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Beyond Deakin: Supporting you into the future

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Learn to work efficiently and effectively in a work environment by developing an understanding of the practical, legal and ethical requirements of managing information in the workplace.


Tools for storing and sharing

Cloud storage

There are numerous options for storing and sharing your information. Your workplace may have their own dedicated integrated information management system but often organisations may use more openly available cloud systems.

In the workplace there will often be multiple people working on the same documents. Cloud storage has become common place as it can help avoid losing information, manage version control, and can enable group workflow.

Using cloud storage allows you to work from anywhere, from devices other than your usual computer.

Key features tend to be synced up-to-date documents, and the ability to collaborate with others, often simultaneously. This involves storing your documents somewhere other than your computer's local storage hard drive, usually on the provider's server based storage.

There are plenty of options for this kind of anywhere-anytime access model. Examples include OneDriveGoogle Drive, and Dropbox. Your choice will depend on factors such as what type of files you want to store and how many, security requirements, whether you need to collaborate with others, and devices able to access and/or edit documents. Some services provide free accounts, but there are usually some limitations with these - generally storage space. Paid accounts tend to offer more storage, more security and more features.

                              Tip

Check that the terms and conditions are suitable for your needs and are compliant with your workplace's policies.

Reference management

Reference management tools can be used to store references, and to organise these using features such as groups, labels, and notes. These tools also integrate with word processing software such as MS Word to easily create in-text citations and reference lists using the style needed, e.g. APA, Harvard, or Vancouver.

As a graduate you may no longer need to prepare written reports using the same level of referencing as required for your assignments. But you may still wish to monitor interesting or useful material for major projects you work on. Keeping track of resources such as government reports, websites, conference papers, theses, book chapters and journal articles means you don't have to hunt down sources all over again. This will save you a lot of time and frustration!

You may have had access to Endnote as a student. Although a very basic free web version of Endnote is available, after you have graduated you may need to explore other options for reference management, unless you pay for your own access or are affiliated with an organisation that has institutional access.

There are other reference management tools, such as Mendeley and Zotero.

                              Tip

If you are using a shared Endnote library with people from outside your organisation, do not share PDFs of resources to ensure you do not breach the licences (terms and conditions) through which you have access to scholarly literature.

Presentation software

You may be already aware of using PowerPoint and Excel to present information and visualise data, but did you know that there are a lot of other tools out there that enable effective sharing of information? And there are new ones coming out all the time.

Some are web-based only, meaning they are accessible wherever you have an internet connection. They are generally simple to use, but some have more advanced features too, at times only available through paid accounts. Size limits can often apply with free versions.

Be aware that some of these platforms make presentations available to the public by default when they are created. However you can often change the access settings.

  • Prezi offers numerous colourful templates to create presentations or stories which are visually appealing and engaging.
  • emaze lets you import a PowerPoint and add to it with more exciting visuals. You can also create presentations from scratch.
  • Padlet is a versatile pin board that can be used to collect articles, make notes and present information in a unique way.
  • Piktochart can combine data from different reports, as well as statistics, to create an infographic.
  • Venngage also lets you visualise data and statistics and has numerous templates to choose from.
                              Tip

If you have access to Lynda.com through your Local or State Library there are often great training videos for presentation software.

Collaboration tools

Work teams and larger organisational groups may also require you to use collaborative tools to track projects. It can be incredibly helpful in figuring out what's being worked on, who's working on which project, and how far along is the process.

Below are a few examples of the types of collaborative tools you may come across in your work. 

  • Trello is a collaboration tool that organises your projects. They promote themselves as simple on the surface, with more under the hood. Boards, lists, and cards, are the key concepts that Trello is based on. Think Pinterest but with more team collaboration features. Companies like Google, Kickstarter and Pixar use Trello to roadmap and streamline workflow.
  • Airtable is a project management tool that tags, filters, and organises collaborator content into a usable system. This cloud collaboration service is a spreadsheet-database hybrid. If spreadsheets are not your thing though, Airtable also has board, gallery, and calendar views.   
  • Slack is focused on team communication. A cloud-based set of collaboration tools and services, Slack provides a shared workspace where team conversations are organised and accessible. In simpler terms, Slack is a chatting program with extra bells and whistles. It is often used by workplaces that have remote offices and asynchronous teams. 
  • Clickup is a productivity platform that can be tailored to your specific project's workflow needs. Only introduced to the public in 2017, Clickup will no doubt have different features and functionality added to it as the product develops.
  • Some of the applications covered in Cloud Storage, for example OneDrive or Google Docs, also allow for collaborative work but they may not have as much functionality for tracking project timelines. 
                              Tip

Some of these tools integrate with existing software or applications you may already use like Google calendar or Dropbox.

Using the work of others

Copyright and acknowledging the work of others

Arrrrr me hearties! Avoiding copyright piracy is something you really need to be mindful of in the workplace.

When reusing information, it’s important to always acknowledge the work of other people that you have drawn on. It also enables others to locate the work you have used, as it may be useful for them. This applies equally to the work you do when you are a student, as it does to your work as a professional.

Within the workplace it’s important to use other people’s work ethically and responsibly, especially if you are working on a project that might have commercial interests.

Compared to when you are a student, outside of academic life you are much more restricted on how you can reuse content such as information or images in the workplace. You will need to look for content that is:

  • Licensed or permissible for your use through the website terms and conditions
  • In the public domain (that means the copyright has expired or the copyright owner has waived their rights over the material)
  • Content that you’ve received written permission from the copyright owner to use for your intended purposes.
  • Licensed under an appropriate Creative Commons Licence.

If your workplace is large, there may be a Copyright Officer or Manager. Always consult this person if you have a question about copyright issues in your workplace. Keep in mind that industries and workplaces are governed by ethical standards and it is important that you make yourself aware of them.

                              Tip

Even if you're no longer a Deakin student, you can still access the Deakin Copyright Manager's blog to check on copyright stuff that can inform your workplace practice.

Creative commons

There are a number of Creative Commons licences, each specifying the different ways in which the licensor wants their work to be used.

Using things licensed under Creative Commons is the easiest option because the creator gives you permission to use their work under the terms of the licence without you having to contact them directly, as long as you provide appropriate attribution.

Items with a copyright symbol are usually a lot more restrictive, especially outside of the educational environment.

Learn more at the Creative Commons website.

                              Tip

If you would like to use a Creative Commons licensed work in a way that is not permitted by the licence, you may be able to seek permission.

Images and copyright

As already discussed, Creative Commons is a great place to start to understand the copyright issues around using images in your professional work. For more specific information, the blog posts Using Google Images to find reusable images, Finding images licensed under Creative Commons, and Finding re-usable images in Flickr each have handy tips for locating and using appropriate imagery.

The following sites have images that are in the Public Domain, meaning either that the copyright owner has waived their copyrights and given their work out to the public to do whatever they want with it or that the copyright in the work has expired.   

  • Wikimedia Commons Public Domain is the media category within Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, that are marked as public domain using the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0 (CC0). It contains categories of images such as Health, Public Health, Nutrition, Medicine, Psychology, Nursing, and Health Sciences,
  • Pexels is a portal of tagged stock photos and other pictures that are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free for both personal and commercial use. You can modify, copy, and share without needing to ask permission.
  • Pixabay is a community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist - even for commercial purposes.
  • Snappy Goat is a searchable database of 14 million free public domain CC0 images, photos, and clipart.
  • Flickr allow you to search images by keyword and then limit by licence. You will need to check each images permissions as varying levels of attribution are required.
  • Unsplash has copyright-free content created by a community of photographers. Images uploaded to the website are curated by a team of photo editors and are covered by the Unsplash licence rather than Creative Commons.
  • CSIRO ScienceImage is an open access Image library specialising in science and nature, presented by CSIRO, Australia's major science research organisation.
  • Public Health Image Library (PHIL) is a large and diverse collection of images and media files assembled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Like many US government images and graphics, PHIL content is in the public domain.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine has a curated list of where to access US Government Medical Stock Image & Footage.

Australian Copyright Council

The Australian Copyright Council have an excellent website with freely available information sheets covering many aspects of copyright.

Some information sheets you might find particularly useful are:

Keeping information secure

Storing data

In the workplace there may be rules about where you store documents and for how long. This may be mandated by law, or organisational policy.

If your workplace is large, or well established, chances are, you will have an existing file directory in a shared drive to use for storing organisational documents.  However if you do need to create folders, avoid making your file directory overly complex; too many folders can mean documents can be stored in more than one location. Also, choose names that resonate with others who will need to access this information. Common practice for folders is to use events, such as 'staff meetings' or processes such as 'evaluation'. This helps others to easily locate required information and to find similar documents.

For your own documents, the general rule is to think about how you mentally structure your information, and match your folder structure to this.

Common principles for naming files are:

  • Use YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD to keep files in chronological order.
  • Keep file names short
  • Avoid special characters/symbols
  • Avoid spaces - use underscores or capital letters to delimit words
  • To manage different versions of documents, the version number can be indicated in the file name using ‘V’ and the applicable number or 'draft' where required, rather than using these at the start of the file name
                              Tip

Archive completed pieces of work. This also enables current work/documents to be more easily located

Protecting data

The reasons for maintaining data security are various – a few examples are complying with the Privacy Act, protecting commercially sensitive information, as well as non-confidential information that is essential to carry out business functions.

Data security refers not only to protecting data from unauthorized access, possibly resulting in modification or disclosure, but also from corruption and loss such as from malware infection.

Regular back ups are necessary to avoid loss of documents, and more than one back up copy is advised. This is also important, even for a short-term project. It is recommended to store files on a network drive, and an external storage device such as a portable hard-drive, and often a copy offsite, or in another building, with appropriate access restrictions is also necessary.

Cloud storage for backup is a good idea because it's independent of your physical devices (in case of damage or lost devices). However there are instances when cloud storage is not appropriate. Careful consideration is required because of varying privacy policies. Check that the terms and conditions of the provider are suitable for your needs. Things to consider are their backup policy, and who has access to your data.‚Äč

                              Tip

Turn off your work computer at the end of the day, as shutting down and disconnecting from the net lessens the window of availability for scammers to access your data.

                             Learning Activity