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Organize your Research: Home

This guide provides tips to help you GET and STAY organized throughout the research process, with special emphasis on keeping track of your citations and sources.

Corral your citations!

The official term is bibliographic management.  How do you save citations or fulltext documents in such a way that you can find them easily later?  Many tools can help you with this!

In the EBSCOhost databases (we have a lot of these), use the TOOLS menu that appears to the right of a specific record (not in the main results list).

cite button EBSCOhostThis tool automatically generates a citation in a handful of the most common citation styles (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).  You can copy and paste it into your paper or somewhere else.


Permalink button EBSCOhostThis is a stable URL that you can use to return to this page later.  Do not copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your browser, at least when you're in a library database.  It won't work later!  Instead, use the permalink.
Tip! To learn whether a URL is stable or not, copy and paste it into a different browser.  Ex: If you're in Chrome, try Firefox.  


Add to Folder EBSCOhostLike a shopping cart, the folder can be used to gather many materials and deal with them in a batch.  You can email them all at once, or export them, or save them. 
Tip! If you want the contents of the folder to stick between sessions, create a My EBSCOhost account and sign in before adding items to the folder.  You pick a username/password - it is not connected to your GC network login.

RefWorks and Zotero are powerful bibliographic citation tools.  You may want to invest time in learning to use these in your upper division classes, especially if you are doing a senior thesis or large capstone project.  You may want to access some of these sources again in graduate school or during your early professional lives... it makes sense to start a personal collection of published sources relating to your field.

RefWorks logo Zotero logo

More detail about specific citation styles and tools is avaliable on the library's Citation Guides page.

Time management

Managing your time is a constant issue during college (and later!). 

  • You will be more productive if you keep a calendar and put your daily to-do lists in it.
    • Have your calendar with you, whether physically or virtually.
    • Break down large projects into manageable parts, and assign yourself due dates for the parts.
    • Toward the end of each day, make a reasonable list for what to accomplish the next day.  Then you can start working right away and hopefully not spend half your work time cruising around Facebook. 

Where to save info

Options abound.  Find a system that works well for you, and use it consistently.

  • Your hard drive.  If you routinely save things to your hard drive, back up regularly. 
  • In the cloud.  If your information is on a network drive somewhere in the cloud, then someone else is backing it up.
    • H: drive.  Your H: drive is a network drive and you can access it from anywhere on campus.  This option might be problematic if you are off campus a lot (think about when you go home for break).
    • External services.  There are plenty of cloud-based services available now, many with a free basic account. These can be very helpful.  Just remember not to store sensitive information in a corporate cloud account (education students, think about FERPA!).
      • Evernote. This can work well for workflow, notes, data, and some content.  I appreciate that it works on desktop machines (PC and Mac) and mobile devices (android and iOS). 
      • Dropbox. Dropbox works well for files and documents, and can be easily shared with other Dropbox users.  This could be a good resource for group projects.
      • Google Drive. Google has a word processor, a spreadsheet, and all the basic stuff - but it's not the same as Microsoft Office. If that's important, look elsewhere.
  • Paper.  Sometimes a spiral notebook really does work best, especially if you have an office supply fetish and want to use your highlighters and post-it notes.  You know who you are!
  • Microsoft Word document.  Some people successfully capture notes and sources in one long Word document.  You can copy citations here and annotate, too.  Just make sure you back it up.
  • Microsoft OneNote.  OneNote describes itself as a "digital notebook" that lets you collect text, images, recordings, and more all in one place.  It is similar to Evernote in many ways, but OneNote is part of the Microsoft Office suite.  You may have the suite and not have explored OneNote.  Evernote is not part of a larger productivity suite and is entirely web-based.
  • Email.  Email can work well in a pinch, but research projects are usually ongoing and it is helpful to have all your sources corraled in one place.  Email tends to be more granular.  

If you are up for learning a new notetaking or organizational program, look for recent articles about them.  You can always google "evernote vs onenote," for example, to help you decide between them. 

Ex: Five Best Notetaking Applications - a little dated now (published Fall 2011), but still good, from Lifehacker

What other tools work well for you?  Email Janelle with suggestions so we can keep this guide current!

Annotate

Professors and other accomplished researchers annotate everything they read.  Annotations needn't be formal - just keep track of what an article is about and how it fits into your research.  If you are doing comprehensive research on a topic, annotations can also help you keep track of what you've already read.  You will begin to encounter the same sources over and over!

This guide is a useful introduction to the annotated bibliography.  But if you are just taking notes for yourself, you don't need to be overly structured or formal.  Just keep notes about what you read and how you might be able to use it later.  You'll thank yourself when it comes time to draft the paper.