I am starting to work on my research that will eventually play a part in my dissertation.  Specifically I am reading books on relevant topics.  I am trying to come up with the most efficient way of taking notes.

I remember in high school we were taught to take notes on 3×5 cards.  I didn’t do it then, but with this much LARGER project I’m starting to see the point.  I need to do something.

So I am currently trying an experiment in technology-assisted note taking.  Specifically I am using a Sony ICD-UX70R 1GB Digital Voice Recorder to take notes on the fly as I read.  Then I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred to transcribe those notes.

My results so far are mixed.  It is very dependent on minimizing background noise, so playing dogs causes a problem.  I find that after it transcribes each set of notes I need to go back and listen to the recording so that I can touch up the text.  Sometimes a lot.  (That would be better if I could remember to speak more slowly and say things like “Period” and “Comma” at the right places.)

However fixing them takes far less time than typing as I go would have taken.  I am hoping that as I get better the notes will require less editing.

The theory behind this is that if I can distill books and arguments down to 3-5 pages in word it will be easier for me to search and find things later.  That’s the theory anyway.  Stay tuned for whether it actually works.

In the meantime, if you have a note taking system that worked for a huge project like this, tell me about it in the comments.  I’d love to get a feel for some alternatives.