I've never had a problem with my note-taking but since I've started this damned PhD I've come to realise that my note writing abilities are absolutley awful! I have come to write some stuff up from what I've been reading and here I am with endless notes upon notes in a big pile of mess and I have no idea where to start or what to do. I think I should find some help on how to be efficient in note taking!
Any quick solutions for this mess (aside from burning the lot??)???
There are some suggestions out there on how to take notes, and develop a card file index system of them...using different colours of pen even to indicate quotes, precis, etc. Are you working from your own copies of things, or library copies? If I have my own copies, I like to scribble notes in the margin on the first read, and then have another read or two over a day or so to let the ideas sink in. Usually I am thinking how the ideas relate to other things I have read about, so I might scribble that in the margin. Later, when I want to write about the article, I will write my thoughts somewhat free form, linking this and that, and then type them up, with appropriate footnote references...
I am giving away my age by saying that I prefer to do my first drafts by hand, rather than typing at the keyboard. I actually keep a notebook with my notes of the articles I read, and the first hand written drafts on things. That said, over time I purge the drafts because they have hopefully morphed into pieces of more formal written work, but nevertheless, my work space is sometimes like archaelogy, where I am digging through the layers trying to find what I need.
I am writing notes on everything from now on... I just spent the day trying to figure out which articles from a big pile I have read and which ones I haven't - had no memory of most of them initially and then realised halfway through 'oh yeah I HAVE read this'
I started off thinking I was clever and saving paper/ink by using Microsoft Onenote (ha! how stupid was I!?), then realised that it defeated the object because to see the notes in order to write up (on the computer), I had to print out the notes from Onenote. So then I ended up with notebooks to make notes and the odd strewn piece of lined paper. I tend to use library books mostly, so I make note of any useful quotes etc. and then use a different colour to mark anything of extra importance and also add my own comments. It seems like a good system at the time - until you get to this stage!
I am now redrafting and redrafting trying to find the relevant topics amongst my notebooks and piece it all together again. I have attempted to number every page of notes to be able to make a quick reference back to them, but the notes appear to be blurring into one another! Please tell me this isn't going to be life for the next 3 years
Can you get back to the books that you referenced? I think working exclusively from notes is difficult-for the reasons that you pointed out. Do you write as you go, or do you wait until you have a big chunk of material and then write, or some other system? I usually write 4-5 pages on a handful of related articles/issues, and use that to start building my chapter--that way I am not reliant on the notes after a long period of time, I would have written when the stuff was relatively fresh on the brain and I could make sense of it.
I "pile" articles in rough categories and tend to keep separate piles of the ones I like, versus the ones that were not so helpful, the less helpful ones get shoved to the back of whatever flat surface is storing articles. This is a horrible system if you live with someone, or are a neat freak, or need to use the flat surfaces of your home ( ironing board, cooker, etc) for daily living. I think it is good to go through and throw things out, too---I chucked out several notebooks, as they had served their purpose and I could not be bothered to interpret my mad scribblings again, and in some cases it meant re-reading material--but as I am sitting here doing that, its useful--what made sense on the first read is different than what makes sense on the fourth read---with a lot of other reading in between!
I am still looking for a good system too. I've got the notes all over the place, and files of stuff that I think I need to read, and also loads of articles that I thought would be useful but now I can't for the life of me think what I wanted them for! I have promised myself that I will sort it all out in the next few weeks, but that is no guarantee that I will actually do it
Olivia (think we are similarly ancient) I also keep old fashioned notebooks. Unfortunately my writing is awful though!
Here's something I do for keeping track of my refs and what they are about. I have an electronic library in Endnote and I use the subject bibliography feature to run out lists of related refs with abstracts (might be related by a key term - usually the refs I collected that particular day). I print out these lists and highlight key phrases - and sometimes scribble an extra note in the margin. If I have a copy of the paper or abstract I record where that is being kept in my Endnote library.
Later, I can go through these lists and quickly see which refs I have (and where) and which are the most useful. My field cuts across several disciplines and my ref library is exploding - I've had to have a tight overall system but one that is not to arduous.
As to the where exactly - I use coded magazine racks and plastic wallets - it's quicker than conventional filing which I would be too lazy to do.
Hey mokey--this is such a headache, managing the resources you've collated. Everyone seems to have their own system. I write out my notes, and put them all in a folder titled 'to be typed'. Once I've typed up a set of notes, I put the typed notes in a folder under strict headings. I've got about thirteen massive folders with material that is yet to be read. The stuff I've read gets divided into two separate folders: read--to be consulted at a later date, and read--of no use. Have I just managed to further confuse you?
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