Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China

April 20, 2007

Note-taking: I need a system

Filed under: My research — amyjaneb @ 8:27 pm

In all the years I’ve been studying, I’ve yet to hit on a really effective method of note-taking.  As an undergraduate and while I was doing my MA I used to take hand-written notes as I was reading (which meant I ended up practically copying the whole text with minimal analysis).  When I started my PhD, I tried to do the same thing, with annotated notes (i.e. my thoughts as – and when – they arose) in red pen down the margin.  That was just too much like hard work.  It became increasingly difficult to absorb what the text was about.  So, then I started just reading, but marking quotes or sections of interest with post-it page markers, and followed up with hand-written, or typed notes at a later stage.  This worked okay, until I kept running out of page-markers (and damn they’re expensive!) and ended up with an enormous backlog of notes to be made.  So, at the moment, I’m back to reading books and making hand-written notes (or jottings really) as I go, and typing them up afterwards.  I have got better at analysing and assimilating and cross-referencing texts, but it’s not a satisfactory solution.  I’d be really interested to hear about any other tried and tested note-taking systems!



  1. There was a good discussion of precisely this question on Savage Minds a little while ago Savage Minds. I love the sound of the IRIS pen, but am not yet sure I can justify shelling out for it… Hope this provides some inspiration anyway!

    Comment by marystevens — April 23, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  2. Oooo – the IRIS pen looks good, though I fear I’d inadvertently just end up copying whole books! I guess I stick with my current system – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Comment by amyjaneb — April 23, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

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