Work Pattern: Explore, Tag, Collect (ETC)
A work pattern for explorative investigations, which should result in a structured collection, for instance a Literature Review.
Step 1: Explore
Browse through potential sources for your collection. Possible tools for this are databases, search engines or feed aggregators (eg Google Reader).
Step 2: Tag
Tag articles or places you think might be of relevance. Do not think of a complex and sophisticated typology for tags but rather use a generic „might be interesting tag“. In Google Reader, for instance, this can be achieved by ‚starring‘ relevant articles. In other contexts, you could email yourself a copy of the respective article. For academic research you can try to collect the full references if it can be achieved effortlessly (for instance from databases interfacing with online bookmark managers like cituelike.org).
The main objective for the steps 1 and 2 is speed and openness. Try to explore as many sources as possible an be open to novel roads.
Step 3: Collect
With a little time difference, go back to the tagged resources. Flip through them and reflect whether you still find them relevant. If you think so, you can add these articles to a collector. A collector is a vehicle which helps you to organize and classify the pieces of information you have found. This can for instance be a long essay with many essays, where you can add the pieces of information as references to relevant sections. It can also be a classification typology of tags or other forms to structure your information.