# How I Take Notes of Papers

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This is work in progress. I still don't have a clear process on how to take good notes on papers that can be used in the long term.

From marginalia to a permanent note, this is normally the strategy I try to follow when reading papers or books:

• The first set of happens on paper, in the margins of whatever I read. Sometimes notes take the form of underlining, not of actual writing.
• Underlining allows me to quickly skim through the text to find the bits that were more interesting to remember.
• Notes on the margins are normally pointers to things that are not written. For example, if something does not make sense I would mark it with a  ?  , if something is a conclusion, I would mark it with a  !  .
• I also try to draw on figures to make the link between the explanation and the data. Or if there's anything interesting not mentioned in the text, etc.
• It is important to always remember that what is written in the margins of a paper is meant to be forgotten rather quickly. If I grab the same article a month later, most likely I will not remember why I underlined what I underlined, etc.
• The real work starts by creating notes in my digital garden that summarize the findings of the paper. I try to keep notes concept-oriented, which means that each conclusion gets its own note.
• I started struggling with two papers sharing the same observation, perhaps following different experimental approaches, or with different methodologies. To avoid this, I started slowly migrating to the idea of literature notes that are based on a single work, and then I can directly link to them from concept-summarizing notes.
• Note : This is, for the moment, a highly experimental approach that may not work even for me.
• I also take care of creating links to the techniques employed, because it is useful to get an overview of in which kind of works each technique is used.
• Once I am done, I archive the paper in a folder indexed by the last author in case I need to retrieve it.

## Technical Remarks

I do like reading on paper. I haven't found anything that remotely resembles the experience of underlining and taking notes directly next to the text. Perhaps tablets with Styluses allow to do this?

For digital notes, I use Obsidian and Zettlr (see: essays/choosing between zettlr and obsidian ). All the references are stored in Zotero and I access them through a unique index, like: [ ].