Staying organised is important over long term research projects, where it could be months or years between starting your search and submitting the final document. We have some tips and tricks below that will help you spend more time researching, and less time looking for things!
It's a great idea to keep a record of your search history during your project. It ensures that you avoid duplicating the same search unnecessarily and can re-run a search you performed months or years ago. Search histories can be saved in individual databases, or you can record you searches in one place, for example see Search History Worksheet.
Data Management is important to ensure the security and safety of your valuable research data, but can also help keep your information organised and save you time.
At the start of your project, it’s important to pay attention to:
- Folder and File naming: Consistently and sensibly naming your files and folders from the beginning of your project – including articles you download and will save you time looking for the right document.
- Version control: Come up with a system of file naming, documentation or use technology to ensure that you always know which file is the most up-to-date version.
- Backing up: What can you afford to lose? A day? A week? A month? Accidents happen, so make sure that you have a system in place to regularly back up your work.
Learn about this in more detail with our Data Management Planning materials
Referencing software has a huge number of time-saving benefits and functions. It can help you to:
- Keep track of journals and resources
- Save a list of references while you search
- Automatically generate in-text citations and bibliographies
- Change between referencing styles
- Attach pdfs and your notes -> store everything in the one location
- Search documents - even in the full text of attachments
- Annotate and highlight the full text in EndNote
At the library we provide support for:
Start using a good note taking system early on. It will help you with your writing and very importantly help you avoid plagiarism.
Save time by creating automatic alerts to keep up to date with new developments or resources in your field. We've listed a number of different alerts below and you can sign up to them through your email or using an RSS feed reader like Netvibes or feedly.
Set up alerts to receive the table of contents for key journals in your field each time a new issue comes out. We recommend using JournalTocs to subscribe to this alert via email or RSS feed.
Don't waste time repeating a search every couple of months! Set up a search alert to automatically let you know when new material is available. You can create search alerts in most databases and in library catalogues for books. They are set up differently in each database, so it is best to look for instructions in the help section of the database or Ask a Librarian for assistance.
- Web of Science - How to save your search history and set up a search alert.
Set up alerts for key researchers in your field to find out when they publish something new. You can set up these searches in the following databases:
Set up a citation alert to find out if a new publication cites a specific article. This can help you discover new research in your area and also can help you find out who has been citing your papers. You can create citation alerts through the following databases: