Research Flow Blues

I was looking at the calendar last night, and realized that there is not that much between now and the end of the semester. It’s my first semester in graduate school, and if I’m going to survive still remains to be seen. I’ve got major research projects in nearly every class, and I’m beginning to lament the fact that I still don’t a process or a system for producing research. Or at least one that I’m aware of. I’ve always researched, I wrote, and then something magical happened and I had a research project or paper. Magic. That’s how research happens.

But the level that I’m in now, I’m realizing that it might be do or die when it comes to developing a work flow that works for my scattered, unorganized way of working. It’s not all of the writing and researching that I have to do looming over my head, that is getting me to think about this, but a really great blog post that we had to read in my digital self class. The post, “Embarrassment of riches: Managing research assets,” was written by Miriam Posner. I’m hoping that through some discussions and class and some of the tips from the article that I might be able to steal some great research flow ideas. The problem is though that everyone’s is going to be different, you kind of just have to figure out what works for you by trial and error. Well, for me I’m hoping to do less of the error side. Which is why you learn what other people did wrong, and just not do it.

One thing that I have seriously implemented into my baby academic life is Zotero. And I would highly recommend, if you aren’t already using a site like Zotero or EndNote to compile sources, do it now. I organize my folders by larger subject matter (Feminist Theory, Digital Studies, etc.) and then into their individual projects. I realize that as my graduate school career goes along that I will be making organizational adjustments as I need to. The other really great thing about these systems is being able to store your notes on a paper or book, along with the citation information.

What I’ve been doing is while I’m reading an article, I take notes in word, and the copy and paste them into Zotero when I’m finished. I only take notes on an article if I know for sure that that an individual article or book is going to be helpful to me. There is no need to waste valuable time, so always do a quick read through of the article first.

Hopefully, as time goes along that I’ll be able to develop even more techniques and strategies. Wish me luck.