Reviewing Helpful Tools for Ph.D. Students: Evernote

For the next several blog posts I will concentrate on some of the tools that I have found helpful in the writing of my Ph.D. thesis. I begin here with Evernote.

If you are not familiar Evernote, the software allows you to clip information you find on the web and to store it for safe keeping. It allows you to do the same for emails in your inbox or even PDFs and Word Docs on your computer.

Evernote Meetup Paris

Evernote Running on iOS (Wikimedia Commons)

While this service does not sound too exciting, when you are working with a lot of information arriving from several different sources it becomes tremendously helpful. In this blog, I will recount how Evernote assisted me in preparing for my upcoming paper presentation at the Baptist Historical Conference in Manchester.

While I was conducting research for my paper, I used the Evernote app on my iPhone to scan portions of books and articles from sources at our university library. Doing so instantly made the text of these documents searchable; it allowed me to search for particular names or concepts across multiple sources quickly. Also, if I found a book that appeared relevant to my work while browsing websites such as Amazon or WorldCat, I used the Evernote browser plug-in to save the bibliographic information. This action allowed me quickly to compile a list of potential sources with almost minimal effort.

When I began to write my paper, I used Evernote as a repository into which I placed my rough drafts and brainstorms. Evernote seems to me somehow less serious than Microsoft Word; I can play with sentences in the software, save them, and not worry about corrupting the more polished version of my paper in Word.


Evernote Smart Notebook

Now that my paper is nearing its completion, I need to start sorting out the logistics of my trip. Today I purchased my train tickets to Manchester. I also received the final draft of the conference schedule. I emailed both documents my Evernote account. Doing so means that I will not have to wonder through my house searching for my tickets or my schedule on the day that I depart; both documents will be there for me as soon as I open the Evernote app on my phone.

While I am traveling on the train, I will be able to review my paper as well as all of the sources that I consulted while writing it with just a few quick taps on my iPad. I will not have to bring with me several different articles or books. I will not even have to search through multiple folders on my Mac. Every resource that I used in the production of my paper will be in one digital place so that I can quickly look over everything and collect my thoughts.

And Repeat
To get a sense of my life, imagine multiple projects such as this one happening simultaneously. While working on this paper, I have also been working on a paper that I am to present at the Ecclesiastical Historical Society the following week. I have my usual thesis work and all of the documents associated with it. I have papers and notes related to the online classes I am teaching for the Baptist College of Florida. I have not even begun to mention here all of the files related to my personal life—passport paperwork for Sophia, digital brochures of places April and I would like to visit, names of books that I would like to read in my (almost nonexistent) spare time, etc.
It is this busyness that makes Evernote indispensable for me. It helps me increase my productivity and not worry about losing information. It helps my typically disorganized self remain on track and feel on top of things. If you do not use Evernote, what software do you like to track documents and notes (OneNote, Apple Notes, etc.)? What have you found helpful?

Evernote US Website:

About David Rathel

Husband to April; Baptist Minister; Student at St. Mary's Divinity School at the University of St. Andrews
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3 Responses to Reviewing Helpful Tools for Ph.D. Students: Evernote

  1. Pingback: Back to School: Apps to Help Us Work Well and Play Well  | David Rathel's Research Page

  2. Pingback: My Five Productivity Hacks for Online Professors | David Rathel's Research Page

  3. Pingback: While you wait… – Theology at St Andrews

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