Background: I’ll start to write my (cumulative) dissertation in two months.

I’m currently struggeling to find a good technical solution to organize research-related thoughts for my dissertation. For each chapter, I currently have an individual Trello board with lists such as “ToDo”, “Research Ideas”, “References”, “small thoughts / phrases / arguments for certain design choices”. This seemed to work at the beginning, but now I have so many “small phrases” that I lost the overview of them.

Up until now when I was working on papers, I usually wrote all my thoughts into the corresponding sections of the papers. However, with my dissertation as a “larger paper”, I don’t think it’s feasible to organize my thoughts this way.

How do you organize 100+ “small thoughts” about your research and still have a good overview? I know that I can use a physical notebook but I’d rather have an online solution that allows me to quickly reorganize my thoughts (which a notebook does not).

I know that Good practices for organizing notes is related but the answers were discussing online vs. offline and the general guideline was ‘whatever helps you’.

I’ve recently started to use the onenote software to keep track of valuable concepts in different fields of interest. I have constantly found myself dubious during the note taking process. I never know whether I should copy large book paragraphs into my notes or whether I should summarize them. I have little knowledge about how to make the most value out of my note taking process. Is there any good book recommendation or resource to help me answer these kind of questions ?

I’ve recently started to use the onenote software to keep track of valuable concepts in different fields of interest. I have constantly found myself dubious during the note taking process. I never know whether I should copy large book paragraphs into my notes or whether I should summarize them. I have little knowledge about how to make the most value out of my note taking process. Is there any good book recommendation or resource to help me answer these kind of questions ?

I am an undergraduate student. This semester, I’m taking a 1.5 credit course, which is a 1.5 hour lecture once a week from a rotation of different speakers. There will be a final at the end of the semester.

The course coordinator, Mack (Not His Real Nameā„¢), cannot come to every lecture. He therefore asked me to give him my notes, both for his review and also as as a basis for the final exam. Because my notes will be a part of the test, he asked that I 1) do not tell anyone that my notes will be a basis for the test 2) do not share my notes with anyone else.

A number of students noticed that I take notes during lecture, and have approached me to ask for a copy of my notes. They’re not constantly asking for notes; in fact, at least one of these students (who I know to be a very hard worker in school) does take his own notes, but wants to compare notes just in case he missed something (this is something that he does in every course).

I’m having some difficulty convincing them that they don’t want my notes. I told them that I write in partial shorthand (which is true), and that the notes are just rough notes (also true), but some students say they want my notes anyway. I suppose I could always “forget” to give them my notes, but this is neither foolproof nor polite.

How can I politely refuse to share my notes with my classmates in this situation?


I am aware of the XY problem — I can imagine a solution to the situation where I share the notes anyway, or ask Mack for permission to share my notes. However, I’d like to help Mack (his alternative is to listen to 15 x 1.5 hour recordings), while still remaining on good terms with my classmates, and not ruining the final exam.

I’m interested in nuclear physics, and I’m building a cloud chamber. Because I’d like to do science fairs and (eventually) go to college and publish papers in the field of physics, I thought it would be good practice to keep a lab journal. (For reference, I’m in the U.S. and am currently, of course, an amateur.)

I am currently doing some research into how I want to construct part of the cloud chamber and also into which parts I wish to purchase. Is it best practice to record which parts I picked and why I picked them?

Note: If there’s any information I should add, please let me know; this is the first question I’ve asked on Academia.SE.

Let’s say I’m writing a set of notes on a specialized topic, based off of notes from a deceased professor, who he himself had a disclaimer that his notes (theorems, proofs, ideas) were not properly attributed and cited, due to time constraints. What should I do then, if I plan to distribute my notes / post it on a website? Should I have a disclaimer of my own?

This question already has an answer here:

A lecturer does not make slides or lecture notes available (e.g. on the course website) in an effort to force students to show up at lectures.

Some of us students feel this is a terrible policy: many students learn the material just fine without attending each and every lecture, so it is not a necessary policy, and it also seems unethical to force us all to show up, because what if we just happened to have something more important to deal with on some given day?

As a response, some of us have decided to write extensive notes together and put them up on a filesharing website, and we’ve notified other students of this using the course websites’ discussion forum. The lecturer has now messaged one of us (the one who made the post on the forum) and told him to stop doing this.

What should our response be? Does the lecturer have any say in this? Are we in the wrong?

When taking notes while studying papers or concepts I’m always torn between

  1. classic pen & paper approach, which I personally find more productive;
  2. digital approach, will make it easier to find/sort/filter information later

I’m going to be a Computer Science Ph.D student, so I have to be quite productive (solution 1), but also, to work on the long term, so building my own “knowledge database” (sol. 2) makes sense.

I am currently thinking about developing my own tool based on markdown notes, git version & a query tools to find information, to tag/link items as well a generate bibliography etc.

What is considered the most useful way of taking notes, particularly for non-class settings?