At our first digital tools Bootcamp, I shared some of the program’s functions and how I use it to organize my dissertation research. The audience had a few people who already used Evernote and/or DEVONThink, so we had a great exchange about what these programs are useful for as well as their limitations.
The primary advantage to DEVONThink is that you can compile, view, tag, organize and search any kind of document in one “database.” So, if you have project with photographs of archival documents, video, articles clipped from the web, audio files, pfds, word documents—anything—it can be imported into your database. You can also create annotations or notes that attach to files, or create a new file (a text document) within DEVONThink. Like Evernote (though in my opinion, not as seamlessly or intuitively), you can clip things from the web as you surf. DEVONThink also has some “intelligent” functions that help you find related terms and files.
After a summer research trip to archives in Alaska, I had tens of thousands of photographs and no manageable way to deal with them. I imported them all to DEVONThink, renamed the files, merged files that were of a single source, and began the process of organizing them in a way that makes sense for my project. I take notes on sources within DEVONThink, and even make citations for each source as I go.
In the discussion, we talked about the tension between being able to amass material and being able to meaningfully navigate it. People asked specific questions about how to do things, and we compared they ways we use the program. From what people shared, it seems DEVONThink is pretty adaptable. You can customize it to fit the needs of your sources, discipline, and way of writing and researching.