- Develop a rich research vocabulary - look for related and alternate terms as you browse and right them down for subsequent searches.
- Change your search terms often and think of alternate ways to express your ides.
"world war ii" -- "world war 1939 - 1945" -- "second world war"
"military intelligence" -- spy / spying / spies
- Find something good? Mine the footnotes and/or bibliiograpy for related sources
- Use the side panels of various research tools to improve search resutls
- Be on the lookout for non-scholarly sources on this topic. War history is very popular in both scholarly and non-scholarly. Not sure how to tell? Use this guide.
Being able to organize your thoughts and navigate large collections of sources/references as you are researching is an important skill. Each researcher must choose the approach that works best for them.
Citation management software products like Mendeley and Zotero (amongst many others) are automated tools that assist researchers in managing their research sources. They allow you to store and manage your references/sources, create citations and bibliographies, and take notes on your sources. See the tabs here for advice on which one might be a match for you.
Many researchers use less technical methods very effectively - cue cards and handwriting, simpler software such as Word or Excel, or combinations of several methods. You should pick the one that is right for you.
This guide offers some examples and advice on the benefits of each method.
Reasons to consider Mendeley:
If you are not interested in learning a new software product, you might want to consider a more familiar program to help you organize your thoughts and sources. Below are two simple examples.
- How I Use Excel to Manage My Literature Review - One researcher explains how she used Excel to manage her PhD literature review.
- Scholarly Research Log - This is a simple, MS Word table based method of keeping track of your sources and thoughts. This could be expanded to create a separate document for each source you read, where you house citation information and your research notes.
Tips for file management:
- Establish a systematic way of naming your digital files. You should be able to tell what is in the file without having to open it.
- Include dates in file names. Be consistent in your approach - e.g., YYYY-MM-DD
- Include versions in the file name when you begin to draft your paper - e.g., draft1;. draft5
- BACK UP YOUR WORK. Using Google Drive or your MRU H-Drive is a good strategy for avoiding data loss.