Slide describing a process of saving research using personal knowledge management: identify, process, content.
Research process in PKM

I have recently been exploring ways to adopt second brain techniques to manage and organize my research.  At the ASEE 2023 conference, I shared a tips and tricks paper in the NEE division.  The full paper is available in the ASEE archive.


The zettlekasten method has gained a lot of popularity recently. About two-thirds of the videos that appear in a YouTube search for zettlekasten were added within the last couple of years. Content creators and researchers share the tools they use and how they have applied the zettlekasten method to their work. There are even more blogs and other stories about implementing the zettlekasten method. All of these personal anecdotes make it hard to find information that will help someone new to the process determine if or how it will work for them. This paper will provide an overview of the method, the tools available, and tips for implementing zettlekasten in the context of engineering education research. The zettlekasten method is a system for organizing and connecting notes. In this system, a researcher takes notes on index cards then includes tags and links to other notes and ideas. The tags help the researcher identify connections between papers and ideas that they may have forgotten over time. In the past, it was implemented on physical notecards organized in boxes. Now, several digital methods make access and tagging much simpler. It has been credited for enabling Niklas Luhmann’s prolific publications. As a new researcher, I was searching for a method to organize my ideas and literature notes on a new project with a limited budget. I stumbled upon the zettlekasten method and the numerous open-source tools that make it simple to implement on any platform. The other advantage is that many of these tools are based on markdown language, so the notes are stored in plain text. This makes it easy to access data on different platforms and is not dependent on a particular app to read each note. I have found it helpful to collect notes and make connections as I am exploring the literature on a new project. I am also able to quickly capture thoughts from my phone or any other device since my notes are stored in the cloud.


Reck, R. M. (2023, June), Tips for Creating a Functional Personal Knowledge Management System in Academia Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland.