There are many different ways to keep your information in order. It is important to find a way that works for you, and make it part of your routine.

The three key steps are to:

  • organise your files
  • keep track of your research
  • back up your work.

Organising your files

Keep your assignment files well organised in folders on your computer- for example a folder for each unit you study, with further folders for assignments and lecture slides. If you like to print your information, take the same approach by making a different folder for each of your units.

Tracking your research and reading

  • Use bookmarks in your browser, use social bookmarking tools such as Delicious or use online note taking freeware - see 4.4 Annotate and note take.
  • Email database results to yourself. Most databases give you the ability to flag, check or save articles you like as you browse your results. You can then email them to your address by visiting a link - often called "my saved items" or "my research".
  • Turn on your borrowing history in My loans and holds, so that you're able to view your past library loans.

Backing up files

Organising your files is not enough. While losing an assignment due to the failure of electronic equipment can be devastating, it is not an acceptable excuse: it is up to you to make sure you information is backed up. There are two main strategies:

  • physical strategies - using hardware to back up your work. Besides the copy of your work on your computer or laptop, you should also have a copy on a USB drive or an external hard drive. If using an external hard drive, you can schedule automatic syncs between your devices. For more information, see synchronisation on Wikipedia
  • online strategies - using the web to back up your work. Options include email (sending file attachments to your own address) or free online services such as Dropbox, where you can create an account and store your documents online.

To avoid confusion between saved versions, make sure you either replace old drafts or rename your drafts to include the date.

Further information

Postgraduate students may wish to use Endnote, a program for collecting, managing and referencing your information sources. For more information, see Managing your references.