Keep a research journal
Your journal can become an instrument for your personal development and learning.
Keep a personal journal to document your increasing understanding of the field, help retain your focus and support yourself through the process.
You can use your journal to:
A journal can take different forms, and it is up to you to decide how extensive you'd like your journal to be.
For example, a journal can be:
A journal can be private, only seen and used by you, or it can be interactive in the form of a blog for dialogue with your supervisors or peers. You may well choose both.
However extensive and inclusive you choose to make your journal, writing a journal throughout your candidature can have a number of benefits.
Used as a reflective tool and notebook, the journal is a valuable friend and learning aid. Remember, through reflection, you gain new understandings.
It is a good idea to keep the journal with you at all times, next to your bed, as you commute, on your desk. It will then become your constant companion.
Document spontaneous ideas and thoughts, quick reading notes, impressions, thoughts, data interpretation, the research process, research accomplishments, and reflections on everything related to your research.
Often some enlightened thought, an idea will pop into your mind - this may be a critical insight that can be caught or lost.
Write it down! You can think about it later. Understanding can occur suddenly and at times when you may not be actively focussing on your studies.
Recording your research process can be very useful for later reference when the details of time, place and your immediate impressions may have faded. If you are undertaking qualitative research, your journal can document your reflections and that can become a part of the research.
Your journal can also be a place to do freewriting or the daily writing task that you set yourself. It can be accessible when your work space is not!
A research student's journal
Here, as an example, is part of a research journal that was kept bya PhD student in the Faculty of Education through the course of her candidature. The excerpts below are drawn from two different stages - February and August of one year. When this student was writing her thesis she looked at her journal for information and some of her reflections. She became aware that much of the material that she had spontaneously scribbled a long time before, was actually perceptive and illuminating. She ultimately included some of the writings from her journal in her thesis.
Click to view the Journal
Download a printable version of this page.
Problems? Questions? Comments? Please provide us feedback.
Need help? Library frequently asked questions and online inquiries: current students/staff | public users, online chat, or phone +61 3 9905 5054