How to Keep and Use a Research Log

Created for TESC students by Liza Rognas, Reference Librarian/ Historian

Fall 2003


Research in any topic, especially advanced-level research, quickly becomes complicated by the sheer volume of information available and consulted. Information comes to you through books, archival material, libraries, web pages, electronic databases, interviews, and various media. That’s the short list. Many of these resources are also located in several different places. A research log will help you keep track of the what, where, when, and even, the how of your research process. It will prevent you from repeating searches and will also help you keep track of the language and jargon unique to the disciplines you most often search. Keeping a log engages your physical, mental, intuitive and intellectual processes. It also offers you a ritual—a way in which research is performed mentally and physically. In this sense, the log becomes more than your memory, it becomes a part of the way in which you seek.


The Log:  Ideally you should make or buy a notebook that will be used exclusively as your research log. Some also use a laptop computer and a word processor. If paper, always write your name and contact info on the log so that you’ll get it back if you leave it somewhere.


The Entries: No matter your individual style, a good log will contain certain key elements, including, time, date, place, specific data information, a full bibliographic citation and notes.


Sample Log Entries:


10/17/02            TESC Library  Catalog                                   10:25 am IN


Keyword  “Washington State Salmon”            limit 1990-2002            50 entries post 1990


Drew, David E.  Fishing and Treaty Rights in the West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). Good resource. Find more by this guy. Look up the studies in his bibliography.


Meyer, Susan E., Petersen Paul M. Earning and Learning: How Schools Matter (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institute Press, 1999) Ch.6 Erik Hanushek “Effects of the Math and Math-related Courses in High School.”  ** Chapter not worth it.

Subjects: Salmon—Washington State History—United States




Keyword “Native American History”

Ordered from UW—Harmon, Alexandra. Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities Around Puget Sound (Berkely: University of California Press, 1998) Check back in 3 days.

                                                                                                1:15 pm OUT


10/20/02            TESC Library                                                            3:15pm IN

Ref. Librarian  Sarah Pedersen            867-6647 (Thurs. Nights)

Use American History and Life and Social Science databases.

Library Catalog pg--References & Journals—Social Science

---Here you’d list the articles you find on the databases--


                                                                                                            6:30pm OUT


10/25/02            Interviews and sources                                               3:30pm


Interview with Via Meade, Local Artist(13 years).

360-866-1234 (hm)  360-923-1555 (wk). Tuesdays at noon good time to call.

Photocopies of mock-ups for her public art. Check out webpage gallery Via made.

Write THANK YOU note!!  Done 10/28


** follow up in January after break.


Taped interview. See questions and notes in folder. Also contact Beth Biser in Seattle.

206-743-2347. She served on Arts Commission WA State. Also gives conference presentations. Get copy of her last paper from conference in Seattle, 1998.                                                                                                                                                                           6:15 Done!!