It is always my note-taking tension: how to separate and filter the mass of notes and thoughts I generate, yet still be able to make connections between them, sometimes between seemingly unrelated notes. In fact, as researchers, part of our job is to make new connections. A note take system for me therefore requires flexibility to group my notes in different ways – folders, projects, notebooks, tags, whatever – so long as grouping one way doesn’t preclude me from grouping another way if I feel like it at a later stage. The reference management system I have been using, Citavi, advertises itself as a “knowledge management” system in that it is a reference and note manager combined. The only thing I found was that if I grouped references and notes in Projects, there didn’t seem to be a straightforward way of sharing between projects (it might just be that I didn’t find it, of course).
I often use author and date as ways of categorising my information, combined with key words, as that is the style of referencing I generally use. But when it comes to categorising my archival research, I find this difficult and not always useful. One box or folder can hold such a wide range of documents, anything from newspaper clippings to Ministerial briefing papers to handwritten notes, and I need to know not only what they are and what they relate to, but which box I got it from. No wonder historians use endnotes and footnotes more than (author, date).
Now, in my between-computer time, it is an ideal time for me to try out Evernote to see how useful it might be for me. I am particularly interested in discovering its sharing capabilities, both internally and externally, given the 23 Things for Research emphasis on developing academic community. The cloud based nature of Evernote appeals, for its back up potential. So here I go, using Evernote to store my latest piece of writing (not counting this blog post) as well as my rationale for it: