Newman Library, Graduate Services

a blog about library developments, research practices & advice, and graduate student input

Organize & Document Your Research

Posted by lrath on November 8, 2007

Ever misplace the “perfect” article you printed for a paper? And then spent an hour or two trying to find it again? Or do you feel overwhelmed with tackling all the resources at the library, and you can’t remember which ones you have –or haven’t– already used?

A good way to manage and organize your research process is to document it. Documenting will also help you save time if you need to retrace your research steps.

The Newman Library created a reference worksheet to help you with documenting and organizing your research.

You should also use RefWorks (read earlier post about RefWorks), which lets you create folders to “hold” your articles. You can export articles from library databases to your RefWorks account (and you can link back to the article in the database). You can also create bibliographies from the articles in your folders.

What type of information should you document?

  • Library databases you want to use, or already used
  • Identify the materials found in each database (scholarly articles, newspaper articles, statistics, case studies, etc.)
  • List of keywords describing your research topic. Please remember that a keyword may work well in one database, but not so well in another. So, note which keywords work well for each database you use.
  • Authors or producers of information that may cover your topic due to their interests (experts, academic researchers, organizations, government agencies, trade organizations, etc.)
  • Other resources, such as websites or reports from think tanks (these are often mentioned in articles)
  • Keep track of the databases and keywords that didn’t work so well for your topic (so you don’t waste time trying the same database/keyword again)
RefWorksheet page 1

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