View Full Version : Research Organization

Jason Couch
27th November 2002, 19:34
This seems like the most logical place to ask. I need help. How do y’all organize all the research that begins to pile up?

Books/Journals- I just slap ‘em up on the shelves w/out any rhyme or reason. Not ideal, but doesn’t seem worth the extra effort to categorize. Most end up in stacks on the desk, bedroom nightstand, and “reading room” anyway.

Articles/Photocopies- More problematic. I nominally use file cabinets, but usually a pain and difficult to find things. I think I’m going to try to start making very broad sections and then use subfolders for smaller topics. Ex: Japan>Judo>Kodokan>weight training. Or do you find it easier just to make everything alphabetical instead? Current method is to throw everything into unmarked folders and forget about it until I remember that I have something somewhere on that topic. Current method doesn’t work very well.

Then what do you do with the stuff that overlaps many areas, do you cross-reference? I don’t see myself ever being that organized. And what about the things that could be bound- what do you use for that, say, a series of loose articles, or so forth- do you bind them somehow or just stick them somewhere?

Tidbits/Misc- This is the stuff where you have scraps, notes, stray paragraphs out of books you copied, maybe emails, letters, notes from phone conversations, index cards, library notes, notes for future research (books, articles to get, good biblios), etc. I would think these should go into the proper subject folders, but they always seem to collect around the desk. The notes for future research in particular seem to float around. Need a good plan for all this.

Online/Computer- This may be the most difficult simply because it can be so much info, but also lends itself to easy sorting if you do it as you go. If I find a good webpage, I’ll just cut and paste into a word doc, then add the link into the doc in case I need to revisit. This saves me from losing it if the link goes bad. Although if that’s the case, I do lose the ability to cite it, since I never take down the web creator/owner info.

The sites I don’t like as much, I just bookmark after making a file for it, but that can be a pain sometimes. I also keep a list of links in a doc and just add to it, but that gets so long it gets unwieldy. I suppose one day I can break it up into subject areas

Has anyone ever tried anything like “Internet Researcher” or any of the other programs that are supposed to help you organize your online research?

On the computer I have it set up something like my file cabinet by subject areas. Of course, my “misc” folder always seems to collect the most material. I wonder if I should arrange the computer files to correspond to the file cabinets and keep hard copies in the file cabinets for everything. Makes sense, but seems like a lot of work. On the other hand, I don’t have a back-up of all the stuff on my computer, so I suppose it should be done.

I’m swamped here- anyone have a “system” or otherwise any ideas, tips or suggestions? My memory of what is where is starting to fail me now that ma research seems to have taken over the walls and desks of the home office.

Joseph Svinth
29th November 2002, 18:00
Books -- moderately alphabetical by author, if I have the room. Because I currently don't, many books are in boxes. Most of the boxes have packing lists so that I don't have to go through everything in them to find a book. Books I use all the time are on a shelf near the computer. This is a short list.

Newspaper clippings and magazine articles -- chronological, in 3-ring binders. I use the 4" D-ring binders, as they hold more per binder.

Interviews, etc. -- Keyboarded and kept on disk.

Xerox copies of manuals, etc. -- spiral-bound and then filed like a book.

Photos -- put in paper photo protectors to protect the images, then filed roughly alphabetically by main title in an A-Z accordian file.

General reading -- Key elements put into into Kronos or similar format. (The footnotes are offline; ALWAYS footnote everything, as somebody will ask.) Once input, the source document is dumped into a cardboard storage box if a loose article or put in the garage (or taken back to the library) if a book. When the cardboard box is full, then it goes to the archives (a.k.a. "garage"). Storage is off the ground on pallets, and there are a bunch of Dry-Z-Air dessicators in the room. So far, I haven't had any problem.

To Do: A 3-4' high stack of jumbled papers on a table near my computer, plus another couple feet of jumbled papers in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet.