One of the fun things I read last week, and Yes I do notecards to track what I read.
I’ve been trying and failing to manage my research and writing for years now. Mostly, I’ve failed miserably. I’ve tried Zotero. I’ve tried using just Evernote. Nothing work and I found that I just keep getting further and further behind. I wanted to solve this, and so here I am attempting to fix it by going back in time.
While becoming a budding historian at Georgia College, I was taught the note card method for making research notes. It’s similar to this guideline from Hunter College’s writing center discover during a “shot gun” google search: http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu/reading-writing/on-line/notetaki.html. The premise of this method is to take a source and create several note cards the detail the bibliographic information and main points of the source. Usually, you’ll end up with two collections of cards. One set has bibliographic information for all of your sources, and the other contains the main points you’ve found relevant in each source. Usually there’s a cross reference system to attach bibliographic cards with the research notes. I always used a number system so as I found sources I’d give them a sequential number. Each research note card would have number that corresponded to the original bibliographic card. When the research process is over, you could then take your research note cards and write from the notes you taken by putting these cards in an order that tells the story you’ve discovered. All together this is a great system, and one that really helped me do research well before the iPad and the iPhone.
So fast forward a bit, I have abandoned paper in favor of a paperless life style, and I noticed something. I couldn’t really get the things done research wise that I wanted to. I also felt I wasn’t retaining information like a I use. After some thinking and a bit of searching, I got to thinking about how the process of hand writing helped me retain information and focus my often easily distracted brain by giving my hands something to do. It was this thought that made me want to experiment this semester with a revived note card system with a digital twist. What I’ve set out to to do for one semester is to capture academic readings and notes via note cards, but leverage the power of Evernote to serve as my cross referencing system. I’m not sure how it will play out, but so far, Evernote, combined with skitch, has made organizing readings and initial bibliographies a snap. Let’s see how it does for research notes as the semester goes on. My initial work flow is below. Thoughts?
- Find source to read for research or class
- Document Bibliographic data, summaries source on 3X5 card
- If pdf document, add to skitch (mac)
- Capture card with Evernote (iphone)
- Give card meta data, this included appropriate tags, foldering in research folder (mac or pc)
- Link skitch document, web document, etc to digitized card
- Take notes on separate card
- Link research notes to bibliographic card
- Use Evernote links to create outline from research notes
my stress relief takes a different turn.
As the semester rages, and use whatever sense of the word you’d like, I often find that I’m getting over whelmed again. This is the cycle of things it seems. I’ve tried task management systems. I’ve tried various techniques to encourage myself to be a productive faculty member, including forcing a writing regiment, but honestly none of the ever seem to completely work. I’ll stay focused for a week or maybe three. After that, I fall off the wagon. It’s probably due to my ease of distraction or my inability to say no. Whatever reason is the cause of the anxiety, i’m going to try to stop this. How you may ask? I don’t really know just yet, but I believe the secret lies with paper and note cards. How do note cards and paper solve my feelings of being overwhelmed? I don’t know, but I’m in the middle of an experiment that I hope will help organize my research and professional activities in a way that let’s me embrace the calm.
BuzzFeed’s Reza Aslan Video via Fox News Is a Traffic Bonanza | New Republic.
The above article(possible paywall), while discussing an interview that has lot to do with academic writing, actually takes the discussion in another direction that I really like. Marc Tracy finds a story less in the subject of the video, but more in how it was distributed, and who if anyone should get credit for this story. He ultimately concludes that:
The explosion in the ability to self-publish is redefining what publishing is and what kind of things publishers can make money off of. So I suppose the question becomes: What, in this era, can traditional journalism somehow add to the mix? And how can that, too, score pageviews and make money?
This sentiment is important for historians to ponder in the wake of the AHA’s pronouncement concerning dissertations, which I believe is a call to return to more traditional publishing methods. But in light of this article is the AHA right because a buzzfeed like entity might “steal” a dissertation and get “credit” for it? Or are they are they dooming historians to irrelevancy because there will always be someone who’s faster and more willing to publish content online? Much more to think about, but I’m still holding onto my gut reaction that a six year embargo is a bad, bad idea.
I realized this afternoon while I was switching gears to work on a book review that I need to finish up that I’ve essentially created a “mini-fort”, really its more of a wall, on my desk. This “mini-fort”, to me at least, must act like a barrier to help maintain my distance from anyone who enters my office. I’m not sure that this is really a good thing, unless I’m trying to keep out invading barbarian groups, but Milledgeville has had a Hun invasion in a long, long time. It really goes against my attempt to have tea, water and other amenities in my space for the many visitors, and office meetings I’ve been having this summer, and will continue to have in the fall. What I haven’t done is ensure that my space is inviting from where I sit. The image above doesn’t show the giant two monitors that sit to my left, my greatest barrier, but it does show the brickabrack scattered on the desk leaving no one a place for tea, or, more importantly a direct line at communicating with me. I feel like this is vitally important, and I plan on changing it this week. I do question whether I’m over thinking things or if it’s really necessary to create an environment in “my” office to make others feel more at home. Anythoughts
Brain storming for the GC library Institutional Repository
So it begins!! Georgia College library is about to embark on a grand new journey. We’ve finally received approval. I’ve spent a good bit of time brainstorming. My next year or so is gonna be a lot of fun.
I mentioned this document this morning in my presentation. Here it is as promised. primary source analysis tool
I always enjoy presenting at the Gil User Groups Meeting in may every year. Here are the slides for my presentation today.