Whether it’s for writing or not, I do research. Sometimes, it’s for work. Sometimes, I’m just curious about how Conde Nast’s Bon Appetit went down in flames. Research is always a good thing — it lets me cross-pollinate ideas. But mostly, it involves opening gazillion tabs on my browser — so many that I don’t even know which one is for what. It’s a super frustrating experience. The worst part is when my browser crashes because it can’t take the overload.
When this kept getting out of hand, I had to come up with some rules.
Open a new window whenever I need to research a new topic, for work or otherwise. When I’m done researching (not finishing the whole project, because that might take days), I close the whole window.
Use bookmarks wisely. Bookmarking important pages is a really great way to keep a list of your links. I use it sparingly; I find that this works best when you need to keep a reference close at hand or an important resource you don’t use often, like syntax for a programming language I’m trying to learn, for example.
Maintain a resources file. As a writer, I have to cite my sources, so it helps to maintain a list of websites and pages that I find the most relevant. I’m very specific when I write down what it is (e.g., “Digitisation in India – McKinsey ”). And then, I hyperlink it. Especially if I find insights or data from it that I fully intend to use in my blog post, I’ll copy-paste the sentence under this source. This helps me keep track of my research and go back to it whenever I need, and I don’t have to click on every link to find out what it is.
Use a session manager like Session Buddy. A true life saver! It’s a simple Google extension that lets me save a collection of tabs under a specific name (e.g. “Research for new story”). Whenever you need to reopen and revisit all your tabs at once, you just have to launch that session.
I hope these ideas help make the process of research more organised and enjoyable for you! Let me know how it goes.
Written by Neeru Nagarajan, a Pushcart-nominated writer, is a writer at emdash. She’s a recent MFA graduate and taught academic and creative writing at Bowling Green State University (Ohio). She’s @poonaikaari on Twitter.