How Do I Take Notes?
Throughout the years I have tried different approaches, software, and philosophies for taking and tracking my notes. Like others, I have not been good at being consistent or even particularly well-organized. But I have a plan at present that works for me.
Whenever I start a project, I create a Google Doc. In that doc I make a series of section titles for parts of the research project. I have Google Doc create a ToC for the document so I can click on the section I am working on. The reason I like Google Docs is that it can be accessed from any computer pretty easily, my institution (George Fox) gives us endless storage, and it is easily searchable.
Now, when it comes to what I PUT in the document, it ends up being a lot of quotations. I want to make sure I got the author right, so I copy a lot of quotes from the material to have on-hand. So as to make sure I don’t mix up quotes I label them very carefully. If I have my own thoughts about an issue, I will use my own initials (NKG) so I keep track of my thoughts vs. the others in the document. The document does tend to be very long, sometimes dozens of pages, sometimes hundreds of pages. But, again, nice to have it in one place.
The main thing I have learned how to do is to keep organized. The better I organize these notes, the clear my thinking is when it is time to write.
Now, just in the last year or two I have tried using Bookends to keep track of bibliographical items. I did start to put some notes in there, but I have found that I am not as comfortable using Bookends as I thought I would be.
My priority when it comes to making and storing notes is (#1) ease of use, (#2) security – not losing my data, and (3) ease of access/search-ability. So many times I have thought- I read an article on that, where did I put those notes? I am realizing now that the “finder” on my computer does a poor job of searching for one-off words or phrases in a Word Doc, and that Google Docs and Google Drive does better on this.
In the end, I could scrap it and try something new next year, but I am in a good groove, so I am content for now.