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Start of the academic year is a great time to adopt new practices for research/organization/productivity. #twitterstorians
Now that semester’s settled in, some tips. In rough order of usefulness. Most helpful for all levels, from undergrad up, across disciplines
1) Stop taking notes in Word. Various options for better search, organization, functionality, etc; I use @devontech’s DEVONthink Personal
2) I’m always shocked at how few of even our grad students use citation mgmt software. @zotero please, folks!
2a) I’m trying out @zotero add-on Zotfile right now w/ my #HIS400 students. Some fellow Twitter academics swear by it
3) I keep track of library books I need in a Google Sheet. Accessible on phone, can sort by call numbers
3a) Adopt a color-coding scheme. Yellow = looked at, useful. Orange = looked at, not useful. Grey = quick glance. Etc.
3b) I use color-coding for spreadsheets, PDFs/folders in OS, etc. Super handy
4) If you use an iPad for reading PDFs, highly recommend @iAnnotate. ht @GordinMichael for this great tip
5) Sign up to have journal table of contents emailed to you every month. Great way to stay on top of new lit in your field & beyond
5a) Team up w/ colleagues to take turns every month downloading/adding citations from said table of contents. (Still aspiring to this)
5b) That AHA annual mtg program? Flip thru the publisher ads at the end back, write down forthcoming books in your field
5c) It’s impossible to read everything. A big part of historiographical knowledge knowing titles, staying on top of developments in field
6) Learn a way to batch organize/rename/etc. files. I use Automator, which is part of Mac OS
7) OCR in Acrobat full version allows you to make most PDFs searchable
7a) I wouldn’t OCR my archival materials at start of research. How would you even know what to search for?
7b) But OCR can be a great timesaver if you can’t remember where in a longer source you saw something
8) Set up a Google Form for students to fill out w/ recommendation requests. It populates a Google Sheet, puts all info in 1 place
8a) Of all the tricks I’ve come up w/, this one has saved me most time in last 5 years. Had been getting 120+ recommendation requests/year
8a) Of all the tricks I’ve come up w/, this one has saved me most time in last 5 years. Had been getting 120+ recommendation requests/year
9) And students, please, get in the habit of putting your last name at start of file titles if there’s ever a chance you’ll send files out
9a) It stinks for your professor/colleague/whomever if s/he is getting 10 documents all w/ the title PaperProposal.doc
I have a bigger system for digitizing/cataloging/organizing primary sources. Hope to share it together online eventually
Please share your best practices and how we might do all of these things more efficiently!
2 other tips, which would have ranked near the top had I remembered them. So integral to my research process they slipped my mind
1) Keep a research diary. Even if you think you'll remember something b/c it's important or exciting, you won't
2) I use an 8-digit date code: yearmonthday. Today is 20170930. Next month is 20171000. Next yr is 20180000. Much easier to sort in Excel
Also, clarifications (ht @nheller @jamaicandale). I often take notes by hand, type up if book important. Or copy highlights from iAnnotate
Only use Zotero for secondary sources, some published primary sources. Have obsessive spreadsheet system for primary/archival materials
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