Organising information (information management)
Early in your research, select a strategy for managing your information. It is vital that full reference be recorded accurately for later use. Everyone has experienced the frustration associated with not being able to locate a reference when it is needed.
Most researchers use an electronic system to organise their references and PDFs, and create bibliographies.
CQUniversity has a site licence for EndNote which permits CQUniversity staff and students to use the software both at work and home. The main functions of EndNote are:
- maintenance of a database of references
- downloading references from other databases
- using the database to link to references in word processed documents
- generating a bibliography in the correct style for publication
More information about EndNote is available in the EndNote LibGuide.
Card file systems are an alternative to an electronic system.
The idea behind a card file is to establish a set of individual cards, each of which will represent a document or physical piece of information. These include the full reference, as well as any notes and annotations you make. One common arrangement of these cards is alphabetic, by the author's surname. Some researchers allocate a running number to each reference, and use this as their point of access. You must decide which is the most appropriate method for your own purposes.
Other details that can be noted on the cards are relevant keywords or subject headings, quotes or notes pertaining to the reference, abstracts or summaries, and a call number (if appropriate). Some people also add keywords or subject headings cards to assist locating reference at a later date. These 'guide cards' can be colour coded.
Whichever system you use, if you choose to keep paper copies of your references, you will need to devise a filing system. Here are some suggestions:
- alphabetic by author
- by running number or EndNote record number
- by topic or project area
- alphabetic within topic or subject area
- by stage of research - introduction, methodology, data collection
- currency, or date retrieved
- by unique code number
Make sure that you are consistent within your system, and that you link your physical files with your information management system, eg. include the relevant code number in your database record or card files.