Lots of different notetaking apps will allow you options for putting information into the app but Evernote leads the pack by providing both rapid and varied options for adding data. Evernote is one of those applications that just keeps evolving as the need arises. It would be impossible to describe all of its features in a single review and some of the material would be outdated by the time I finished. In previous posts about Evernote, I mentioned several features but in this post, will focus on the app's value in research and writing.
What Evernote Can Do?
For saving data, Evernote does almost anything you can imagine. Used in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet, the possibilities are endless. Evernote can receive input from almost every source including photos, clippings, typed notes, handwritten notes, paper documents, files, and emails. Routinely, I do the usual things that most people with such an app do, like saving web page data (using the Web Clipper extension for browsers), email attachments, and other documents but regularly use the IOS companion app, Scannable, to quickly scan paper documents and receipts using my iPhone. Evernote performs optical character recognition (OCR) on all documents so even the text in the document--handwriting or typed text-- can be searched. One blogger describes how she uses a smartphone to take pictures of pages that might contain quotes to use later.
The illustration below shows many ways to add information to Evernote and that is the first step in utilizing it as a research tool.
One of Evernote's Most Powerful Features!
I read many posts comparing notetaking apps and there are some effective apps available. I use several of them, but for my needs as a scholar and writer, my goto app will always be Evernote because of this one feature.
Why is Evernote the one that you should use for research and writing as compared to other well-known notetaking apps? The answer is simple: tags. This is what makes Evernote special and one of the best research and writing tools.
The traditional way of storing information on a computer involves using different folders for different groups of files, but conflicts arise when a particular file has information related to more than one topic. Where do you file it? Do you duplicate it and reduce the storage space on your computer? File duplication also has other issues. What if you make a change to one copy but fail to change the other copy? Tags give you the best of both. File it one place and access it based on the assigned tags.
Where did I put that document… that note…that image…that email???
It's one thing to accumulate articles, images, writings, and other bits of data--I have almost 3,500 notes in Evernote now--but what good is all of that if I cannot locate the applicable ones when writing? That is not to say that other apps will not allow you to search but those searches are a bit different, relying on words found in the documents or filenames. What about other related documents that don't contain those words? Tags solve that problem and Evernote includes multiple ways to add them to documents.
Using tags with Evernote is a breeze. Add them any time, while adding the note or later, when you review the day's accumulation. Another nice feature is batch tagging. For example, you just spent 2 hours researching a particular topic and saved a dozen or so notes to Evernote. Select all of them and add as many tags as needed.
That's not all; it gets better. When researching web pages, use the Web Clipper add-in for your browser to preset both tags and notebook before starting and assign them when you clip the material. Using preset the tags makes researching online much quicker as files can be tagged automatically. Note that you can still add or modify the tags later. Sometimes, I use the presets and sometimes, I just clip what I want and then refine or add the tags at the end of the session.
What About My Existing Notes??
It may take a while to tag all your notes. Here's an easy way to start the tagging process with your existing notes. Evernote also has powerful search features because all notes undergo OCR. You can create searches for multiple attributes and then save the search
for future use. But back to the topic! Search for the topic of interest. Batch tag the matching files and then selectively add tags as needed. That will speed the process a bit. As you begin to write, you will most likely think of other articles that are not yet tagged. Just search for them and tag appropriately. Within a short time, your files are tagged for easy access. This is a dynamic process as you will add or delete tags over time.
Give Evernote a Try!
Try Evernote with the free account. If you like it, there are significant academic discounts for both faculty and students.
Dr. Robert George