Any research project is going to involve a literature search: reading
through a bunch of papers that might be relevant to your topic in
order to get a sense of what the field already knows. Now, maybe
there's some magic technique for picking out the information that
matters, passing over the rest, and writing out a single, coherent
story in one pass through all the papers you can find. If that
technique exists, I have no idea what it is.
So when every paper brings up ten new questions and twenty papers to
start answering them, I need a system to keep my notes organized. I
need notes that let me jump back and forth between papers without
losing my place, draw links between papers, and store lists of
citations to come back to. Here's how I do it.