Presenting Research at the 2022 Harvard Climate Pipeline Project

On June 16, 2022 I will present research on the politics of large-scale solar siting in New England at a workshop hosted by Harvard University’s Climate Pipeline Project. The Project supports early career scholars interested in the politics of climate change through mentorship, networking, and research events.

The 2022 program can be found here.

“Smart Solar Amherst” Sign

Participant in the Radcliffe Institute Accelerator Workshop on the Politics of Climate Change

On June 15th, I will participate in an accelerator workshop hosted by Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. The day’s events include sessions on local climate politics, comparative and international politics, strategies for climate change action, and more. I am thrilled to be selected for this special event!

New project looks at the role of nonprofits in the energy transition

The siting of new large-scale solar (and other types of renewable energy) facilities raise a host of issues and questions for communities and environmental organizations.

For instance, how do environmental groups reconcile their mission-specific purposes with the potential impact of new facilitates? When and where do organizations decide to get involved? What is the relationship between local chapters and national offices in terms of their support for renewable energy?

To understand how and where environmental nonprofit organizations engage with renewable energy siting, this research examines nonprofit activity in siting decisions for a selection of large-scale (utility-scale) solar proposals. The analysis documents where nonprofits are engaging, what issues they are raising, and also reports on the outcome of the subject projects to understand the role of nonprofits in renewable energy siting.

I will present initial results of my research at the annual conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) in Raleigh, NC on November 17-19, 2022.

A Couple of Useful Hacks for Perusall

This is a short post sharing a couple of tricks for using the learning management system (LMS) plugin called Perusall.

This semester I am teaching remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to find ways to make class more social and provide students with the opportunity to learn from each other and be incentivized to complete assigned reading. The University of Massachusetts Amherst uses Moodle, the free, open source learning management system (LMS). Moodle integrates with Perusall.

How to copy text in Perusall

Tip 1: Perusall prevents users from copying and pasting text. Check out this short video on how to get around this using the browser Safari (the tip may apply to other browsers, but only Safari is shown here).

How to copy & paste text in Perusall by disabling JavaScript.

How to manage notifications in Perusall

Tip 2: Students say that they like Perusall but that the notifications become overwhelming. Well, there is good news, Perusall allows you to control notifications! Check out this video to see how:

How to manage notifications in Perusall.

Social Science Phone Interview Software: Otter wins

If you are conducting research involving interviews conducted over the phone, you may be presented with a challenge: how do you capture the call, transcribe the call, and archive it?

Interview Software Comparison:

In this post I cover three interview software options and explain why I think Otter.ai is the best option for most research needs. If you have better solutions, please join the conversation!

Continue reading “Social Science Phone Interview Software: Otter wins”

How to write and organize article reviews: a beginner’s guide written by a beginner

Reviewing manuscripts for publication is a unique and rewarding activity. Reviewers get to stay on top of new research and feel good about giving back to the field. It also takes a lot of time and energy.

The following discussion is intended to guide reviewers from start to finish in completing manuscript reviews. Each reviewer develops his or her own style and approach to reviews; you should adapt this information and the template attached at the end of the post to suit your style.

This post represents my experience reviewing manuscripts as well as information and advice I received at a doctoral student workshop at the Public Management Research Conference (PMRC) in June, 2017. Thank you workshop organizers!

Chapters 4 and 6 from the following book informed this post as well: Baruch, Yehuda, Sherry E. Sullivan, and Hazlon N. Schepmyer. 2006. Winning reviews: A guide for evaluating scholarly writing. New York; Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan.

Continue reading “How to write and organize article reviews: a beginner’s guide written by a beginner”

Using Google Forms for Literature Reviews

In this post, I discuss using Google Forms to organize a literature review with co-authors. Google Forms is designed to be used as survey software, but I have found it works for article reviews as well. Google Forms gathers responses to form fields and sends that data to a Google Sheet. It’s not complicated, but the beauty is that if you are working with multiple collaborators, all the data goes into the same place and in the same format.

Keep you data consistent

One of the challenges of gathering data with other researchers is achieving consistency and version control across users. Google Forms allows you to pre-set the type of answers that are acceptable, whether it be paragraph text, numbers, drop-down menues, or other types of data.

In the screenshot below, I am working in the survey field editor. You can see a form field with pre-set choices for the type of article: theory, practice, or teaching. Each form is editable and you can enable as many people as you wish to have various levels of permission in terms of changing, duplicating, or inviting others to collaborate.


The Data

For articles I’m reading for literature reviews, I use the following form field headers:

  • Citation
  • Research Question
  • Contribution to the Literature
  • Main Argument or Findings
  • Research Design & Data Sources
  • Theoretical Approach
  • Generalizability
  • Implications for Theory or Practice
  • Additional Research Cited
  • My Thoughts

Once you’ve created your form field questions to gather the information you want, just begin filling our the form. In the case of literature reviews, I use one form per citation.

You can preview the entered data either directly in the Google Sheets or use the summary tools Google provides in the Forms application which are formatted for easy viewing of the data in  each form field.

App Integration

If you want to use Google Forms in conjunction with other applications, you can browse Google approved Ad-ons or create your own workflows. One workflow I created was to send each form entry (article review) to my Evernote email address which automatically populates to Evernote notes.  Of course you can also export the data to other formats such as Excel.


Google allows you to customize your forms in both appearance and content. For example, in the screenshot below you can see I selected a gray-green header with a light gray background for my form. The dropdown box provides additional color palette options. You can also change the font size and style.

Now, all that is left is to write #acwri

Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software for Literature Reviews

This post is about my search for a qualitative data analysis (QDA) software solution for writing literature reviews. I review ATLAS.ti 8 and NVivo for Mac.

One of the challenges of writing a dissertation is compiling, organizing, and synthesizing sources. Reference managers such as Mendeley and EndNote are great for inserting bibliographic information into text documents or grouping sources by chosen tags, but they are not great for coding and analyzing connections between documents or keeping track of ideas and thoughts. Note-taking software such as Evernote is great for taking notes from classes or articles, clipping webpages, and organizing thoughts, but again, there is limited functionality for drawing connections between bodies of literature or visualizing connections. Hence the need for a software capable of organizing, coding, and connecting concepts, ideas, and themes.

Both NVivo and ATLAS.ti are designed for executing qualitative (text based) research. To be fair, neither program is specifically designed for writing literature reviews, however, literature reviews are essentially qualitative data analysis. This review is specific to the Mac versions of the two softwares which have slightly different functionality than the Windows versions.

Below are short bulleted lists of the pros and cons of each program. I ended up choosing ATLAS.ti because PDF rendering issues in NVivo were bad enough to be prohibitive of its use. I also have a feeling that knowing how to use ATLAS.ti will serve me in the future when I conduct qualitative research projects outside of literature reviews. However, had the rendering not been a problem, NVivo is easier and more effective for the purpose of conducting lit reviews. One additional suggestion that may make coding texts easier is to get a subscription to Adobe Acrobat Pro (they have special student pricing too) and use the enhance PDF tool to OCR every PDF you plan on importing into ATLAS.ti or any other QDA program. This process help with text recognition when you are selecting and coding text.

NVivo for Mac

Example of a list of coded text from one document in NVIVO
Example of a list of coded text from one document in NVivo. Click image for full-size.


  • Easy to create and code documents
  • Allows document importation from citation managers such as Mendeley
  • Allows memos to be edited and coded just like core document files
  • Has text query capability
  • Provides summary of coded text with marker for source document (see screenshot below)
  • Easy to create code hierarchies wherein multiple codes can be subcategories of a higher level code


  • PDFs do not properly render leading to choppy, slow scrolling action and in some cases, total program freeze—this makes the program very slow to use
  • When viewing documents with coded text visible, there seems to be a bug that causes the view to default back to the original hidden setting instead of your preferred view

Pricing As of January 9, 2017:

  • Student annual subscription $103
  • Student Full subscription $570

ATLAS.ti for Mac

Article coding in Atlas.ti.
Article coding in ATLAS.ti. Click image for full-size.


  • Easy to create and code documents
  • Decent PDF rendering and performance
  • Lots of functionality beyond coding including visualization, quantitative-type analysis of qualitative data, and network analysis capability
  • Sophisticated user interface


  • Cannot import bibliographic files with metadata and accompanying PDFs
  • Cannot code memos
  • Cannot edit documents even if they are in RTF or .docx formats
  • Cannot link memos to documents easily
  • Cannot easily create code hiearchies


  • 2-Year Student license $99


Neither tool is perfect: NVivo has performance issues, but good functionality for the purposes of a lit review. Maybe in the future, once they solve these issues, it will be a clear winner. For now, the bugs cripple the application beyond usability for me.

I’m in the early stages of getting to know ATLAS.ti and will post an update when I have new information to share.