The Notecard System: How the notecard system helped me organise for my research paper

I always found getting my ideas across quite tricky, so much so that a teacher of mine suggested that I write down my thoughts on notecards as a way to organise my ideas to help express myself better.

The writing process was something that I had to work extremely hard on. I could never focus my thoughts; I used to write all my scrambled ideas on a subject down and hoped for the best.

It wasn’t until I came across the notecard system (essentially the same thing my teacher suggested to do) after reading an article by Ryan Holiday did I understand how to perfect what I was doing. This system helped me organise for my research paper and to getting me to get a 1:1.

The idea of the notecard system is when you read something or come across a quote you write them down on an index card, and then you file them under a category. For example, before I started using the notecard system, I used to write quotes under themes in my quotebook (a notebook with quotes). So if it were a quote on love, I would write down the passage and put it under the section theme love quotes.

Template idea.

The notecard system is the same idea, but you have the notecards in a box rather than a notebook, which I found to be much easier and more convenient.

How the system works for me and my research paper or for writing a book? other famous people had their own notecard system

When reading an article or a paper, mark or highlight important bits, use post-it flags for the book. If it is an online journal, you can highlight the essential bits from the PDF or if you have to print off the journal mark the important bits accordingly.

You then transfer over the quotes and ideas from the research you have read to your index cards. What is different here is that you put each quote or important information under the chapter that you want to use them in.

For example, from my research paper:

Chapter section: LITERATURE REVIEW

Subheading: Climate Change: Wrestling for definitional control

Subheading: Media’s role in shaping climate change

Subheading: How Irish media framed climate change

And it goes on with each chapter or subheading within the chapter; I have quotes and the critical research already filed through my notecard system.

My thoughts and ideas are structured, and it works for me I hope it works for you too.

The key takeaway of the notecard system is to do it consistently, when you read something interesting, take a note of it and then transfer it over to your index cards.

Categories: Rob's notes

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