How to Get Started

This is a howto for new users, covering basic aspects such as howto start your own reserach journal/blog, howto work with images, and other such things.

Logging on

Once you have registered an account it is important to remember that you need to be logged in to use the site. Depending on the browser settings you use you will usually stay logged in after using the site a couple of times. If you don't and cant remember your password, you can request a password reminder on the homepage. All log-in functions appear directly at the homepage only.

Drupal speak

It is good to learn a bit of Drupal speak, the terminology that Drupal uses to describe itself. In Drupal, every piece of content is, on a basic layer, a 'node'. Those nodes can be different 'content types'. Important content types are Research Journal Entry (Blog post), Image, Audio, Biblio (bibliographic reference), page, book and comment. There are other content types, but if in doubt, don't use them. Drupal also makes extensive use of taxonomies, sometimes also called categories (Drupal is inconsistent in the naming of those). Categories are not nodes in themselves but tags that can be attached to nodes.

How to set up your own research journal/blog

What is usually called blog has been renamed on TNL to "Research Journal" for aesthetic and other 'higher' reasons. To start your own, there is no "setting up" to be done. On the left sidebar there is a menu under your name which I call admin menu all important functions are there (you also find the same functions via the black javascript bar on top). You go there and select "create content". You will then get a page with quite a variety of content types. Scroll down a bit to find the one called "Research Journal Entry". By clicking on it, you get the edit form. I hope to be able to create soon a detailed walk-through this form with images, but for now, many things are quite self explanatory.

Select a title field, don't select an author field, unless the author of the piece is not you. You have several types of categories, some mandatory (the system will complain if you don't select one of them). Please do also use the free tagging capacity. Put the main content in the "body" field and then press "Preview" at the bottom or "Submit" and you are done. One important thing is that "Publishing Options" at the very bottom of this content type is set to "Published" and "Promoted to Front Page". You may want to keep "Published" but, for some posts, untick "Promoted to front page". Now submit, and you are done, you have not just created a blog post but launched your own Research Journal. It will create its own RSS feed tied to your user name, so that people can subscribe to specific Research Journals on TNL.

How to use "Groups"

On TNL privileged users can create their own group, but everybody can join existing groups. Once logged on, click on "groups" in the admin menu. Now pick the group you want to be part of and request membership. The group admin has to approve membership. This needs only to be done once. If you are member of a group you can read and post entries specific to this groups and protected from public viewing. This is good for more closely knit cooperations where not everyone on the net needs to see everything posted. If you want to create a posting in a group there are two separate ways. One is to go into that group and then scroll down. You will find a specific group menu on the left sidebar. Choose a content type from there and post - the group settings will automatically be right. The other way is to go straight to "create content" in the admin menu, select "Research Journal Entry" and do the usual things. But now take care to not forget to select the group you want to post to under the the menu point "Groups" in the edit form. Once you have selected a group, the check box for "Public" underneath will be activated. Only select it if you want your group post to be both in the group and also public. Don't check public if you want it for group members only.

Images and Audio

You can attach an image or an audio file to a research journal entry. However, it is better to upload an image or an audiofile separately and then create a link to it from inside your text. Go "create content", select content type image, describe/tag your image, select an image gallery (you can also create a whole image gallery if you like) and upload it. Once uploaded that way, each image exists in three sizes: thumbnail, preview and original. while the thumbnail is very small, the original size may sometimes be too big. So its the medium size to be used in research journal entries. Thus, go to your research journal entry where you want to place the picture, open the edit menu, the scroll down just below the "body" field. There, and thats the crucial bit, is a menu point "input formats"; choose it and select "full html". Now, in the body field, you can use the standard html tag img=src and so on and so forth. This way, you can place the images better. You can also display images inline from other websites. If you want a caption line you can play with html tags. For instance, "pre" gives you a different font and different grey background to highlight an image caption. While it is true that other publishing systems such as wordpress give you more intuitive ways of working with images through Wysiwig and drag and drop style editing, we believe that a bit of html does not hurt and gives the user more control, while avoiding cluttering the site with dodgy scripting languages which are slow and error prone.


There is a content type video but please don't use it. We do not have the space and server capacity for hosting loads of video. But you can inlcude a video in a research journal entry by hosting it elsewhere - for instance vimeo is very good and not as ugly as youtube - and then use their html code to include it in your research journal. But do not forget to activate "full html" in the input format menu point.

Your account

Once you are logged on in the admin menu there is also a menu point "My account". It offers several ways of descibing yourself, including references to your main homepage/your own blog, a field for describing your research, your social network sites, etc.. Of course we are all concerned about our privacy but, as this site grows and has more users, this offers ways of finding out about key interests of other users which may result in getting in touch directly, for instance via the content form. On your account page you can also change your username. It is generally good practice to use your full name as this site is about research, so you probably want to be identified with your research. A specific feature in this regard is that if some of your writing is included in the biblio database, those texts/books will also show up under "My publications" on your account pages. The idea is to develop this into a more social network type of thing in the medium to long term.

There is much more of course even on that basic level. For instance, you can add to the vocabulary of categories/taxonomies. You can use the biblio content type to work with bibliographic references. For some of those things there are separate howtos which you find below. But a good way of learning is also trying things out and being alert to all the buttons and menu options which often go unnoticed first. There is hardly anything that you can break, really in the sense of permanently breaking it, and if you are in a cul-de-sac you can always ask admin. But there are many ways of using Drupal and the specific TNL instance of it and it would be good to hear about other ways of using it or discussing proposals what to enable/include.