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6-Organising information

Topic 3    Ways to organise

Activity    Organising information

In order to investigate ways of organising information we asked some of our OU friends and colleagues about the methods they use. All of them are doing modules that require then to write quite lengthy TMAs or projects but they all have different ways of organising the information that they need to complete these assignments.

Silhouette of female head and sholders

“I keep photocopies of what I've read in a box file. I used to keep a separate list on my word processor of everything that was in the file but it was too much effort to keep it up to date. I find it just as easy to make sure that the reference is written on the top of my notes, and the notes are clipped to the photocopy, if I made one. I did try storing the articles in alphabetical order by who'd written them, but that made it more difficult to find things again – I tend to think in terms of topics, rather than who wrote what, so the articles tend to be filed alongside other articles on the same subject.”

Silhouette of male head and sholders

“I keep all my lecture notes and articles in binders, with file dividers, according to what topic they're on. That way everything is in the right place for when I come to revise for the exams or write the assignments.”

Silhouette of female head and sholders

“I put web pages, ejournals and online stuff into my social bookmarks. I use delicious as it's quite simple to use, and I can access it from any PC connected to the internet. I like the social aspect of seeing who else has tagged sites I use, as it can lead to me to find new stuff for my studies.”

Silhouette of male head and sholders

“I use RefWorks to organise all my references. It’s really useful because some of the key databases in my subject allow me to export records straight in RefWorks, and it works with Google Scholar too. This saves me having to manually type things in. I use it to create my bibliographies automatically.”

We can't tell you which system to use – everybody's preferences will be different, particularly when it comes to deciding between paper and computerised systems. However, we think that paper-based filing systems are fine for most undergraduate work. If you are comfortable with computers and your work is likely to continue beyond a single assignment, to extended essay or even Masters level, it may be worth looking into computerised solutions. We will find out more about these in Topic 6.


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