I have read in multiple places that it is a good practice as an academic to keep a research journal. For example, Marie desJardins' paper How to Succeed in Graduate School: A Guide for Students and Advisors says:
Keeping a journal of your research activities and ideas is very useful. Write down speculations, interesting problems, possible solutions, random ideas, references to look up, notes on papers you've read, outlines of papers to write, and interesting quotes. Read back through it periodically.
My first attempt was to write my ideas in a log book. I soon gave that up because the book would not always be with me when I wanted to write something in it, and because I knew eventually I would lose it and not be able to retrieve information from it.
My current approach is to write a huge LaTeX file which I store in the cloud.
In it, I chronicle my daily thoughts about my research project, to take notes of what is discussed in meetings with my adviser.
However, I simply feel overwhelmed by the volume of writing and the amount of repetition that I find in my research journal.
I also have other files which serve similar purposes.
For example, I have a file called
results.pdf where I write out all my theorems and propositions and their proofs.
- What have you tried and how has a research journal been of benefit to you?
- Do you do all your "rough work" in a research journal, so that you can refer to it later?
- What system do you use as your research journal?
- Do you log all your experimental results into a chronologically organized research notebook? (Since I am not from a biology/chemistry/experimental background, I am curious as to how people who do lots of experiments manage to organize their results and ideas.)