Suggestions, tips, and techniques requested!
How do you take notes from books & journals and keep them organized for quick reference in the future?
As I continue on in my studies I am finding that I am (a) reading more books (b) with more density in content and (c) cover a wider range of topics--and it can be very difficult to recall this information without good organization.
As I am working on my thesis this issue has manifest itself. I have solid recall of authors and relevant points of interest but it isn't perfect. And even when I remember the point it can take time to find the content I want (e.g. this weekend I spent about 20 minutes browsing through a 400 page book looking for a comment, which ended up in a footnote with some references to further reading). I already have dozens of books I need to read or reread for my thesis so cutting down time backtracking to books outside the immediate context but have valuable periphrial content would be great--especially as I look down the road to more research as well as smaller topics that will benefit from a spattering of points across many books.
A good example of my dilemma is Craig Blomberg's Jesus and the Gospels. Blomberg covers a vast scope topics, has a lot of insights, and a lot of references to salient resources. After taking notes for that book I decided to go away from pen&paper and go with audio notes. Unfortunately I still have to digitize the notes and, more importantly, store them in a way for quick access.
So for all your great scholars with thousands of books you wish to reference
(1) How do you take notes? At your PC? Audio? Stickies?
(2) How do you keep your notes centralized for quick access.
My general problem is not linear commentaries or narrowly focused topical books (when you are studying a verse or topic they are quite easy to reference). The problem is books that cover broader topics, have a spattering of interesting exegetical points, and so forth.
I am reserved to the fact, at this moment, of taking audio notes and trying to refine my approach to something like:
Category: (topic, word, verse, reference, etc)
Concise Point: (a VERY short summary of issue and positionI would like to refine this approach (or BETTER ones!), so any suggestions would be great. Right now my notes are too long and take far too long to transcribe... I may also look into a wave-to-text converter.
Putting all these notes into a single document and then store them in a folder structure would probably work... so I am thinking outloud here and fishing for some feedback:
BW Notes (Folder)
..... Book Notes (Folder)
.......... Authors (Folders)
............... Books (Files)
I recently read Walter Kaisers, "The Messiah in the Old Testament" so I would create a file with all my notes and then put it into a folder something like this:
BW Notes (Folder)
..... Book Notes (Folder)
.......... Kaiser (Folders)
............... The Messiah in the Old Testament (File)
............... Toward an Old Testament Theology (File)
............... Toward an Exegetical Theology (File)
I am sure most of you have been down this road before... so what have you found that works?
I am currently working on my thesis in addition to a number of papers for school on a variety of topics and have found myself spending more time thumbing through books (with either sticky notes, highlighting, or pencil markings) trying to find information I need. Sometimes it is easy because it is a major point to a chapter... other times it is a single page that engages a single technical angle with a number of references that I need to review to properly tackle the topic, etc. It is great when a book has a useful index, but not all do ... not to mention I sometimes forget (a) what book a point was in and (b) forget some great information I had read to begin with! Sometimes an author makes a great comments/insight that may not be central to your current project but it may be a worthwhile addition to flesh out your thoughts.
The more my library grows and the more topics they cover... ugh! I mean that in a good way
So I am cheating: how are others dealing with these issues? Taking good notes that are worthwhile years down the road is a big positive. Less time searching aimlessly, more time thinking.
Thanks for your time!