I received many great comments about workflow on my post First Forays so I decided to start up a new conversation on efficiency and research workflow. I'll start with a little profile on the type of researcher I am and the kinds of research I do and then I'll go into my current workflow and finally what works and what doesn't. I would love to hear from you on tools you've used or are currently using that have made a difference (great or small) in your research process.
I'm a third year graduate student in French Literature so I work with A LOT of pdfs (who doesn't): articles, scanned novels etc.
My work is interdisciplinary, somewhere at the intersection of French Studies, African American and Diaspora Studies, Literature, HIstory and Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy. This makes organizing sources a challenge especially with overlapping sources. I don't want duplicate files on my computer.
I am currently compiling my reading list and preparing for comps as well as putting my dissertation proposal together. It feels like a good time to think carefully about how I want to organize the tons of material I will be using in the next couple of years to make the writing process less er, nightmarish.
Tools I Use:
My iPad: for handwritting notes, reading books (mostly Kindle) and annotating pdfs. All my handwritten notes are backed up as pdfs, and when I find a quote I think I'll need I'll type it up instead so that it's searchable. I use Notability for note-taking and recording, and Goodreader for pdfs.
Dropbox: I keep all my pdfs here in carefully organized folders, but this is a little challenging because of overlapping themes and the fact that this has been a manual process. I wish I could just dump all my pdfs into one giant folder and have some program that sorts it all out. I sync dropbox with goodreader because of Zotero.
Zotero: to manage my bibliography. Each reference has a link that takes me to the stored pdf in dropbox, and I always have the most recently modified version because dropbox syncs to goodreader where I do annotations.
How to make this better:
Working with Zotero feels like I have to do more things manually than I would like to. For example assigning tags or deciding which folder/library a given document should go into. I then have to make sure the given pdf is also in an approrpiately named folder in dropbox. On the ipad I have to tap "sync" everytime I want goodreader to sync with dropbox (for example after annotating a pdf) and it's such a clumsy process because it goes ahead and syncs ALL 1 billion pdfs everytime.
So it sounds like DevonThink would be great for managing my huge pdf library. For the DT users out there, please tell me this:
1. How would I use DT with my ipad? This is make or break for me. I've read nothing but horrible reviews of DevonThinkToGo (the ipad app). I want to be able to annotate on the ipad and see my annotations on the file in DT on my computer.
2. Does DT do citations (like Zotero or Mendeley) or is it only a database? I would hate to have to use DT + Zotero or some other citation manager...that would be too much for my little brain. Or perhaps is Sente that magic tool that will do both database and citations?
3. Does DT do OCR? I have a lot of scanned out of print texts that I would LOVE to make searchable. In fact if I could make everything in the entire world searchable (google?) that would be divine and it's a little annoying having to go to yet another tool for OCR (I use PdfPenPro but it's hit or miss).
4. Why on earth is DT so expensive!?!
If you use any other research tools please feel free to join the conversation. I've decided on Scrivener for writing and TimeOut to remind me to take regular breaks...my next one is.........now.
Next post: ipads and other fun tech tools for teaching. Stay tuned.