Take notes! No matter how sharp your memory is, with the amount of material you will be reading it is impossible of remember what you read where. Also, as research develops, you may need to refer to things that you read a few years back and that is very difficult to remember. It is very frustrating remembering that you read something somewhere but not remembering where and having to go through dozens of articles again. As time consuming as good note taking is, it is well worth it.

Digital Notes

  • Depends on what you are comfortable with but try and keep them digital and organized as much as possible. Having one central notes document in MS word (or any other word processing software) with headings and subheadings is the best way. These would be fully searchable (CTRL+F). In PhD research you eventually go through so much material that having searchable notes is a huge plus point. Plus it means that you don’t have thousands of papers. When you are writing and you want the notes relevant for that chapter in front of you, you can simply copy and paste the relevant notes into a separate document and print. Make sure to have a methodology for organizing notes within your document from the beginning.
    • Best way to organize your I can recommend is to list it by author. This way you simultaneously prepare your bibliography and it is indexed-).
    • Have tags-
  • There is also software for organizing notes (such as endnote mentioned above, which is available on all SOAS computers).
  • If there are articles or book chapters that you are going to keep I would highly recommend that scanning them rather than photocopying. Even if you want your own hardcopy the high speed photocopiers at SOAS scan as fast as they photocopy. The machines have a USB port that you can attach your flash drive to and your article or book chapter will be directly save to the memory device in either .jpg or .pdf format. The machines are very easy to use, please ask at the AV department (on the ground floor) or the IT helpdesk for help. This means that you have all the resources that you referred to handy on your computer and if you don’t print everything then you have even done your bit to save the environment. But seriously, scan your articles and also your handwritten notes (if you can’t get yourself to type them).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *