Personal information management

It would be advisable to record all the steps you take during the entire search process. This will help you to keep track of your search strategy and the search results. 

Registration of the search strategy

It is import to record your search strategy followed so that you can easily find out where you should change your search strategy when you found not enough or too much information.

You should always record the following:

  • your search profile: which search terms did you use? [see also section 'Before you start your search' from the course 'Searching for scholarly information'].
  • the sources you have searched: which databases, journals, websites, etc? [see also section 'Information resources' from the course 'Searching for scholarly information'].
  • the date of your search.
  • your search results.

Recording this information enables you to hold yourself accountable.

Tip: It is important to keep asking questions during the search process.
  • Is the question clearly defined?
  • Are you searching with the correct search terms?
  • Are you consulting the correct information sources?
  • Have you overlooked any information?

In this way, at the end of the search process, you can avoid drawing the conclusion that you were looking in the wrong place and having to start all over again.

Registration of the search results

To be able to make correct citations and paraphrases in your paper or thesis, it is useful to register some information about the books and articles found, like the author(s) and the title of the work, the pagenumbers of the article, etc. Finding this information afterwards is often difficult and timeconsuming.

You can record this information in a Word-document or in a cardsystem, but a program like RefWorks is designed for this purpose. The advantage of using a program like RefWorks (other programs are EndNote or Zotero) is that often you can export references directly from the database or catalogue you are using to Refworks. That saves a lot of typing, but don't forget to check the data!

If you find useful information, make sure that you acquire a copy of the information in some form. Borrow the book from the library or request the journal to photocopy the article. Another option is to download the article with the linkresolver; 360 Link or the Erasmus full text link. You can read more about this in the introductory course Get to know the University Library.

When you use RefWorks or a similar program, you can add attachments to the titles, like the pdf-version of the article or a Word-document with your own remarks. When you can't add an attachment (for example when the title is a book), then you should also register where the book or article is (for example in an ordner or returned to the library, etc).

More information about RefWorks is available in the online course RefWorks.