for students, instructors and librarians to contribute their subject knowledge to these and other open platforms.


Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your projects?

The Research Commons tools I use on a regular basis are NVivo for analysis of text-based data, and the citation management tools Zotero and Mendeley for managing references and collaborating on open bibliographies.

 

How are you using these tools for your projects?

NVivo is super for things like environmental scans and literature reviews because it allows you to identify themes and make connections between sources. I use Zotero for online bibliographies; see for example my Zotero bibliography on Text Mining and Academic Libraries.


To find out more about any of the great resources that Susan mentioned, email us at research.commons@ubc.ca