Ilya Shabanov Profile picture
Tweets on how to use novel tools, note-taking and AI to accelerate your academic work & productivity. ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ @VicUniWgtn, Ecology ๐Ÿ‘‡ Blog & Courses in link below
Benjamin Hartmann Profile picture Maleph Profile picture Ron Levitin, MD Profile picture Jeannie Koh Profile picture Rodolpho Gurgel Profile picture 27 subscribed
May 21 โ€ข 14 tweets โ€ข 5 min read
This is Niklas Luhmann.

He has more citations than 99% of scientists.
And 70+ books.

Here is how he did it:
(...steal his secret) Image Luhmann (1927-1998) was a German sociologist and philosopher studying how societies function.

He wrote over 70 books and 400 articles on topics like law, politics, and art.

Luhmann described society as a self-sustaining system and was influential, especially in Germany. Image
May 9 โ€ข 11 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
The best researchers aren't geniuses. They're well-organized.

This is my favorite system to organize 1000s of notes.

Simple, yet powerful:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image 1. The Problem

Taking notes helps you remember only if you can find your notes.

My vault has almost 400k words over 1000+ notes (and countless PDFs/Screenshots).

To find things easier you need to have MULTIPLE layers of organization. Divide and conquer. Image
May 6 โ€ข 7 tweets โ€ข 3 min read
Struggling with remembering where you saved a note?

Use Rainbow Folders: A hidden feature in Obsidian.

Here is how:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image Obsidian (@obsdmd) is a free software if you are serious about organizing knowledge (e.g. academics)

Organize by: Folders, Tags or Maps of Content

Rainbow folders gives every folder a color making them easier to find.

There are two modes: Backgrounds(Left) or Titles (Mid) Image
Apr 27 โ€ข 7 tweets โ€ข 3 min read
Plagiarism is a serious problem in academia.

Even a misplaced citation can massively damage your reputation.

Luckily AI is great at spotting plagiarism. Here is how:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image 1. Plagiarism is complex

If you look at the Harvard Guide it identifies 6 types of plagiarism.

"Uncited paraphrase" might be the most difficult to spot.

Here you might mention established findings from older papers without citing them. Image
Apr 22 โ€ข 5 tweets โ€ข 2 min read
Want to get more done at the end of the week?

Use SCRUM - a scheduling technique most companies use. It's perfect for academics.

Details in text below:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Summary:

1. Create a backlog of tasks and assign a difficulty to each (1,2,4,8 for the number of hours it takes to complete)

2. Plan meetings and seminars etc as they also take time.

3. Before starting your week distribute the tasks from the backlog to the days of the week. Don't plan more than 8hr of work a day (or less if you have other commitments).

4. During the week: Check off what you have completed (and how long it took you).

5. At the end of the week: Understand what you got done and what you didn't.

Understand that if you didn't get everything done it is a planning error. It does not mean you need to work harder/more (this is just recipe for burnout and I have been there myself). It just means you need to plan better. Efficiency comes in relaxation.

Every day you manage to accomplish what you planned you will feel great about yourself.

6. Next week you can copy and paste the open tasks to the next week and start the process again. Some people prefer to have a bi-weekly instead.
Apr 2 โ€ข 8 tweets โ€ข 3 min read
Don't have time to read a paper in detail?

Here is how to extract relevant information instantly:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image The setup:

You have a rather large and relevant conceptual paper.

There are others and you are not sure if it's worth reading it.

You are however more interested in the "big picture" not the methods and details.
Mar 26 โ€ข 4 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
Want to remember every paper you read?

Replace Zotero with a reference map and leverage your spatial memory.

Here is how:

1. Reference manager vs map

Take a look at this screenshot: Which one looks more approachable and interesting? On the right is Zotero displaying all your papers in an endless list. On the left is a reference map.

Reference maps lay out your papers or PDFs in 2D on an endless surface called a "canvas" or "whiteboard". There are many tools that are capable of doing it: Obsidian is an obvious choice, Heptabase is great too, DrawIO is more complex but also good.

2. Zooming in and out / Finding things

Using the scroll wheel or pinch gesture you can fluidly navigate between the bird's eye view and the detailed view with your own notes on a single paper. Left: Detail, Right: All Papers.

To find papers you "fly up" and then "land on" the paper you are looking for. It feels incredibly natural and easier than scrolling through a list.

3. Why it works: Spatial Memory
Humans evolved moving around as hunter gatherers and spatial memory is a key trait needed for navigation. You leverage it by laying out your papers in a landscape, not a list. Your papers gain location and relation.

4. Headers and Topics: Location
Now that your papers are on a landscape or map you can have "countries" on this map. Every country is a topic, further subdivided in sub-topics. Here is the "Machine Learning Country" in the far south west of my map:

I can refer to "papers in the south west" - this is spatial memory being leveraged to remember where things are.

5. Semantic Connections: Relation

The next step is to build the "roads" between locations on the map. Simply draw an arrow and write on it what this relation signifies.

In the above example Swenson 2020 (top) wrote "the trait-demography relationship is weak (Yang 2018)".
So I read Yang 2018 (left) and added a connection. Later I found that (Lynn 2023) suggested a few solutions and linked those two as well.

By just looking at this map you can immediately write a sentence for your literature review. A narrative emerges and synthesis begins.


Lay out papers on a spatial canvas using e.g. Obsidian instead of Zotero. Remembering them will be much easier because you can use your spatial memory. Synthesis starts happening automatically when you annotate connections between papers.

Do you do something like this?
Share a screenshot with us!Image
This is one of the methods you can learn about in my upcoming webinar:

Mar 14 โ€ข 4 tweets โ€ข 2 min read
6 Months ago my core tools barely included any AI.

Today things have shifted - a short update to this post: 1. Writing with 3 AI GPTs

When writing I consider 3 things:
- Finding citations to support the argument
- Putting ideas effectively on paper
- Skimming papers for logical relevance

ChatGPT can now do all of these with the help of GPTs:โ€ฆ
Mar 12 โ€ข 11 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
Webinar Apr 6th:
Literature Review & Academic Writing with AI

โ†’ Find the most impactful literature quickly
โ†’ Uncover reference gaps
โ†’ Aid your writing process faithfully & ethically with AI


All details below:
๐Ÿ‘‡ In this video I explain why the major changes in AI are such a big deal for literature reviews:
Mar 5 โ€ข 12 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
How do you conduct a lit-review in 2024?

โŒ Old way: Searching for papers by keywords on Google
โœ… New way: Semantic search using AI tools like SciSpace

Here is a demo:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image 1. AI Search

Internet search replaced tedious searches in libraries and journals.

Similarly, semantic search will replace the internet search.

AI allows to search answers to questions directly, rather than using keywords.

SciSpace is one such semantic search tool. Let's try!
Feb 22 โ€ข 8 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
Overwhelmed with too many things for your paper or project?

Create an academic command center.

Here is how to do it:
๐Ÿ‘‡Image 1. In @obsdmd install the Kanban plugin

Kanban is a free community plugin.
Feb 16 โ€ข 10 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
When I read papers, I often get distracted.

This setup helped to reduce distractions and gain deeper focus:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image I use @obsdmd to store notes and PDFs and @zotero to extract and import meta-data. The excellent "Zotero Import plugin" imports papers from Zotero.

Do not use Zotero for highlights because they are stored separately from the PDF.

You can just use the system's PDF viewer. Image
Feb 15 โ€ข 6 tweets โ€ข 2 min read
How important is coding for your scientific work?

As a computational ecologist I code every day, but about 50% of my code is AI.

Here are a few threads that can help you become an AI programmer:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Generally this is my coding workflow:

Feb 6 โ€ข 7 tweets โ€ข 3 min read
Don't want to forget what you read?

โ†’ Annotate the PDFs and connect them to your notes.

Here are 4 ways/plugins that make it easy:
๐Ÿ‘‡ The key to remembering is to integrate your annotations into your notes, not just make them.

Read the PDF and highlight, this is ok, but won't help you remember.

Instead, import your highlights into your notes and and connect them together.

This is how it looks: Image
Jan 31 โ€ข 4 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
AI won't create academic writing from scratch.

But used smartly, it's a tool to make your words more coherent, elegant, and fluid.

Follow this example to save a lot of time: ๐Ÿ‘‡

1. I reviewed several papers and extracted key points. But integrating these into a coherent paragraph requires time and skill, particularly for non-native English speakers:

๐Ÿ’ก To help with this, I will create an AI assistant. Its task is to combine loose sentences into a paragraph of academic writing.

