Data Mindfulness: Dealing with Literature

The first step in your dissertation is
likely to be a literature search and this will be for two reasons. One because
you will need to find a gap in the literature, you will need to become
familiar with the area of research that you want to contribute towards, and so
in that sense it will be part of your research process but it is also
likely to become a chapter in your dissertation as we’ve discussed and it’s
likely to become a chapter two, and if you are conducting a theory dissertation, it is likely to be most of the content of your dissertation. When dealing with
literature it is too easy to simply just type in something in the computer that you want to look up, download an article and just save it as it is downloaded maybe
as a bunch of numbers or name this that doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s also too
easy to just make notes out of something online and then not save the article
correctly and then find it really hard to find it again, I’ve definitely done that
and I’ve cursed myself for doing that many times and not being able to find
articles that I needed later on. Another issue that seems to come up time and
time again with my students is referencing and what I mean with this is
having a system to organize your references but also to cite things
correctly. Now my top tips to deal with literature are: Number 1: Storage. Think
methodically about how you’re going to save and also store your literature. My advice
is that you create a folder or perhaps a set of folders in which you save everything you read or
that you think you will read. Now that is useful for two reasons. One because that way
you can keep track of everything you’ve read or everything you’ve taken notes
from and you can find it really easily again if you need to. And number two, which is maybe not so obvious, is that by organizing your literature as you go
along it will also help you to make sense of a bit more, so perhaps you want
to organize it by themes, or by eras, or by authors, and that’s part of
understanding the area of research; and also will be helpful when you come to
write your literature review. Number 2: File Names.
When you come to download or save and store your literature it’s important to
think about file names because you don’t want to end up with a bunch of files
that don’t mean anything and then you can’t find the article you’re looking
for for example, so my advice is think about a strategy to name those files and
stick to it. For example, I tend to always save my
articles in this format: I always do author, then I do the year, and then I put
the title of the article, and then I might add a keyword at the end. The
reason why I do keywords is because it’s very easy to then search articles and
and find what I need to very quickly by just simply looking at the quick
keywords that I’ve put at the end of the file name. And the third and final tip is:
Referencing managers. Now, for those of you who have never used a reference
manager are simply a piece of software which you can use to save, organize, and
also cite your references, so many of them will have a plug-in that you can
use with Word and that will mean that, say you’re writing a sentence and you
want to cite Jones 2015, you can just add it automatically and you know it will be
done well in whichever style you need to so it might be Harvard
or Chicago or maybe footnotes whichever it is you need. And to summarize, my three top
tips for dealing with literature are: One, think about storage carefully. Two, create
a plan for your file names and stick to it; and three, start using referencing
managers early on.

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