Organizing Dissertation Research Notes: Detailed Instructions From An Expert


When you are working on your dissertation one of the most important aspects will be note taking. Note taking needs to be organized. Every aspect of your work from this point forward must be properly organized in order for you to meet all of your deadlines.

  • The first step in organizing your research notes is to invest in multiple colored pens and corresponding notecards. While you have to decide which organizational method best suits your taste, it is important that you have with you different colors so that you can divide up your information and color-coordinated. For example: you might want blue notecards to contain your chapter headings with yellow notecards containing your subtopics and green notecards containing your supporting evidence. In other cases you might want to stick to white notecards and color coordinate the pens you use to write down your notes. In any case the goal is to keep things separated by color so that when you are playing around with the organization at a later date you can literally move around tangible notecards which will utilize your tactile brain responses.

  • When you take notes you want to always write down corresponding bibliographic information for any facts or quotations or summaries that you produce. This is very important because if you fail at this juncture to write down the corresponding bibliographic information for whatever piece of evidence you wrote down then you will be unable to use it in your final piece until you track it down again. In addition to this you should, at the end of each research session keep a separate sheet of paper or separate word document on your computer where all of your references are maintained. This means that when you are done with one session you should collect all of the references you have for the day and put them in your bibliography. You do not necessarily have to format everything at this point but you should have it all in the same place.

  • As you are conducting research you want to also write any bibliographic information including the page number on top of any item you photocopy or print. This is something many students forget about even at such an advanced academic age. If you write down the page numbers and the corresponding information on top of each random piece of paper that you have in your folders it will prove significantly easier to remain organized at this juncture.

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