Some tips for using OneNote as a research journal

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Tips by Joanna Paterson, Attribution-NonCommercial License

As I have mentioned before I use Endnote a lot, including for keeping a research journal. I like it a lot because it is flexible, searchable, automatically backed up on the cloud, and I can access it from my computer, ipad and phone so its always with me. OneNote can take a bit of getting used to, because it does not have all the features of writing software like Word, or table software like Excel. But it does do lots of things they don’t and links in well with them to make my life easier. Here are some tips I find particularly useful:

  1. Use your notebook as an alternative brain. You have enough to remember without cluttering your mind with where things are and what you did. Over a long project it gets hard to remember. Write it down in your notebook instead.
  2. Use the search function to find things. Once your notebook starts to get a lot of stuff in it, it can be hard to find things. But its much easier than a paper notebook because you have a search function.
  3. Rearrange pages and sections if you need to. OneNote will automatically put a date stamp on your entries so I tend to generally just enter them in sections by month. But sometimes I need to gather up all the pages that are on a certain topic and I move these to a new section on that topic. OneNote pages can be dragged and dropped to move them around easily.
  4. Make use of links to other parts of your OneNote notebook. Its easy to link to other pages and other notebooks in OneNote. Use this feature to refer to relevant previous entries like magic. Create organizing pages which summarise where things are.
  5. Use your notebook as one place to store information from all sorts of files, emails and webpages. You can create links to folders, spreadsheets and documents stored on your computer, send copies of emails to the notebook (including their attachments) and send copies of websites to your notebook. You can also insert photos of your fieldwork or photos of drawings/diagrams you have done. This way you have everything in one place where you can find it.
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