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Software for organising research material

Posted on 2009-12-31
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I'm probably going to regret asking this question because there is going to be hundreds of possible solutions and everyone will have their preference.

However, I am looking for a piece of software that will allow me to easily collate lots of different bits of information for a research project and then be able to search/retrieve based on text search, tags, notes etc.  It needs to flexible, easy to use and to able to attached a reference or link to the original source.

The sort of things I'm looking to kept track of are:
- Website links including PDF links
- Various documents (on local hard disk, network etc)
- Photographs
- Telephone conversations (notes from)
- Email
- Snippits of information pulled from sources, perhaps with additional notes

The s/w can be PC and/or Mac based and the information store should be local and not based nfrastructures like Exchange or Sharepoint.  I will look at web based apps/storage as long as the system can be run offline.  iPhone sync would be nice.

What are the hot products for this sort of thing?

Thanks
BT

 
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Question by:brothertom
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LVL 23

Accepted Solution

by:
redrumkev earned 1600 total points
ID: 26154540
brothertom,

How are you doing?

I would recommend that you use MS OneNote, which is part of the MS Office Suite (though your current version might not include it). It addresses all of the issues you have outlined, is pretty easy to use (After a brief learning curve) and has LOTS of help via the web.

Here is a a few brief over views:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/HA010982791033.aspx
   * Notice in the above, you can send the "outline" to Word, to help build your final paper/project/presentation. This step alone could save a week of work, plus you won't "forget" this or that, if you conduct your research over say many months.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2064175_use-onenote-2007-as-research.html

http://www.brighthub.com/office/home/articles/10674.aspx

I am sure there are more advanced, research specific tools, probably built on complex databases, but to cover all the areas you have asked for, this is probably the single most user friendly, highly available and affordable solution!

Hope this helps and good luck with your project!
Kevin
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:redrumkev
redrumkev earned 1600 total points
ID: 26154557
Forgot to add,

10 reasons to try:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/HA101650251033.aspx

Product overview:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/HA101656661033.aspx

Also note - there is a free 60 day "full trial" at the bottom of the product overview page. But go through the one note website and look at all the templates and options that are available.

Plus there is a demo:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/HA101672671033.aspx

Kevin
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LVL 12

Assisted Solution

by:hathehariken
hathehariken earned 200 total points
ID: 26154713
Onenote is the best.
i have been using it for the last few months, and my work efficiency has increased.
no bits of paper, no scribbled post-its, no hunting for telephone numbers or bookmarks...

try it - you will not regret it.

happy holidays!
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Author Comment

by:brothertom
ID: 26154729
Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the Onenote recommendation - for some reason I've been trying to avoid Onenote for years - perhaps I should take another look.  The thing I don't like about it is its tied into Outlook and the MS file structrue - ideally I would like to have the data stored in a vendor independant (as much as one can) database.

Having said that, perhaps you can query the Onenote database externally?
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LVL 41

Assisted Solution

by:Eoin OSullivan
Eoin OSullivan earned 200 total points
ID: 26154784
On a Mac .. there is a great tool called LEAP .. allows you to assign tags & keywords to all your files (any type) and search your entire Mac for documents files .. it works a little like Spotlight but with the ability to to tag and annotate stuff.

http://www.ironicsoftware.com/leap

It also has a few companion products called Fresh & Deep which help keep track of Recent Files and searching files based on images/colours.
 
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:redrumkev
redrumkev earned 1600 total points
ID: 26155793
brothertom,

I actually do not know of a way to externally query the data, however, if it is possible, I am sure it is out there on one of the onenote blogs.  I would search for uses of onenote that are directly related to the type of research you are conducting, such as using surveys, case studies, peer review, etc., as specific solutions to the obstacles I am sure you are going to encounter, will be explained in great depth.

My most recent use of the software was during the rebuilding of our house, which was a foreclosure that we purchased back in May of 2009. I collected how to's, for installing products, who had the best prices, scans of documents from the city, receipts by contractors, etc. I was able to collect, keep and organize all this data in one location. If I wanted to take it one step further, I could export (as an outline) and write a paper about it, but since I can now live in it, I use that as my documentation!

I have had great luck with the office 2007 file system and OneNote 2010 is due out soon, so it should be even better!

Kevin
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Author Comment

by:brothertom
ID: 26169751
I've been using One Note for a few days now and it does seem I have rather misjudged this product.  It really is very good, as you said Kevin.

Many thanks for the suggestion and help links.

Thanks also to eoinosullivan for the Mac s/w - Will check this out also.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:redrumkev
ID: 26173168
brothertom,

Please, just do me one favor, don't get addicted to one note! I have heard a few stories of people that "can not function without it"!!!

Good luck in your research!

Thank you for the grade,
Kevin
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:hathehariken
ID: 26173179
glad we could help!
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Author Comment

by:brothertom
ID: 26173346
Just one footnote - for the Mac, Yojimbo has been recommneded.
http://www.barebones.com/products/Yojimbo/

Looks interesting for random information collection.
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