Skip to content

Notes About Note-Taking

July 5, 2022

A few months ago, a colleague wrote about creating an online tutorial for Zotero instruction. After reading April’s post, I thought about my own experiences with citation management tools.

I was familiar with the citation managers used by faculty and students, but didn’t consistently use one myself until a year ago. Then, early in a group writing project, Zotero was suggested as a way to share literature and annotations.

This reintroduction came just in time to keep me on track for overlapping publication and presentation deadlines. Finding my notes on important points and their sources was much easier than sifting through file folders of stapled printouts (or an unwieldy stack of papers, not that any of us have experience with that).

Looking back, I think using a citation manager to organize my articles and thoughts helped me multitask a little more effectively. Zotero 6, the latest version, incorporates PDF features like exporting and storing annotations, as do other citation managers.

Tools like Zotero can be useful in other circumstances, too. For example, I’m participating in three reading circles/discussion groups this summer. I’m able to attend at least two meetings for each group, and didn’t want to lose track of what was next. Rather than printing everything, I created a Zotero folder for each group that includes the assigned PDFs and my notes. Before each group’s (virtual) meeting, I can quickly access my highlights for that session’s reading and refer to them during the discussion. I haven’t noticed a difference in what I’m retaining, and I’ve saved paper and office clutter.

Reading and annotating on a screen isn’t for everyone, of course. But if you’re thinking about giving your highlighter a break, choices range from mobile-friendly note-taking apps to research-focused platforms. Asking colleagues about their experiences and considering what’s used most at your institution can lead you to a few options to explore. If you’ve found an application that’s been a good fit for your citation and note management, please share it in the comments.

The important thing is finding (or continuing) a system that works for you — including tried-and-true post-its and paper stacks.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: