27 Years of Success!

Tel: 0161 819 9922

Organizing Your Research

December 4th, 2015

Sue-Wilkes-now-blogWhether you are researching a non-fiction article or a full-length book, it pays to be meticulous about your research.

If you are making notes from a reference book, and have found a useful fact, carefully write down the name of the page number, author, book, date published, edition, and publisher. This is so you can easily find it if you need to refer to it again. If you prefer to type up your research as you are going along, then type the whole reference in brackets (or whatever suits you best) so you have a record of it – you can always edit it out later if needed.

Depending on your book publisher, you may have to provide source references for each chapter, and your life will be made much easier if you have noted them down throughout the writing process.

Fiction authors will not need to provide source references, of course, but they too will find it useful to keep careful notes of their research.

If you visit an archive to consult some original documents, you should always note down the catalogue reference number and page number if appropriate. The same applies to documents on microfilm. There is nothing more infuriating than to have to travel back to an archive or library to recheck something and not knowing where you found your elusive fact, and having to wade through all the documents (or microfilm) again. And if you want to quote from an archival document, you should always get written permission from the archive first in case there are any copyright issues.

However you organize your research notes – whether on paper or on your computer – ensure that you know where to find them again easily. It goes without saying that you should back up your writing work on the computer to a pen drive (or the Cloud if you have that facility) on a daily basis. Another way of making an instant ‘backup’ of a document is to email it to yourself, either as an attachment or pasted into the email. I also like to make regular back-ups on a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM, too, as electronic devices have a nasty habit of expiring without warning.

This may seem like a lot of extra work – but trust me, it will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Sue Wilkes is the author of eight books: Regency Spies (Pen & Sword, 2015), A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England (Pen & Sword, 2014), Tracing Your Ancestors’ Childhood (Pen & Sword, 2013), Tracing Your Lancashire Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2012), The Children History Forgot (Robert Hale, 2011), Tracing Your Canal Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2011), Regency Cheshire (Robert Hale, 2009) and Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives: The Industrial Revolution in Lancashire (History Press, 2008).

Sue is a member of the Society of Authors and has also broadcast on local radio.

She works from home, and writes regularly for magazines in the UK and USA. Sue has a friendly gerbil for company.

Visit Sue’s blogs at:



Comments Off on Organizing Your Research

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.

About The Author: Diana Nadin

Blog Home

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

Bookmark and Share