Evernote is probably the most useful tool in the researcher’s digital toolbox. Some of the things you can do with Evernote include:
- Capture all or parts of a web page.
- Save typed or dictated notes.
- Add files.
- Add images.
- Save email messages, even Tweets.
- Photograph/scan a record with your smartphone and send it to your collection.
- Share notebooks with others to compare notes.
Evernote is available on your desktop, tablet, smartphone and anywhere you have access to the Web. And, it automatically keeps everything you add synchronized across all your devices.
With all this functionality, if you’re using Evernote to collect and manage your research, it is already building a good portion of your research log for you. You’re already collecting your “hits” with it. Now you just need to document your “misses”. I use the text note to document things I can’t capture. Sometimes my notes just describe one search and its result. Sometimes one note may cover a number of searches, people and places. If my tags are consistent, I don’t need a precise format for the content of the note. Each research note (text, document, web capture, image, etc.) I create includes tags for all surnames mentioned, places and other descriptors. I don’t waste time putting my notes into specific notebooks either. I have a notebook for Family Research and everything gets dumped in there. Saved searches do my organization for me and tag searches quickly display everything I have on a specific surname, location or topic.
Evernote isn’t the only tag-based system I use. My photos, documents, ebook library and more are organized and managed with tags. As a result, I’ve built my own tag taxonomy (Would that be called a tagsonomy?) that has become second nature. Platforms like Evernote work for me because they are flexible enough to fit my rather strange methods. My system isn’t very pretty, but it puts the information I need in my face in a matter of seconds.
In addition to being a notebook, todo list and information directory, Evernote has now become my research log too.