Here are some things that I have been doing during my MRes to save a bit of time and effort in the reading and research process.
Searchable Notebooks: Google Docs (electronic), Bullet Journal (paper)
Whenever I read a paper or a chapter, I log it in a Google Doc because I have an Android phone and tablet. I can make them available offline and can copy and paste bits from PDFs. I usually use header 1 with the field of study, header 2 with the full or partial APA citation and header 3 with the date and normal text is just notes. I often add comments for action items in there as well. Another good thing is that I can copy and paste things across if they’re relevant to another project.
However, I’ve also started being more consistent in my use of the Bullet Journal method for notetaking. The indexing and task management are really useful and it is great to get a sense of what has been done (and where to find the notes on that topic). The key is spending about ten minutes first thing in the morning and ten minutes in the evening to reviewing and sorting out your daily logs.
Reference Manager: Zotero
This is so useful, to search through all the PDFs and stuff in my Google Drive. Before that I was using the aforementioned Google Doc as a notebook. I tried several reference managers before with an older computer and all failed miserably to install properly, with the Word extension for Zotero going weird, but I assume that was my old laptop. I have since got a new laptop and Zotero works like a dream. Some people much prefer Mendeley but Zotero is open source so even if it stops being actively updated, it’s unlikely to become completely useless. The Firefox extension is really convenient and so is the desktop software’s magic wand button where it completes the metadata from just a DOI, PMID or Arxiv ID.
Jargon Cheat Sheet: Google Sheets
I decided to set up something a bit more systematic to help my poor memory cope with juggling several projects at once and the vast amount of abbreviations and jargon that linguistics can throw at us. I just started it today so it is definitely a work in progress. You could use Excel or something else, but Google Sheets is convenient for me just because I’m a cheapskate Android user.
I set up three columns in each sheet:
- Abbreviation/Jargon term
- (Sub)field (e.g. linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, SLA)
- Meaning (definition and/or example).
Hopefully it will be an easy search to find something I forgot about or want to confirm.