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  • Writer's pictureJenia Browne

Organization and Starting the Research Process

Hello! It's been awhile. I've been rather busy working on co-op, starting graduate school applications, and traveling for pride, but we're back! And I'm excited to start sharing my research progress with you. Today marks the end of the first week of my PEAK Summit Award Project. Although I was fighting being sick, I'm proud of what I've done so far!


To start, I really wanted to make sure that I was organized and knew what I was doing, how I was doing it, and when I had to get it done. I'm a bit of a stickler for project organization, and for a project this big, it was important to make sure I was not organized for myself, but for my project mentor (Dr. Layla Brown) as well. Thankfully, I have become rather acquainted with a few tools that will be useful now as well as in my future graduate school endeavors. This might not be the most exciting thing to read about, but I figured sharing what I know about project organization would be interesting/beneficial to somebody! (Also - obviously no one paid me to write about these things, I just think it's super interesting!)


The first (and most important) tool for my project is going to be Notion. If you know me well (or at all), you know how obsessed I am with this platform! I will be using Notion to track my progress on the larger phases of my project, as well as my individual to-dos and tasks. With the roll-up feature, checking off a to-do very satisfyingly fills out a progress bar for the respective research phase. I use Notion for personal to-dos, research projects, coursework, graduate school applications, fellowship applications, club organization, and about anything else you can think of. I will also be using it to track my reading progress once I start this week. The page is sharable with my mentor, so Dr. Brown can check-in on my progress without having to meet/reach out to me as well. Below is an example of my research page!

The second two platforms I plan on using are very new to me: Scrivener and Zotero. I'll start with Zotero. I've used ZoteroBib, the simpler, online version of Zotero, many many times. I'd say it's by far my favorite citation website; it's easy to use, accessible, and saves your bibliography for you! But since this is a larger scale project, and I'm preparing to be in graduate school, I figure that I should learn to use the more complex but likely more useful desktop app. Plus, it's free! I've only played around with it a bit, but I've began adding my main sources to my project folder. It will also be beneficial to have all of my sources across multiple projects stored in one place. I'm looking forward to becoming more familiar with it and getting to use it long term!


Second, and a bit more confusing to me, is Scrivener. Made for longer writing projects, it's supposed to function like a ring binder where you can store almost everything you need for your project — documents, sources, images, drafts, etc. It has features that mimic index cards (corkboard) and outlines (outliner). The tutorial took me about two hours to complete, and there's still so much I don't know! But the most beneficial feature seems to be the draft section. The platform allows you to write in separate documents and export (compile) them as one to make chapters or sections easier to navigate. For a longer paper like this one, I think this will be super helpful, especially considering the short amount of time I have to write throughout the process.


So that's about it on organization. Again, not the most riveting to most, but riveting to me! Learning how to keep myself on track has been one of my main takeaways from college. As someone who can struggle with time and project management, I'm definitely proud of how far I've come. Setting self-deadlines and sticking to them is one of my main goals this summer, especially considering how much else I'm doing (work, grad school applications, coursework, Fulbright applications, etc.). If I want to succeed in my final year of undergrad and beyond, it's important that I continue to learn how to pace myself, set realistic expectations, and follow through. I'm hoping that this blog keeps me accountable as well!


I've also began looking at my secondary sources and working on my literature review. It's important to me to have a strong understanding of what's been done prior to sharpen my research question. I've spent time identifying relevant journals and databases to use in addition to the main books I am using to make sure I have a robust amount of information to move forward. Next post, I'll have more information on that! Thanks for coming along on this journey with me, I can't wait to see where this project goes!


Talk soon (aka next week),

Jenia

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