Manage your research, notes and academic references all in one place with Notion
Being an avid researcher with several scientific conference publications, a journal article and numerous Medium articles, I am often faced with mountains of scientific papers to read and review. Even though many researchers use Mendeley, Zotero and other research paper managers, these platforms are mainly aimed at keeping a list of articles, papers and book chapters. They have limited customisation options and note-taking abilities, which is one of the big benefits of Notion.
What is Notion?
If you have not come across Notion before, it is a versatile multi-platform all-in-one workspace that allows you to manage notes, projects, tasks, wikis, information and much more.
The Notion system is very flexible, allowing you to easily design your workspaces in a way that works for you rather than you being forced into a specific system.
The best part? It’s free to use with unlimited pages and blocks across multiple devices.
Notion for Academic Research
During my years as a masters student I used a number of systems and page setups for storing course notes, literature notes and early thesis drafts. At this time I was relatively new to Notion and didn’t understand it’s power. After a few years I am now writing journal level publications and managing content for various social media channels including my YouTube channel and Medium channel through the Notion app.
With a greater knowledge of how Notion works, I decided to bring together my isolated systems into a single dashboard. This provides me with a way to manage my research projects and literature easily.
I currently use Notion for academic research to:
- Create literature summaries and annotated bibliographies of scientific papers
- Plan and outline research projects
- Track the reading status and metadata of articles
- Keep track of how interesting and useful articles are
- Store information about authors
- Keep track of conferences and submission deadlines
- Store figures and tables captured from the literature
The Academic Research Hub
The following sections cover a few of the key areas within the Notion Academic Research Hub. You can grab your own copy of the dashboard from the Gumroad link below
Managing Research Projects
The research project manager section allows you to store related meta-data, as well as keep track of any deadlines that may be applicable to the project.
It also takes advantage of the relational database feature of Notion to allow related articles, notes and figures.
The remainder of the project uses a predesigned template to capture notes, related articles and the different sections of a research article. These sections can be expanded and used to write your article sections.
Manage References and Literature Notes with Notion
The references database is used to store all the relevant meta-data associated with an article. One of the nice features of Notion databases is that you can create properties of different types with relative ease, including links to other databases.
For references in this Notion dashboard, the meta-data (properties) includes:
- The topics the research paper covers
- Date of publication
- Number of times a research article has been citied (how popular is it)
Additionally, you can also mark whether an article is interesting and relevant to your research project. This allows you to have an idea of the article’s value to your work.
If there are other properties you want to track for a paper, you can easily add your own.
The remainder of the reference page contains sections for you to write your key ideas and findings from reading the article. Again, this is using a pre-designed template.
After filling in each of the sections, you should be able to craft your own version of an annotated bibliography or summary of the paper.
Once you have written your summary, you can then copy it into the meta-data section. This allows you to quickly understand what the paper is about by just glancing at it on the main dashboard screen.
Another great feature of Notion, is the ability to turn a database into a Kanban board. This allows you to easily move items within the database between different tags. In this template, I have created a view for Reading Status. This allows you to keep track of where you are with your literature.
Capture Figures and Tables
The Notion gallery database view allows you to quickly scan your captured images and tables for that item you are looking for. I find this way much easier to find the figure I am looking for rather than trying to remember the name of the author, the title of figure or the paper it came from.
Each figure is linked back to the original source and to any research projects that you may be working on.
This database could easily be expanded to include tags and other relevant meta-data. Or you can setup filters to filter for certain properties or tags depending on the image content.
Keep Track of Your Favourite Authors
The authors database allows you to keep a list of all authors that you have stored within your literature database. This brings the benefit of finding other papers by the same author, and storing contact details should you need to get in touch with them.
Never Miss a Conference Deadline
The conferences section of the dashboard allows you to keep track of when conferences and when abstracts, manuscripts and presentations need to be submitted by.
As you can see, Notion is a very flexible platform, that allows you to design your own workspace for working with scientific literature. To facilitate my own research needs, the Notion Academic Research Hub was created. This not only will help manage research projects, but also the research literature all within the one place. This can help save time from switching between different applications and helps improve the flow of thought when preparing research articles.
You can grab your own copy of the Notion Academic Research Hub, for a 30% discount, from here.