Research: The Tools

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I was thinking about where I should start the series on research.  After much thought, the appropriate starting place seemed to be on tools that I have used previously and am currently learning.

The Basics

Pen/Pencil/Highlighter – I tend toward pencils for general note taking, pens for writing down free-writes and my own ideas quickly, and highlighters for going through my notes. I also tend to use highlighters for important themes in printed material, and adding a bit of spunk to my own handwritten headers.

Notebook/Papers – Index cards are fun for quick ideas and short notes to shuffle through later (one of the pros is that they’re easy to put into the order you decide on).  Otherwise I tend toward both loose-leaf and bound notebooks.  With both full-page options I use headers and an index so I can look up what I need with ease.*

Planner – A planner gives me space where I can set down both my own deadlines and those imposed on me.  It helps me to figure out what I need to do, and by when.  I’ve been stressed out enough with late-nighters due to procrastination and since then I’ve done my best to avoid them.

Coffee – Lots of coffeeeeeeee! (Or tea for those of you tea drinkers out there).

Digital Tools

Zotero – This is a little more academic in nature and not as necessary for fiction writing.  But I am working through learning it for when I head back to school as, by all accounts, it’s a useful note taking and citation tool.

Microsoft Word – Has footnote/endnote/citation functionality.  Can be organized fairly well if utilizing the headers and index functions.

OneNote/Evernote – Digital Notebooks.  Can be organized by notebooks, sections, pages.  Easy to copy and paste from websites.  Also easy to search through notes.

Scrivener – Breaks down documents into chapters, sections, and research.  There is a lot of versatility in moving sections of papers around.


Wikipedia – I typically go here for a brief overview of what I’m looking for and then follow the links provided in the references section.

Google Scholar – Academic article search.

Your Library’s Catalog – Websites to help you search through your own library’s book catalog.

Your Online Search Engine of Choice

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

*Lest you think I am super organized and on top of my life, let me assure you I am not.  Generally the index gets updated much further along, when I’m finally tired of flipping through pages I should I have written down earlier.


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