Little note cards allowed us to do four things that are very difficult to do inside of a word processing program.
They allow you to literally see the possibilities for grouping and arranging the concepts in a document. I started researching my dissertation this way, and gave up after I reached the 500 card.
A stack of notes on 8.5×11 paper restricts our vision, forces us into the weeds, and denies us the big picture. If word processing programs are so limiting, what should we do – return to index cards? Fortunately, there are several software programs that mimic the features of the index carding system while offering the data processing power necessary for research today.
All of them allow you to sort your research any number of ways. Here are three that I’m familiar with and like: Writer’s Blocks is a paid software program that visually mimics the index card system with “blocks” of text on the screen that can be arranged in rows and columns as you work.
Evernote (my personal favorite) is fully integrated with the internet so you can download web pages, collaborate with others, and access your account across all devices.