Managing Research Material

I have to be honest one of the most interesting aspects of writing a new blog post for me is the research. The internet has really opened up our access to information, books and articles and for someone who likes writing this can become almost obsessive.

At the click of a button we can read almost anything we want to, anywhere in the world. The challenge for writers is how to store and access the material once we have discovered it.

image internet

The internet has changed the way we research and store material (image “Notebook And Button A Touch Screen Interface” by kangshutters freedigitalphotos.net)

This article looks at managing research material that can be used in your writing.

It looks at some of the software programmes available and I share which programmes I have found most beneficial in my work.

  • Managing Research
  • Writing Software
  • Images
  • Academic References
  • Web Based Research
  • Note taking

Managing Your Research Material

The term research material might conjure up images of scientists and laboratories, but the reality is that for a writer research is also a vital part for many types of writing. This article describes some of the tools that I used and have found useful in my online writing.

Writing Software

The main software programme that I use for writing is Scrivener I mainly use this program because of the flexibility it provides to organise my writing and plan my content. However, another advantage of the program is the fact that it can also store research material and it provides a split screen option to enable you to view the research content and write at the same time.

I have found that writing and managing everything in one programme is becoming increasingly more difficult, gone were the days when Microsoft Word was all you needed! (if those days ever actually existed)

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

Using Images

Storing and sourcing images is a vital part of blogging research. One of the important aspects is to record the artist / photographer.

Images can be managed in Scrivener (see picture), since there are split screen shot options which also allow for images and screenshots to be included in the research section.

Although I like editing my material in Pages for Mac, the fact that I have to convert it into Word eventually makes this a tiresome process. Scrivener converts to Word as well and so I tend to edit in Word after that, including altering the image sizes to fit the word formatting.

WordPress

Blogging platforms such as WordPress allow you to upload images from your computer, so that any photos or images can be added to your blog page.

When uploading the image the name of the author should also be included, so that next time the image is used in a post you have easy access to the name.

screenshot image details on WordPress

Software for Storing References

Most research material that I gather is in written form, either from websites, journals or articles.  Many of these can be accessed through online databases such as Questia.

Academic Research Material

One of the ways in which I manage most of the academic references that I have is through a software package called Sente 6.

Using this software I can import PDF versions of any text or documents that I have and I can highlight the sections that I wish to make notes on. The programme will quote the text and also give me the opportunity to add my own comments underneath the quote, in the panel on the right hand side of the screen.

screenshot highlighting in Sente6

Text can be highlighted and coded using 6 different colours

For each of the highlighted sections in the panel on the right, Sente enables me to quickly revisit the source.

This is an invaluable tool for researchers and students and it makes accessing and reviewing all your journal articles very simple and easy to find.

You can also open multiple tabs so that you can be working on several papers or articles at the same time.

Saving Journal and Academic References

The other very valuable tool that Sente 6 has is an automatic hookup link to Google scholar and other databases. This means that by entering the article title into the library on Sente, you can then access the reference of the document on line and download it.

It appears at the bottom right hand corner of the screen and can easily be copied and pasted into any reference list or bibliography that you are producing.

Screenshot Sente6

Sente 6 library of PDFs

(no more manually writing in of references). I am still using the free version although it doesn’t back up the library anymore online and it is on my list of software to purchase in the next few months.  I have been using this version for nearly 12 months and it provides nearly everything I would need for writing PhD level thesis

Web Based Content Including Emails

As well as online research in articles, there are other electronic sources of information.

If your writing is more web based or email content then DevonThink Pro is a good programme.

I use it occasionally although I haven’t upgraded to the full version, but it has been very useful for a research project I did last year, which involved a lot of email correspondence which I needed to sort and store.

DeveonThink uses a database system and enables you to open different folders for each of your projects.  Within each folder you can add subfolders and website addresses or copies of emails. Most of these can be added by drag and drop which makes handling the data very easy to manage.

Devonthink Pro

Devonthink Pro

Note taking

Finally one of the real challenges in research is having ideas on the road away from your laptop or during a telephone conversation.  For this I use Evernote, a programme I have used, gave up on but have now come back to.

I find it particularly useful when on Skype with another researcher and need to make notes for a project. It also links to the cloud so notes made on the phone can be instantly accessed on the computer. I’m still getting the hand of it and haven’t really used it away from the computer, but that’s because most of my writing at the moment is computer based.

Image for Evernote

The famous elephant logo of Evernote

Other Ideas

There are obviously a lot of software programs available for writers and many of them are useful for different types of writing.

I would love to hear about other writing/ research programs that people use, either for article writing, blogging or academic writing and studies.

Please leave a comment below and if you want any more information on any of the programs please leave me a comment below.

 

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