I would have had to teach the students the software, and the learning curve’s steepness and the difficulties with shared computers were substantial enough that it could never be justified.
He describes two methods, neither one involving note cards.
In fact, he described note cards in the first edition of the book but refused to include them in the second edition, admitting that in good conscience, I can’t do it anymore.
The problem was not that much better when reading books or paper sources—again I was copying something by hand only to have to type it later.
Acutely aware of this, I searched the web during graduate school for a program that would allow me to skip the pen work.
Shuffling note cards helps her to do this, helps her avoid writing a source-by-source recap of the information she has read.
In my own experience, I have found the method useful on research projects, even through graduate school.I jumped to their defense, citing the things I noted above.I liked the way note cards could be shuffled and mixed; how once mixed, the original source became less important than the information on the card; and how, no matter how big your paper got, the method’s process held true.Clearly, Ballenger is not opposed to the note cards for their waste of energy as much as he is opposed to the way they allow the sources to dominate the conversation.This is certainly a weakness of my students’ work, and with that declaration he attracts my attention.If this were the only thing Ballenger had to offer, I would probably not change my ways–though I would feel a bit worse about them, knowing his criticism of note cards has merit.The second method he describes, however, caught my attention.With it I was able to use the method I loved without the extra step.Yet when it came to my students, learning Zotero was not an option.They could see the importance of tracking the source, of categorizing information, and separating notes into bites, and if they could apply those methods to an improvised version, then so be it. That was my argument, and I am still fairly convinced of it.On my desk is a student’s outline and in the first paragraph she plans to cite three different sources.