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Native clients: Mac, Windows, Chrome OS, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm, Windows Phone, Web
Evernote is the hub of my research project, and has been from the beginning. It is, at it’s core, a note taking app. But beyond simple rich text, it can also store all kinds of files within notes. Pictures and PDFs can be text searched, with words and characters identified by excellent server side optical character recognition. Voice notes can be created at the touch of a button. Word files and PowerPoints can even be stored if, for some reason, Dropbox isn’t also a major part of your life.
The first note I created related to my research project was a record of my first discussed with my supervisor about the project, way back in October. Since then, every research meeting I’ve had had been recoded in Evernote. My supervisor is a very visual learner, so he likes to draw diagrams on flip chats and whiteboards. A quick photo with my iPhone and I can keep a record of those in the note as well.
Next, when it came to actually consenting and interviewing patients, I kept all my records in Evernote. As ever, no confidential patient info went into the cloud, just their study number. All the details about what an individual consented to, whether they were interviewed and when, what doctor they saw, all just a couple of clicks away. Of course, this information was being generated continuously, which I why I had my iPad with me when I was speaking to patients. I updated details as I went along, keeping all kinds of useful information in the same place.
I was also using Evernote to keep my research diary. Everyday I would tap out a few lines, keeping a record of any problems or concerns, and how I was going to address them. The best thing about keeping everything digitally is it was almost impossible to loose information. If I had thought it, chances are I made a note of it, in which case my tagging system or a simple search would lead me instantly to it. No flicking though paper diaries or endless loose sheets of paper looking for the result jotted down on the corner of a random page. (This coming from the king of “I know I wrote it down somewhere.”)
Finally, now I’m writing my actually honest-to-God thesis, Evernote is once again proving itself invaluable. Each section (Introduction, Methods, Results, etc) is a separate note. There is no complicated formatting for me to fiddle about with. No margins thank goodness. Margins are the bane of my life. Well – margins, tabs, indents – the whole alignment business really gets to me. So thankfully there’s none of that. I just use bold for headings and that’s it. I plan to write and edit the whole thing in Evernote before moving to a Word document at the very last minute. I would be using Apple’s Pages software (much more user friendly handing of margins) but, as academics the world over have been complaining for years, it doesn’t have referencing support internally (without super expensive plugins), and Mendeley haven’t made a referencing tool for it either. So I’m stuck with Word, but thankfully only for a short period.
Evernote’s real strength is its ubiquity. As you can see from the list of native clints at the top of the page, it really is everywhere, and you can do almost everything on an iOS device that you can on a desktop (there is some stuff with tables that isn’t on mobile, but that’s the only thing that I was affected by). I don’t carry my laptop around with me, if I can’t do it on my iPad then I’m not interested. Evernote gives me that flexibility and that’s why it’s become such an indispensable tool.