If you are working on a long-term project and need to do research on it, it’s a good idea to have a research journal. That’s a journal where you record where you searched, what you looked for, and what you found. I have been using OneNote for my family history research journal. It’s useful in that you can add pages on the fly, which are already date and time stamped. If you are doing research online, you can capture screen shots of the data right into OneNote. However, it can get somewhat disorganized after a while. The file can also get rather large. My solution is to see if I can move the pages I created last year into Scrivener. OneNote lets you send pages to any Office product, so I will do that. I will export the text, and any images to Word. Then I will import it into Scrivener. I have been organizing my journal so that it reads better then I will begin the move to Scrivener as an archive. I will continue to use OneNote, but I think I will be better served if I just put my archived material (pages from previous years) into Scrivener, where they can be compiled into a PDF file or even just a single document. I rather think the PDF file would be best. That’s what I’m doing.
Having a research journal allows you to see where you have already searched as well as what you have. My current arrangement was by surname, which got cumbersome rather quickly. That’s when I switched to chronological. If I use the PDF format, I can create an index that will allow me to navigate the file easily. I was thinking that one file for every two years of the journal would be useful, but I will have to make that decision when I see what I have. I’m still reorganizing it.
Going forward organizing the journal chronologically is likely the best solution, although it is useful to have it by surname. What I think I will end up doing is creating a series of cross reference pages, by surname. That way I can find the information that I want quickly and easily. Compiling to PDF, I can even have that cross-reference in the OneNote file and find the volume that I want. Then I can search in there by having an index of that file as well. Active indexes will let me navigate to the information I am looking for. it might be a two-stop process, but it will be easier than searching by turning pages. It will definitely be better than duplicating my research.
A research journal can also give you an idea of places to look again for updated records. It’s a good idea to keep a journal of your research. Even if you just do the bare bones of a list of what you searched for and where you looked, it is an invaluable tool to put in your research toolbox.