Database for Notetaking

>> Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So ...I finally did it: made myself a database for taking notes while I wade through the stacks and stacks of readings.

I meant to do it when I started my MA but just never got around to finishing one.... but this summer I decided to do it again, and this time I not only started it, I finished it ....well, to the point of usability anyway ...I continue to tweak it as I go and I'm sure that that will continue for awhile yet.

I am using it for my readings for the course I'm taking - there are a lot of readings!

It works for me in part because I am not known for organization - when I take notes on paper, I invariably lose them - until right after I need them at which point they mysteriously reappear. Since I always have a computer of some sort with me (and to date, knocking on wood, have yet to misplace one, although cords are a different story) - I can manage this far better.

Plus, of course, it has the advantage of being fully searchable, sortable, etc. I can pull up all notes that relate to a certain article or topic or author or.... whatever.

My hope is that by the time it comes round to having to study for my comprehensive exams in the second year of my doctorate, I will have an excellent resource from which to work. Comps are the one aspect of my Phd studies that scare the crap out of me - I am not so great at recalling what I want when I want it.

Typing my notes into the database - and also coming up with a summary of each article/work - should, I hope, improve my ability to do that sort of thing. I'm already finding that I am doing much better at retaining who said what information, which is probably because I have first of all, had to type the authors' names in, then select them, then see them on the screen at the top of every note I write or term I add to my glossary.

AND once I have a good database of typed out ~stuff~ I shall have even more fun fodder for playing with some of the textual analysis tools that I learned about in Victoria last week. It's all good.

Well, all, that is, except for the mosquitos that are driving me nuts! I'm sitting in the backyard of the house that I'm staying at. It will soon be time to give it up and head inside for a shower and then bed. But going to get back to my reading & database for a bit longer .... I've finished my readings for tomorrow now and am halfway through Thursday, which is good, as tomorrow night we're having a BBQ and I will not want to read. I'll have a couple of hours in between class and the BBQ in which to finish whatever I don't get done... but would be nice to get it all done tonight.


  • Laura

    Interesting idea. Are you using a spreadsheet program or something else to make this?

    I'm going to be starting grad school here soon :D and am not too sure about what I'm getting myself into. So, maybe I should do something like what you've got going. :D

  • Studentmum

    I have the same question - are you using a web based database: something along the lines Endnote Web

  • flit

    I haven't found a program that works for me - although I haven't tried Endnote Web - I just made my own using MS Access.... Had resources, authors, notes and glossary terms ... as of today I've added a new section for historical data so that I can add that as I come across it too - and then print up a timeline of Canadian history of my own, either complete, or related to particular topics

  • philly5113

    This is a real good idea. I find that it not only helps with the organization it improves retention of the materials, just cause you are working with it more indepth. A nice idea, perhaps you can share the process and....!
    Keep up the good work, you are way ahead of me so I am taking notes. Thanks

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