Dissertation Ghost app

Project date:


Dissertation Ghost is a simple Android app I created with MIT App Inventor 2 to track progress towards a milestone in my dissertation research.

A big portion of my work is a synthesis and analysis of existing publications and reports, a task I am tackling with qualitative analysis software, NVIVO. I use NVIVO to code digital versions of publications so that I can query and summarize my notations easily.

Dissertation Ghost helps me count how many publications I’ve annotated. It’s simple: Pick a start date, then just hit the plus button after you finish a publication. Then you can easily see the number of publications annotated and the number of days since you started. Personally, I set a goal of one publication per day and this app helps me track my pace.

Why is it called Dissertation Ghost?

In one of my favorite video games, Super Mario Kart, the Ghost is an opponent you race against in Time Trial mode. The Ghost represents your best time on a course and helps you stay on record pace.

Download and use the app

If you think the app might be helpful to you, you can download it for free. The app is not posted in the Google Play Store, so you will need to download and install the .apk file. Some instructions from the MIT App Inventor docs:

Anyone installing your app (which is an “.apk” file) will need to change the setting on their phone to allow installation of non-market applications:

To find this setting on versions of Android prior to 4.0, go to “Settings > Applications” and then check the box next to “Unknown Sources”. For devices running Android 4.0 or above, go to “Settings > Security” or “Settings > Security & Screen Lock” and then check the box next to “Unknown Sources” and confirm your choice.

Important notes:

  • Requires an Android device (obviously)
  • Some of the newest devices will allow you to make a case-by-case exception to the “Unknown Sources” setting, so you don’t have to allow all unknown apps to install.
  • The app requires no special permissions to run and is very basic, but as always, user beware. I’ve only tested the app on my phone at this point. I am not responsible for any problems the app might cause. If you’ve tried the app, let me know your hardware and software and I will add it to this list of user devices (though presence on the list doesn’t guarantee flawless function).
    • Samsung Galaxy S8 running Android 7.0 (Nougat)

If you discover a bug or other problem or maybe just have a suggestion, let me know!

Remix and customize the app

If you’d rather customize the app to your own purposes, you are free to do so, provided you follow the conditions of the MIT License.

Some possible customizations:

  • Change the text of the counter: instead of Readings, you might have a certain number of Samples you want to process or a number of Pages to write.
  • Change the time interval: instead of days, the counter could easily be changed to hours, minutes, seconds, etc.

To get the source code, download the .aia file, which you can then import into MIT App Inventor 2 (Project –> Import project (.aia) from my computer).

If you do remix or customize the app, I’d love to hear about it and link to it.