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phoebusg's avatar

What are your methods for doing research, especially the laborious parts. Ideas and solutions.

Asked by phoebusg (5241points) February 25th, 2010

I have a model in place, but looking for other methods – hopefully more efficient or supplementary.

How do you manage a large bibliography. Do you print every article, or handle everything electronically? How do you deal with the referencing etc.

I would rather focus more on the innovative parts of research, and less on the ‘house-keeping’ tasks.

Input greatly appreciated, lurve for long answers/good tips.

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14 Answers

janbb's avatar

Are you talking about citation and bibliographic style? That would be determined by your discipline. Or are you asking more about how people organize their research processes?

fireinthepriory's avatar

EndNote for the bibliography. It will save you insane amounts of time and energy, and it’s available for PC or Mac. Once you have everything in there, you won’t believe how you got along without it. You can add keywords to papers (today I did a search for “trout” because I knew I was looking for a paper about trout but couldn’t remember the author’s name). It’ll even export all your sources into a specific journal’s format, in alphabetical order. It’s utterly brilliant.

As for the tedium, I like to never do only one thing at once. For example, earlier this year I had a bunch of tissue samples to do DNA extractions on, and also I had to do some immunoassays. Some people would do all the extractions then all the immunoassays, but I find it a lot less boring to do immunoassay in the morning, and extractions in the afternoon. Mix it up. Download audiobooks or make playlists of your favorite music to listen to while you’re doing such menial tasks. If you’re alone in the lab, sing along. Dance a little. Don’t take it too seriously, you’ll go nuts. I also like to see how streamlined I can get a procedure. I got my extraction protocol down from 3 hours to 2 by the end, which was awesome.

wundayatta's avatar

Are you doing a lit review? Consider learning to use Atlas.ti or some other qualitative data analysis program. They allow you to collate material much more efficiently. (The do not do the reading for you).

I don’t know where you are getting your articles from, but if they are from any of the online research services, they should come with built in sources.

It is, of course, more efficient to handle things electronically. Doing things by hand is much more laborious.

Do you have a model for how you pursue your lit review? Those things tend to be personal, and you can hear how others do that, but it really is such a personal thing that I doubt if anyone can give you useful advice there.

phoebusg's avatar

@fireinthepriory hahaha. Excellent, much thanks for the response – and the extra tips for good times in the lab(s).

phoebusg's avatar

@wundayatta I want to hear how others do it. I’ll pick and choose – and customize it to my model. Really appreciate your reply as well, looking this atlas thing up.

phoebusg's avatar

Another interesting link: (qualitative analysis software).

I already use Omnipage, it is… a lifesaver.


liminal's avatar

I love note cards. I had to finally acquiesce that I am to scattered to keep such information indefinitely. I have gone electronic with wonderful and glorious free software! I am still getting used to it but I can already tell that my research, thinking, and writing will be dramatically improved. My dissertation days are still years out and I know that using this method now will help me immensely when the time comes.

I use Scribe: it is a free platform that allows me to stick with my old note card life style while giving me additional helps that would take me forever to gather.

They describe themselves the best: “Scribe allows you to manage your research notes, quotes, thoughts, contacts, published and archival sources, digital images, outlines, timelines, and glossary entries. You can create, organize, index, search, link, and cross-reference your note and source cards. You can assemble, print, and export bibliographies, copy formatted references to clipboard, and import sources from online catalogs. You can store entire articles, add extended comments on each card in a separate field, and find and highlight a particular word within a note or article. Scribe’s uses range from an undergraduate history research seminar to a major archival research project.”

thriftymaid's avatar

Each type research requires different skills and methods. Some types require training, example being legal research.

phoebusg's avatar

@thriftymaid and some examples of your research methods would be? :)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m old fashioned. I keep every note on a seperate 3×5 card with source and page number on the top. Very glad I did it this way, as my historical research has spanned over 35 years. If I had put these on some obsolete disc format, I’d be in trouble. As I’m returning to this thesis after a 30 year hiatus, I’m not sure yet what footnoting format is au courant, but my boxes of file cards will adapt to any format.

liminal's avatar

I am impressed that you have been able to keep your note cards together, @stranger_in_a_strange_land.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@liminal Stored in my mothers attic for 25 years in metal ammo boxes.

phoebusg's avatar

To add my recent finding to this thread, I am now using – which is a very handy tool. Does everything from scanning your papers folder, to adding citations from databases, and then into your own paper. In a matter of seconds. But also allows for the creation and tracking of the academic community and current research. I think I’m in love with it…. maybe you’ll be too.

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