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Help me master my research/writing/reference management workflow.
November 7, 2011 1:18 AM   Subscribe

Is there an app that can help me take notes, tag them by topic, then export my notes by tag while retaining information about their source?

I’m looking for help with my research/writing/reference management workflow. I want an app that allows me to do research and keep track of two attributes: the source of the information and the topic.

Let’s say I'm writing a book about cooking.

I start by reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In my app, I create a new document for my notes from that book. Then take notes, and tag different paragraphs with different topics, like pressure-cooking, sauces, and emulsions.

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking
paragraph A tag: pressure-cooking
paragraph B tag: sauces
paragraph C tag: emulsions

Let's say I then do an Interview with Emeril Lagasse. I create a new document, again take notes, and again tag different paragraphs with different topics.

Source: Interview with Emeril Lagasse
paragraph D tag: sauces
paragraph E tag: emulsions
paragraph F tag: pressure-cooking

Let's say I then do Web research from a website called "Modernistcuisine.com," and I create a third document, again take notes, and again tag different paragraphs with different topics.

Source: Modernistcuisine.com website
paragraph G tag: emulsions
paragraph H tag: sauces
paragraph I tag: emulsions

Now comes the trick. I then want to be able to extract the notes I took, GROUPED BY TAG, and RETAINING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR SOURCE.

So if I decided to export by the tag "emulsions," the automatically generated result would be this:

TOPIC: EMULSIONS
Paragraph C ^1
Paragraph F ^2
Paragraph G ^3
Paragraph I ^4
-------
ENDNOTES:
1 Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking
2 Source: Interview with Emeril Lagasse
3 Source: Modernistcuisine.com website
4 Source: Modernistcuisine.com website

Is there an app that will allow me to collect all my paragraphs tagged with a particular topic into a single bucket while RETAINING THE INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR SOURCE?

If such an app does not exist, what alternative solutions can people recommend for my research/writing/citation workflow?
posted by incandescentman to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds like a job for Evernote.
posted by pharm at 1:38 AM on November 7, 2011


Evernote allows me to view my notes by tag, but when I copy and paste text to a Word processor, I lose the information about the source.
posted by incandescentman at 2:15 AM on November 7, 2011


How's your programming? The Evernote API is pretty good.
posted by pharm at 3:18 AM on November 7, 2011


(API docs)
posted by pharm at 3:19 AM on November 7, 2011


Workflowy will sort of let you do this, if you are organized--

Start a new list for your notes from one source, with the source as the top tier, so:

Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- Sauces
---- Wine Sauce
------ yada yada yada @sauce @wine
---- Cream Sauce
------ yada yada yada @sauce @cream
- Chicken
----- Lemon Chicken
----- Chicken in wine @wine @chicken

When you run a search @wine it shows up:

-Mastering the Art of French Cooking
--- Sauces
---- Wine Sauce
------- yada yada @wine
--- Chicken
------- Chicken in Wine @wine

You can then export lists with only the tagged items, and the source will be your header-- you will need one master top node to export them all at once, like "Cooking Research". Workflowy is a little hard to explain but it's the best thing ever for taking notes.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:37 AM on November 7, 2011


Simplenote and the Syncpad Chrome extension might work for you. There is also a Windows Simplenote aware application called Resophnotes, or Notational Velocity for Macs.

Copy/paste from the web has automagic source links, and there's tagging.
posted by xyzzy at 4:51 AM on November 7, 2011


I would suggest Zotero, as it can pretty easily grab citation info from the web, and you can manually add tags and search by them, and you can generate HTML exports of whatever you want, which includes the notes. I think the key for what you want is to tag the notes, not the sources, but I'm not sure if that would easily work.
posted by thegears at 1:08 PM on November 7, 2011


Endnote was what our university recommended be used - I used it for exactly what you're talking about.
posted by coriolisdave at 1:42 PM on November 7, 2011


Thanks for all the answers! I've been using Workflowy and it's worked well.

Here's another solution I'm going to try:
http://muninn.net/blog/2010/03/omnioutliner-applescript-to-append-a-note-to-selected-rows.html
posted by incandescentman at 6:36 AM on November 24, 2011


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