Systems for managing information
Much of the work of a researcher involves reading, writing and record keeping. Think how many notes and papers you've already collected. Then think ahead towards the end of your three-year candidature:
- How many papers and articles will you have read?
- How many books of notes do you think you will have filled?
It becomes very important to develop systems for recording and storing your information. The sooner you get onto this, the better.
A comprehensive diary can serve to keep short notes on readings, database searches and ideas. However, most students develop a series of journals or notebooks - hardcopy or electronic - each with a particular purpose. Wherever you keep your notes, it is important to develop systematic filenames and keep track of drafts as they develop. It should go without saying - ALWAYS backup your electronic documents.
Consider now how you plan to keep track of:
- Meetings with your supervisor, topics discussed and outcomes
- Work undertaken, data collected and analysis
- Thoughts and ideas related to your project
- Tasks to do on a daily or weekly basis
- Literature searched, read and reviewed
Help is available for this last task in the form of EndNote: a bibliographic software program that allows you to save references and import records from databases. As it contains a 'cite while you write' feature. EndNote is also a powerful tool for creating references and bibliographies in theses and research papers.
Staff and postgraduates can obtain a licensed copy of the latest version of EndNote from the IT Service Desk. The latest version available is EndNote X7 for both Macs and Windows computers. EndNote is free to all postgraduate students.
Once you have obtained the CD, access the instructions for downloading EndNote.
The University Library provides extensive information, classes and guides on using using EndNote.
Another place you may store your notes is on your personal computer. It is important to develop systematic filenames and keep track of drafts as they develop. It should go without saying - ALWAYS backup your documents.