This recent discussion post by SarahC got me thinking about how one can rationally manage research. It seems like software might be useful here, but I don't know how exactly the software should work. I'm intrigued by mind mapping software, but it's possible that all that structure is unnecessary and you could do quite well with less. For instance, I'm considering trying a system of timestamped notes which are managed by a tagging system. If the tagging was done thoroughly enough, you could filter through all the posts sharing a cluster of tags and fairly easily get access to every idea you've recorded on a certain topic.

The only problem is, I think I'd want even more specialized software than that. I'd want to integrate my notes with some form of bibliography management, and at least a to-do list. And I can imagine more, for example perhaps there could be a "sticky note" capability where I could pin up and move around things that I either want to remember or that will help me with my research, like an inspirational quote if I'm not feeling motivated to do research, or the Litany of Tarski or some other rationality technique if I really need to remember to use it.

I'm not sure if these ideas are all sound, but a basic requirement for the software would be to document the structure of your research so that it can be analyzed for effectiveness.

I know there are some people on Less Wrong who do research, so I suppose I should defer to the experts here: how do you organize your research? What methodologies and tools do you use? Why?

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A lot of the functionality you're describing is covered by Evernote. It has tagging, it lets you save entire websites as notes (or have a written note have a pointer to a url), and it has a couple of other nifty programs that integrate nicely with it and some other features that I don't personally use and therefore can't comment on. Oh and it's hosted online, so if you're like me and have more than one working computer that's handy too.

What it doesnt have (as far as I know) is bibliographic functionality. But I figure that's manageable by documenting everything and tagging the notes appropriately.

Evernote recommendation seconded. It's a really neat tool (I particularly like the auto text recognition in images making them searchable).

You might try Zotero--http://www.zotero.org. it's a Firefox extension with an amazing set of features; I think most of what you're looking for can be done in it to at least some extent. (It is a Firefox plugin only; if you don't use Firefox, Zotero alone might be worth switching for.)

A huge sticking point I have tends to be keeping track of what I saw, where I saw it, and what I thought it was worth remembering for. It feels like stopping to notate is a big speedbump when I'm in chase mode, and not thinking about what a pain it will be weeks later when I don't remember where things came from; I need to be better about saving, tagging, and notating things in Zotero, actually.

(Also the hardest problem I have with research is stopping, because that means I just have to write...)

It feels like stopping to notate is a big speedbump when I'm in chase mode, and not thinking about what a pain it will be weeks later when I don't remember where things came from;

I know this feeling all too well, which is why I'm looking for software to facilitate writing things down. Zotero looks excellent, I'm going to give it a shot. Thanks.

I'm considering trying a system of timestamped notes which are managed by a tagging system.

I have long suspected that this is the best way to organize notes, but have not found the right software yet to support the practice. Let me know if you want me to say more.

i'm keeping a log with http://spreadsheets.google.com

columns:

date. source(url,"self",etc.). importance(initial estimate). belief(init.). importance,belief,recall (all 3 on revisiting). claim/belief. doubts. (the last two are free text and i try to be concise)

i plan to review every week. i'll update the "on revisiting" columns for 3-10 days ago.

i also plan to review larger blocks (less frequently) and will decide in the future how often, and whether to add additional importance/belief/recall columns for each review frequency or just overwrite.

when i discover some sexy idea from pleasure-seeking browsing, i often suspect that when i have more distance from it, i'll think less of it. that's the only reason i'm interested in quantifying anything.

i agree that some super software might be fun, but i'm not going to waste my time looking for it. my ultimate goal is to integrate and remember things that are true and important. i also don't plan on tagging anything, even though i might later decide that the relative importance of some value has changed for me, and if only i had tagged things finely, i could easily update my log.

[-][anonymous]9y-1

I just bookmark the research. I use endnote for academic research though.

I'm a firefox user. control + shift + D bookmarks all my tabs, but when I export the bookmarks, any ctrlshiftD tabs don't appear. So, I often have to manually bookmark everything. I'm looking for another browser or a workaround to speed things up cause organising my research this way is...giving my RSI.

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