Saturday, 14 September 2013

Organizing a large amount of information?

One of the questions I have now that I'm approaching the start of a PhD is about organization. I've written piddly little papers, a few articles, and a larger dissertation, though only 12,000 words. Compared to this a PhD thesis is a huge undertaking!  I'm wondering how people go about organizing their thoughts and work - both for smaller academic papers, and larger projects as well.

I need to organize my cats.  I mean my work.

My mother-in-law is a fiction writer who also has an academic background, so her advice in this has been really useful.  For her writing she uses Scrivener: "Scrivener is aimed at writers of all kinds—novelists, journalists, academics, screenwriters, playwrights—who need to structure a long piece of text while referring to research documents. Scrivener is a ring-binder, a scrapbook, a corkboard, an outliner and text editor all rolled into one."

Sounds good to me!  So I've downloaded a free trial (, which allows you to use it for 30 different days (they don't have to be consecutive).  Afterwards, it's only $40 to buy which sounds quite worth it if I find it's a useful organizing tool!  We'll see how this goes and if it's a good solution.  I can use all the help I can find.


  1. I would be fairly confident that as long as you are reasonably clear about what you are doing, there should be no problem at all about the length. If you remain clear about what questions you are addressing and – equally importantly – what questions you are not addressing, not only will everything fall into place but you will avoid going off on unproductive (for your PhD) tangents.

    It's always the basic ideas which matter most and, if you get them right, it will be easier and quicker than you think.

  2. sounds interesting! i have a minor in linguistics!

  3. Don't sweat the PhD thesis! I seem to remember mine basically reiterating work I had already published, so the bones were already there :)


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