Organisation is such an integral element to good academic research and writing that I have opted to include tips of this nature in the same page. Being organised is absolutely key to the beginning of your research project, as you start to develop a search strategy and begin to collate resources to read. It is, likewise, key as you consider how to set out your written assignment.
I suggest that the measure of organisation that you apply to the beginning of your research project will strongly influence the efficiency of your project all throughout… so it is advisable to start organising early!… Try to avoid procrastination.
At the beginning of your project
As you start your research project consider the following:
- How do I want to organise my notes for my secondary reading?
- Where do I want to store my resources?
- How will I prioritise my resources to ensure I find what is most useful?
Answer these questions before you make substantial progress in the research itself, for greatest efficiency…
If you fail to take good notes, you risk plagiarism…or, you risk spending hours re-searching to find those same resources in order to reference them properly in your written work.
If you fail to prioritise your workload, you may find yourself rushing at the last minute to complete and submit assignments which are a significant impact on your grade.
If you fail to adequately sift through the resources you find and evaluate their relevance, you may find yourself wasting hours reading articles and book chapters which, ultimately, aren’t conducive to your project at all.
To that end, there are four tips I highly recommend:
1. Plan your note-taking. Consider how you are going to take notes and record them. Find a way that works best for you. (Some suggestions are below)
2. Prioritise your assignments. Evaluate your assignments according to their urgency and importance… consider assignments which are more urgent and important before those which are less urgent and unimportant. (See the video below).
3. Appraise your resources. Go in with a plan regarding how you are going to tackle the swathes of resources on your subject. Use the strategy in the video below to help you quickly find the most relevant materials.
4. Make use of good tools. Google Drive is a useful way to organise your notes and writing. You might prefer to use One Drive, which is connected to Microsoft Outlook email addresses. Zotero is a supremely handy way to organise your notes, references, and resources. Start using these tools from the beginning to save yourself (serious) heartache later.
Note-taking tips (guide) Coming soon
Using Zotero (free) to stay organised (video) Coming soon
Using Google Drive (free) to stay organised (video) Coming soon
How to appraise your resources (video)
How to avoid procrastination & prioritise assignments (video)