What is the best way you found to take notes while researching your topic?

posted
06-Oct-18, 15:30
edited a moment later
by SakuraM
Avatar for SakuraM
posted about 1 week ago
Hello,
I am working on a PhD in British Studies (foreign policy/ Mideast) and although I have a masters, I still find my method of note taking very old-fashioned and time consuming. So, my question is: how do you take notes from printed sources like books. Do you use post-its to mark the relevant passages and then, after finishing the book you type all the passages for later use? I'm embarrassed to say this has always been the way I did my research and it's a constant hassle and very time consuming. Any better method please? I'd really appreciate any helpful tips!
Cheers
posted
07-Oct-18, 01:50
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 week ago
I am not familiar with your area of study but I would have thought that most of your research was coming from primary literature sources - i.e. journal articles rather than books. In that case I would print the articles and use highlighters and post-its and I would probably write summaries of each paper too.

I am also a bit confused when you say "type the passages". You would surely want to summarise in your own words in a separate Word document for each resource you have read.
posted
07-Oct-18, 16:34
edited about 49 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Whatever works for you is fine. I tend to have an excel file and give each column a heading like authors, year, sample, aims, measures, results, my notes. Then I fill it in row by row for each paper on a given topic. You can double click to expand the cell, or press wrap to minimize it - so there's no limit on how much you can write per cell. If it's a book or something I'll sometimes type up notes in a word document.
posted
07-Oct-18, 20:26
by SakuraM
Avatar for SakuraM
posted about 1 week ago
Hi PM133 and thx for your post. We use whatever we find relevant to our research including journal articles, books, etc.
What I meant by "type the passages" is that after completing a particular book/ article, etc., I type all the passages I highlighted while reading on a Word Doc. and save it for future use (summary, paraphrase, quotes, etc.) and believe me it takes a loong time.

Hi Tudor-Queen and thx for your input. I'm happy that I am not the only one doing this kind of note-taking :D.. But I find that the process is taking up a big chunk of my time. This is why I decided to ask to find out if there are other more efficient ways to do it.

Thanks again!
posted
08-Oct-18, 21:58
edited about 10 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
I think it only needs to be so detailed when you actually need that info for the main part of the review - you know the studies that are really relevant to your own. The more general background ideas can have much more general notes (if any at all) - I don't take notes on everything I read. When it is more contextual and less an issue of contention / that I am specifically addressing then there is much less need for detailed notes. Taking notes to the same level on all the literature you read could certainly be inefficient. Be selective.

Best of luck with it all.
posted
09-Oct-18, 18:52
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 week ago
My honest opinion is that everyone should have their own system that works best for them.

I am a hoarder that downloads every paper I read and use Mendely to search them if necessary (it can search through the text of the papers for you). If the paper is really good, I write a short summary of my thoughts/opinions of it in a word document (it is currently 78 pages) and give it keywords, so I can cross-reference. For books, I scan them then write a summary about the work and put it in the word file. I know my system will drive others nuts, but it works for me.

if you take a lot of notes from physical books, scanning them and using pdf-text software might be useful.
posted
12-Oct-18, 07:48
edited about 8 seconds later
by lawlin
Avatar for lawlin
posted about 1 week ago
There is no one way to do this. I use post-its and highlighters of different colors. I also keep a notebook by my side to note important page numbers (I include a brief summary of why the page is important, which allows me to explicate the most crucial aspect of its relevance). Nothing has helped me more than a notebook. Sifting through it also gives me numerous ideas. But to each his/her own, so all the best :)
posted
12-Oct-18, 13:43
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for kenziebob
posted about 1 week ago
I use yet another method of taking notes. I normally either print and read or read online, and I have a word document open with the title of the topic at the top. Then I bullet point my notes on different papers, including any personal reflections in a different colour. I find it works well for me :)
posted
13-Oct-18, 16:19
edited about 24 seconds later
by SakuraM
Avatar for SakuraM
posted about 6 days ago
Hi all!

Thanks a lot for your input and advice.

I like the idea of having a notebook or word doc to put my ideas/ thoughts/ opinions, etc. on while reading and not waiting until after I finish (reading). Thanks also for mentioning Mendeley as I am not familiar with it.

Cheers!

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