๐Ÿค– Think of AI assistants as a set of additional instructions you add to the normal AI conversation. They make it much easier to automate everyday tasks like this one.

Google or ask AI how academic writing is supposed to look and add your requirements (e.g., I am using markdown to format text, so I want to keep this format).

These rules form the basis of your assistant's prompt. Here is how it looks in my case:

Now I copy and paste the sentences to my newly created AI assistant and get two results to choose from:

(repeat for more alternatives or continue the conversation and ask for changes)

๐Ÿ›‘ Do not use this result in your final paper.

It is far from perfect or "academic". AI tends towards generic expressions like "In summary,..." or "Consequentially,..." for example.

โฑ๏ธBut, it is a massive time-saver as you can now focus on polishing your paragraphs, rather than writing the first draft.

Additionally, you can go back and tweak your assistant step by step. Every time you add something, it gets better and your job is done faster next time.

Btw, the best way to get better results is to add examples to your prompt. This is called "Multi Shot Prompting".

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆI use dozens of AI assistants in my research. It makes my work more enjoyable and more productive.


1. Read papers and grab relevant ideas from them.
2. Throw these ideas into a sentence collection
3. Use an AI assistant to join them into a paragraph.
4. Use your words to polish the end result.
5. Feed finished examples back to your assistant to improve results

(Keep in mind that the use of AI sometimes needs to be declared when you submit your paper. )Image
If you are curious how to create your own AI assistant, follow this tutorial:

Jan 30 โ€ข 9 tweets โ€ข 3 min read
Yesterday, I chatted with a friend about writing her MSc thesis.

She said, "It was the worst time of my life because I didn't have a writing process."

Now, I am in her shoes, having to deliver a 10,000-word draft in the next few weeks.

Here is my AI-driven strategy:
๐Ÿ‘‡Image In this thread, we will focus on the introduction part of your paper.

AI can significantly speed up the process from here if you have read a few papers and taken some notes.

If you are entirely new to the field, go and read first.
Jan 29 โ€ข 11 tweets โ€ข 8 min read
Not confident at coding, but need it for your research?

Here are 8 AI tools that will code for you:
๐Ÿ‘‡ 1. @cursor_ai

A standalone editor with a lot of features.

Can be used for free if you do not code much.

Best feature: Auto-Debug โ†’ Given an error message will search your code and try to figure out why it crashed.Image
Jan 17 โ€ข 9 tweets โ€ข 3 min read
Overwhelmed by 100s of papers in your lit review?

My newest AI workflow finds the key papers instantly:
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image 1. Export papers

Export papers from Zotero.

Right click on your collection and select "Export Collection..."

Select "BibTeX" as a format.

Save the file to your hard drive.
Jan 14 โ€ข 12 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
Mobile GPTs are completely changing how we learn.

Here is how to build an AI assistant to teach you art:
(Who talks to you right there in the museum!)
๐Ÿ‘‡ Image 1. Mobile GPTs = GPTs + Mobile App + Prompt

GPTs allow you to add some instructions and files to ChatGPT to make it accomplish a task with ease.

Using GPTs on the phone is even more powerful:
Snap pictures and have GPT explain/interact with them. Image
Jan 10 โ€ข 7 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
AI scientists are discovering new ChatGPT prompts almost every day.

But only very few people read these papers.

Here are 3 "Prompt Secrets" from recent publications:
๐Ÿ‘‡ 1. Recursive Criticism and Improvement (RCI)

Kim 2023 (links in last post) asked ChatGPT to critique its own output.

This critique was then used to create an improved output.

The process is repeated multiple times.

Here are prompt & example on the task of paraphrasing.
Step 1: I will provide you with a text that I want you to โ€ฆ <Describe your task>  Step 2: Critically review your suggestion and find problems with it. Describe them in one sentence.  Step 3: Based on the problems you identified improve your answers.  Repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times until you come to the final text
Dec 17, 2023 โ€ข 11 tweets โ€ข 4 min read
Your note-taking app is the most important software in research.

But which one is the best for you?

I compared @Heptabase and @obsdmd. Deep dive in article or key points in thread:

๐Ÿ‘‡โ€ฆ @Heptabase is a note-taking tool that strongly focuses on visual notes.

In my opinion: Superb for learning new topics.

Three things it does very well:

- PDF annotations
- Usability/UI
- Whiteboard Image