Friday, December 13, 2013

First Steps Towards a Literature Review

My research workflow and note-taking
Research and note-taking (Raul P)
by theclerkstale:

Having spent the past 7 weeks of my PhD reading broadly on different aspects of my topic, this month marks the point where I want to start working towards a specific goal - the literature review and methodology.

I have already read some of the most important articles on my topic and have taken notes and highlighted but I am planning to revisit them and to write down specific points the authors are making, why they study it and how they do it.

I have designed a draft template which I will use to divide information I read in articles into different categories (what has been said, the identification of gaps, the methodology used).

At the moment, all my notes are either on Evernote or digitally scribbled onto PDFs. I have found Evernote extremely useful for note taking as I can access it from my laptop, tablet, phone or any other computer and it is much quicker than note-taking by hand (which I did in the beginning).

As I work with both electronic copies and hard copies keeping track of my reading on Mendeley has been very handy. For this month I am planning to re-read the articles most relevant to my research question to accumulate information for my literature review and methodology.

The literature search can be quite tricky as the focus of my research is very often not stated in the title or abstract of the literature I am searching.

The most logical next step is to consult manuscript catalogues in hope that the entries mention the number of scribes involved in the production process.

In addition, I will have to start doing some actual bibliographical research with a small number of manuscripts, because I will give a paper in April and I am scheduled to give an informal talk at Leiden in March.

I think the timing of the paper and proeflezing (Ed: proofreading in Dutch) is ideal, because the deadlines make me go the special collections and note down some early observations, rather than hiding behind my books for too long.

Things are going to be very busy in the first months of 2014: I’m transforming my MSt dissertation/ conference paper into a chapter for a conference proceedings publication, I’m curating a manuscript display in February, continuing my Latin classes, writing a conference paper and teaching/ designing a course in March - exciting and scary at the same time!

All in all, I’m very much enjoying myself and I am looking forward to the months ahead.
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