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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Library Workshops: Managing Your Research and Staying Organized for First-Year Students

A guide to current and past workshops offered by the Loyola Libraries.

Class Slides and Handouts

Download slides and handouts from the Managing Your Research Workshop.

Contact the Libraries

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Contact Info
Cudahy/IC Reference
(773) 508-2654
Lewis Reference
(312) 915-6631

Taking Notes

What information can you use to take effective notes?

  • What are the main ideas in the article?
  • Do the ideas in the article relate back to any of the ideas in your research topic?
  • What are some of the key points/cool things that the article says? And remember to write down basic citation information, like page number and author name, for each bit of information - this will help you later on when you begin citing things in your research paper.
  • How can you use this article in your paper? Does it provide evidence to a point you want to make?

How do you find the main idea?

A great place to start with this is the article’s abstract. An abstract is a brief summary of the article, and you can often find keywords and main ideas here.

Some articles also have subject terms associated with them, and you can use these to pinpoint keywords and main ideas as well.

Look for thesis statements or paragraphs, often at the beginning and end of the article, that summarize the arguments being made.

Image courtesy Neil Conway, via Flickr and the Creative Commons

Organizational Tools

There are a lot of tools out there to help you keep your sources organized and under control.

Storage Tools

  • Evernote-- A suite of tools (including apps, a desktop application, and a web service) designed for note-taking and archiving. Evernote lets you clip PDFs and web pages, and you can sync content across devices.
  • Dropbox -- A free cloud storage service that lets you share and access your videos, docs, photos, etc. from various devices.
  • Google Drive -- Store, collaborate, and work on documents, presenations, and spreadsheets.

Citation Management

  • Zotero -- A free research tool that lets your collect, organize, share, and cite your resources.
  • RefWorks -- is a citation management software program, paid for by the Loyola University Libraries. RefWorks collects, stores and organizes citations from books, articles, web sites and other sources. It automatically converts citations into properly formatted bibliographies. A multitude of citation styles are offered including MLA, APA and Chicago Style. Citations can be exported automatically from many Loyola databases.
  • Mendeley -- A free reference manager and research tool that lets you organize your sources, create bibliographies, and collaborate with other researchers.
  • EasyBib -- Free automatic citation and bibliography generator.

Mind Mapping

  • -- Free online brainstorming and mind mapping tool
  • Mind42 - Another free online mind mapping tool.
  • XMind - Mind mapping software that lets you create a variety of different maps.
  • Scriblink -- A free online whiteboard.

Note Taking

  • Squareleaf -- Create virtual sticky notes and arrange your notes and lists however you like.
  • Simplenote -- An online note-taking application.
  • MS One Note -- A Microsoft Office add-on (paid) where you can take notes, embed files, and annotate documents.

Managing the web

  • Scribble -- An online tool where you can save research, clip web pages, take notes, and annotate web pages. They recently launched a student edition, which you can sign up for if you have a .edu email address.
  • Scrapbook -- A Firefox extension which helps you to save Web pages and easily manage collections.
  • Feedly -- A free RSS service where you can follow your favorite blogs, podcasts, etc. in one place. You can also tag, save, and organize articles within Feedly.

Organization tools specifically for students

  • Track Class - A free online application that helps you keep track of your school work. Track Class sends you reminders, lets you schedule assignments, and also functions as a note-taking tool.
  • Outliner -- An iPad and iPhone app that helps you take organized notes.


  • Essay Map -- A free online tool that walks you through the process of outlining an essay. You can also print out a blank map and kick it old school with a pen and paper if you want.


  • Podio -- Coordinate tasks, share updates, and share files in real-time.


  • Delicious -- A service where you can organize and share your web links
  • TagSifter -- A Firefox add-on that lets you tag your bookmarks.

To-do lists

Organizing Your Sources

You organize your sources and use them to form an argument in a process known as source synthesis.

Source synthesis is an iterative process too. And the process of pulling all your sources together into an argument involves doing the following things: