How do I organize my research project?
August 14, 2010 5:45 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to organize my research for a big proposal and presentation?

I've been out of college for about six years now, so I'm not really up-to-date on how the kids are managing their big thesis papers and such -- or if there even is anything they're doing different besides using a big notebook!

I've been hired on a consulting job to write what basically amounts to a grant proposal. The project will require me to do a LOT of research over the course of a month, and then formulate a pretty text-heavy proposal and presentation.

I'm comfortable doing the writing with Word, and the presentation in PPT or Prezi. But I need something that will help me with the research end of this. I need it to be cross-referencing, easily organized, able to handle a lot of disparate notes, and maybe even handle references.

I've considered something like a MediaWiki installation, but I'm wondering if there are any other options I should think about?
posted by PandemicSoul to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
You need Zotero. It will change your life.

Well, maybe not your life. But your research, definitely.
posted by Madame Psychosis at 6:17 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have been using microsoft's OneNote for research over the last 6 months and while I can imagine some improvements, I have really appreciated it. Its basically like a big, unstructured piece of paper you can put text, links and pictures in with elaborate tagging and good searching options.

Zotero seems to me best for wrangling references and sources.
posted by shothotbot at 6:35 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've I've played with and considered concept mapping tool. two of them come to mind: "the Brain" and CMAP. both allow attaching documents and the first one allows adding links as well. what is useful about this this is that you can keep similar strings of thought together and there can be many interlinks. this is far superior to any higher growth structure because it allows cross-referencing and things to be associated with several concepts, much like tagging.


Remlap KnowledgeBase - something else I've played with that looks promising and has tagging. the official website no longer has it, but older versions are available on other websites.

Keynote PIM!!! This is by far the best little tool I have ever used. it is ancient, but people who use of swear by it. There are so ,many keyboard shortcuts and it is a snap to rearrange information. It follows the tabbed tree format. The only downside to this is that it doesn't handle pictures very well. But you can link to documents and to other nodes. There is a new version in development search Google for "Keynote new features". why I think this is so great is that it makes it very easy to rearrange sections with the shortcuts that moved the nodes of the tree. Pretty useful when you're trying to rearrange pieces into a coherent order in preparation for a paper. it doesn't always play well with anything other than rich text, so some things you might clip from the web might need a bit of fixing first.

Inkseine - is an experimental download from Microsoft and similar to one note. you can drag and drop documents into it and it's pretty free-form. However it's best with a tablet PC. has a neat function that allows you to clip web pages and put them in the notes as well.

I would second the recommendation for one note. I've heard many people say that this is the best product Microsoft has ever come up with. If you can use it with a tablet PC, it just might change your life because you can search through your handwritten notes as well. it also has the benefit of being sync-able between computers.

Clipper tool from Microsoft, under the XP power tools. this was made for tablet PC, but I believe it can be installed on any PC. It allows you to take a clipping of the screen simply by circling. This is extremely useful for those protected pdfs or the old scanned documents you might run across. if you then put it into Microsoft one note it has OCR ( character recognition) which saves you a lot of trouble.

Pardon my speech recognition errors here.
posted by chinabound at 9:18 AM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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