One of the tricky aspects of writing a thesis is that you have to bring together a huge amount of information in a way that no-one has done before. This may involve learning about writing as you write it, incorporating comments from Supervisors, keeping track of your own learning and reflections as you are writing as well as weaving together your empirical research with a body of a literature. It’s a lot to do!
In the social sciences and qualitative research, keeping a research journal or memo is pretty standard practice. There are many different ways of doing this (word documents, notebooks, blogs) and for many different purposes. See here and here and here.
In this blog post- I plan to show you how to maximise Scrivener’s Project Notes and Document Notes features to keep on top of your thesis flow.
Firstly, both Project Notes and Documents are available via the Inspector Window. Think of them as the little notepad that you might keep next to your computer whilst working – a place to jot down thoughts, references, ideas you might have about your main body of text. But they can also do much more! Lets open up Inspector and have a look where they are:
Project & Document Notes appear on the bottom right hand side of the Inspector Pane.
Notice the little up/down arrows? This allows you to toggle between Project Notes and Document Notes. These two features work in slightly different ways –
Project Notes are the universal notes available from within any part of your Scrivener Project (i.e. thesis). You can access them via this toggle button regardless of what section you are working on.
Document Notes are linked to that specific piece of text that you are working on. If you decide to delete the text “chunk” – then the associated Document notes will be deleted also.
Lets turn to how to use these features most efficiently in Scrivener
As these are universal, you should only keep notes here that are relevant to ENTIRE thesis. You can access Project Notes 2 ways
Option 1: Chose Project Tab – > Project Notes – a pop up window will appear
Option 2: Chose Project Notes from within the Inspector. Notes will be typed into the box on bottom RH side
You can organise Project Notes as one long running document OR you can add multiple smaller documents. Project Notes are great for reflection, leaving memos to yourself about what you are working on or plan to work on next, questions that arise during your thesis writing etc. Just remember that they are universal notes.
Document Notes: Document notes are attached to the individual section of text that you are working on. I use Document Notes in a few main ways
- to write down notes to myself as to how to write that particular section (for example, what the Discussion Chapter should include). Usually this is my notes from various “How to Write Your Thesis Books”
- to remind myself of bits I might want to include later or to store bits I want to temporarily remove but I’m not 100% sure if they might come back into that section of text
- to keep my Supervisors broad comments in
Here is an example of my notes section from the Introduction of my thesis. I think the current intro is pretty boring and I’ve made a note to come back and amend it.
Can I export my Notes? Yes – you can include them in the compile process- either with or without the associated text
So- I hope that helps. If you have a question- please ask via comments.