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Pierre Johnson

mac Evernote is great, but difficult for finding research notes

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I love the functions of Evernote, above all the fact that it is always available and handy to write them some information, or memorizing a picture. However, I meet some issues while trying to use it for intensive research, mostly due to the fact that Notebooks, which are kinds of Folders, are not so much as hand, and difficult to browse around.

 

I use Evernote as a research and note taking application. I have a big mass of information and notes. Chronological order is not very relevant for my work. Classification is more. 

I have been using DevonThinkPro for its power on stand-alone devices. However, I prefer Evernote for being cross-device. But it is much easier for me to find information on the former, than on the latter. Notebooks are hidden behind the main user interface, and when Notebooks show up, they are not always all there. Notes are in a chronological order, which is not my natural way of working.

 

How do you recommend using Evernote to reach my research and annotation needs? 

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Descriptive titles, careful tagging, and heavy use of the search function are crucial. I very rarely "browse" around Evernote. Typically it's selecting an appropriate notebook e.g. "Academic literature" or "manuscript blah", drilling down by tag, e.g., "Marxist materialism" or "survey manuscript", then browsing the very specific results presented.

Or I search for something specific, perhaps within a specific notebook. So perhaps I isolate the academic literature notebook and I want to find my notes on Articles about "performativity", so I search for that word and it returns instances of that phrase in the notebook, so presumably every note that is presented has to do with "performativity".

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Search is king.

 

The most obvious way to categorize things is to manually put them into specific notebooks.  Then you might notice that you have to make copies.  Tags to the rescue!  Eventually you realize that you're usually just tagging notes with uncommon words that already appear in text.  What if you didn't tag?

 

Instead of tagging, you can save searches.  The articles are automatically "tagged" by their content, and you get the convenience of something to click on to open all the categorically related articles.  The newish "Related Notes" feature can help you cross categories.

 

Here's an example.  I have an IFTTT recipe that saves Federal Circuit documents from an RSS feed to a notebook called "Federal Circuit Cases".  I don't manually tag or categorize any of this, as it's automatically downloaded and that'd just create work for me.  Instead, I have a saved search for patent cases.  It looks like this:

notebook:"Federal Circuit Cases" "patent"

And now I can find all the cases that have something to do with patents, and I didn't have to tag or categorize anything by hand.

 

I don't even really have that many saved searches though, because to me it's more powerful to "invent" categories at the moment that I need them with search.

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Also, you can change the sort order.  The default sort order is modification date, which doesn't make sense to me.  I prefer to sort by creation date.  You can also sort by title or tags.

 

 

Not knowing your exact use-case, there are schemes you can use to make up for some of the feature differences between something like DevonThinkPro and Evernote.

 

For example, you can use "top list view" and right-click on the column headers to add the "Notebook" column.  Now, if you click on a Notebook Stack, search, or create a saved search, you can see exactly which notebook each note is from.  You can sort by notebook, putting notebooks frontmost.

 

You can do something similar with tags.  Again, you can use the "top list view" and make sure the tags column is present.  Tag the notes how you want and sort by tags.  In this case, you might want to use a scheme that doesn't require you to tag with more than one tag.

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I love the functions of Evernote, above all the fact that it is always available and handy to write them some information, or memorizing a picture. However, I meet some issues while trying to use it for intensive research, mostly due to the fact that Notebooks, which are kinds of Folders, are not so much as hand, and difficult to browse around.

 

I use Evernote as a research and note taking application. I have a big mass of information and notes. Chronological order is not very relevant for my work. Classification is more. 

I have been using DevonThinkPro for its power on stand-alone devices. However, I prefer Evernote for being cross-device. But it is much easier for me to find information on the former, than on the latter. Notebooks are hidden behind the main user interface, and when Notebooks show up, they are not always all there. Notes are in a chronological order, which is not my natural way of working.

 

How do you recommend using Evernote to reach my research and annotation needs? 

 

I suppose it depends upon your research. You can point DevonThink to your Evernote database and have it index the contents. Evernote search + Spotlight (I use HoudahSpot) + DevonThink is pretty powerful for sorting through your data. If you want to find your database, take a look at these locations.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=135

 

Personally, as others have mentioned, I've found the advanced search features, sort orders (I recommend using the side list view), tags, and descriptive titles to be quite useful for my research needs. After you experiment a bit more with these, let us know your specific use case, and perhaps we can give you more detailed advice. For more on configuring the side list view, see this post.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=106

 

I've also got some information on how I organize my account for research.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=367

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You can also create quick home pages of links to notes, which are then instant, rather than waiting for a search, and are a snapshot of your content in time (useful to academics).

 

Any time you have a selection of notes, drag that selection into a note to have a nice list of note links created for you (in a desktop client, not on mobile AFAIK).

 

I got this tip from listening to Phil on one of the Evernote podcasts - he uses it in combination with reminders to have quick home pages at the top of notebooks.

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You can also create quick home pages of links to notes, which are then instant, rather than waiting for a search, and are a snapshot of your content in time (useful to academics).

 

Any time you have a selection of notes, drag that selection into a note to have a nice list of note links created for you (in a desktop client, not on mobile AFAIK).

 

I got this tip from listening to Phil on one of the Evernote podcasts - he uses it in combination with reminders to have quick home pages at the top of notebooks.

The new table of contents feature is also handy. Here is a short video clip of how to do it, along with other videos.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=488

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Hi Pierre,

 

Much good advice here.  To help my students use Evernote academically, I have assembled some webpages that might be useful to help you think about your own strategies.

 

 

I look forward to reading others' ideas along these lines. 

 

Jay F. 

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I'm teaching at a middle school and have used Evernote for two years as a unit guide to post the units online.  I want to get to using Evernote for research with students.  We should probably a) place on our computers here at school (yes?) and B) give the students the option of downloading for home use (app or on computer - but with parent permission).  

 

Any advice for collecting and annotating for 7th graders?  You are all talking higher level academia.  

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I'm teaching at a middle school and have used Evernote for two years as a unit guide to post the units online.  I want to get to using Evernote for research with students.  We should probably a) place on our computers here at school (yes?) and B) give the students the option of downloading for home use (app or on computer - but with parent permission).  

 

Any advice for collecting and annotating for 7th graders?  You are all talking higher level academia.  

You'd want to consider a business account first of all. 

If you are unable to install software, you can always use evernote from the web. This goes for home use as well. Any web browser will work. 

 

Unfortunately I only have experience with higher ed, and can offer nothing useful for grade school! I'm sure there are lots of others who might have ideas aroun dhere though. 

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I'm teaching at a middle school and have used Evernote for two years as a unit guide to post the units online.  I want to get to using Evernote for research with students.  We should probably a) place on our computers here at school (yes?) and B) give the students the option of downloading for home use (app or on computer - but with parent permission).  

 

Any advice for collecting and annotating for 7th graders?  You are all talking higher level academia.

In general, I avoid having students put their work into Evernote, and I never place comments on their work into my account either, unless it is into a local notebook (never synced to the cloud). FERPA is important to keep in mind, and your students are also minors, so you need consent to use it (not only for downloading). We have an obligation to secure student data (usually a stricter standard than the students have for their own data) and Evernote simply doesn't have the ability to do that (neither do most other note-taking services, email services, etc.). Here is some information for teachers from Evernote:

http://evernote.com/teachers/get_started/faq/

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You'd want to consider a business account first of all. 

 

Can you please explain why, in detail? I don't think a school is likely to be able to afford one, unless there's an academic discount.

 

Are you thinking of the overview and administrative features?

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Thinking about the middle-schoolers, I wonder if a wiki-like approach would be helpful.

 

As I said earlier, it's easy to have pages link to other pages in Evernote.

 

Does it make sense to have "competing editors" where students are tasked with building up pages of links, with some small excepts, to other notes? That would probably be helped by keeping the source notes relatively small - I am thinking a bit of a newspaper approach here but comparing it to Wikipedia might work for them.

 

I think it would be an important lesson that you can build up independent sets of citations that link to material, rather than outright copying. It's exercising judgement and creativity in assembling a collection of facts and linking them.

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You'd want to consider a business account first of all. 

 

Can you please explain why, in detail? I don't think a school is likely to be able to afford one, unless there's an academic discount.

 

Are you thinking of the overview and administrative features?

 

The reason I suggested this was 

1) Because it increases the number of shared notebooks you can have, and this might be important depending on how many students you have. Premium members can only create 250 shared notebooks with edit privileges. Business accounts have much higher. 

2) Because if they are adding any content on a regular basis, it may possible, perhaps only for the teacher but also for students, to begin to approach the 60mb/1gb limit. A business account would overcome this.

 

Those are really the only reason I was thinking of. The original poster regarding 7th graders didn't indicate any of the ways they would use it, so I I was thinking about the most use-intensive scenario. 

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The reason I suggested this was 

 

You'd want to consider a business account first of all. 

 

Can you please explain why, in detail? I don't think a school is likely to be able to afford one, unless there's an academic discount.

 

Are you thinking of the overview and administrative features?

 

"1) Because it increases the number of shared notebooks you can have, and this might be important depending on how many students you have. Premium members can only create 250 shared notebooks with edit privileges. Business accounts have much higher. 

2) Because if they are adding any content on a regular basis, it may possible, perhaps only for the teacher but also for students, to begin to approach the 60mb/1gb limit. A business account would overcome this.

 

Those are really the only reason I was thinking of. The original poster regarding 7th graders didn't indicate any of the ways they would use it, so I I was thinking about the most use-intensive scenario." 

 

We have iPads, but I'm thinking to use the computers here at school to collect and save our research notes.  Yes, I want to protect the kids' privacy as well teach them the BEST way, at this time of their lives, to utilize Evernote as a technology tool.

 

So I need to know if there is an academic account that they can log in as rather than their own?  If they choose to use their own, this would be brought to the attention of parents prior to their use at home.  

 

I do appreciate the discussion and help here, everyone.  Thanks!   :)

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You can also create quick home pages of links to notes, which are then instant, rather than waiting for a search, and are a snapshot of your content in time (useful to academics).

 

Any time you have a selection of notes, drag that selection into a note to have a nice list of note links created for you (in a desktop client, not on mobile AFAIK).

 

I got this tip from listening to Phil on one of the Evernote podcasts - he uses it in combination with reminders to have quick home pages at the top of notebooks.

Andy,

 

Can you explain this down one level as I'm not quite clear.  Also, is the podcast archived anywhere?  

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The reason I suggested this was

You'd want to consider a business account first of all.

Can you please explain why, in detail? I don't think a school is likely to be able to afford one, unless there's an academic discount.

Are you thinking of the overview and administrative features?

"1) Because it increases the number of shared notebooks you can have, and this might be important depending on how many students you have. Premium members can only create 250 shared notebooks with edit privileges. Business accounts have much higher.

2) Because if they are adding any content on a regular basis, it may possible, perhaps only for the teacher but also for students, to begin to approach the 60mb/1gb limit. A business account would overcome this.

Those are really the only reason I was thinking of. The original poster regarding 7th graders didn't indicate any of the ways they would use it, so I I was thinking about the most use-intensive scenario."

We have iPads, but I'm thinking to use the computers here at school to collect and save our research notes. Yes, I want to protect the kids' privacy as well teach them the BEST way, at this time of their lives, to utilize Evernote as a technology tool.

So I need to know if there is an academic account that they can log in as rather than their own? If they choose to use their own, this would be brought to the attention of parents prior to their use at home.

I do appreciate the discussion and help here, everyone. Thanks! :)

There's no such thing as an academic account, or a sort of "group account". Each student would need their own account, and you'd have to share notebooks with each student in whatever scheme made sense (one notebook per student, for example. Or some other way of doing this).

A collective account would pose an issue with accountability. You would have no way of knowing which student posted the note with foul language, or which student went and delete a bunch of notes, and so on.

iPads pose an issue too, as each student would need to always be using the same ipad, or each student would always have to log out after each use so the next person who gets ahold of that ipad doesn't have access to the previous student's account.

For use on computers, the web interface is a sure bet, since it doesn't store data on the local disk, and because if your computers automatically clear cookies when the browser is closed (probably wise on a publically shared computer), there'd be no issue with other users having access.

If each student has their own computer account (e.g., their own windows user or Mac user account), installing the app on the system may be possible depending on how they are administered.

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You can also create quick home pages of links to notes, which are then instant, rather than waiting for a search, and are a snapshot of your content in time (useful to academics).

 

Any time you have a selection of notes, drag that selection into a note to have a nice list of note links created for you (in a desktop client, not on mobile AFAIK).

 

I got this tip from listening to Phil on one of the Evernote podcasts - he uses it in combination with reminders to have quick home pages at the top of notebooks.

Andy,

 

Can you explain this down one level as I'm not quite clear.  Also, is the podcast archived anywhere?  

 

 

I think it was this "Memory Lane" podcast.

 

Phil was talking about the combination of two features:

  1. Reminders are not just for setting timed reminders. They are also a quick way to get a note to be "pinned" to the top of that notebook. So, if you want to add a note and ensure it stays pinned, even just a temporary note for a meeting, just add a reminder to it.
  2. Selecting a number of notes in the list view and dragging them into the content of another note creates a list of links in the destination.

Step 2 has also been made more automatic but I just tested and found it is only a Mac feature!

 

In the current Mac client, if you select a few notes, there's a bunch of buttons appears in the content area with choices:

  • Email
  • Merge
  • Save Attachments
  • Create Table of Contents Note
  • Start Presentation
  • Move to notebook...

The current Windows client lacks the "Create Table of Contents Note" and "Start Presentation" options. I tried doing the drag technique and that didn't work, but I have a workaround that may be simpler to teach.

 

On Windows (or Mac):

  1. Select the range of notes you want in the List or Snippet views
  2. Either right-click or choose from the top Note menu "Copy Note Links"
  3. Go to the note where you want the table of contents, or create a new note.
  4. Paste

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