Advice on Journal Strategy

I’m conducting qualitative data analysis and I take lots of notes. Some are process oriented, some are insights, some are reflection/reflexive, some are just pure documentation so that I don’t forget what I’ve done or why.

I’ve used Roam for this for about a year and it’s just a mess. I can’t make sense of them or scan them easily and so I want to either cut my losses or apply a solid strategy, clean things up, and move forward. My goal is to capture the insight/reflection/documentation easily and, most importantly, be able to read through them later to recall and use them in my work.

Things I’ve tried or could try:

  • #[[Journal]] on the daily note and then bullets under for my entry
  • #[[Journal]] on bullets in relevant pages as I’m recording quotes or to do items and have a reflection/insight
  • One long [[Journal]] page/outline that I go to anytime I want to make a note. (I haven’t done this, but I could /date each bullet and then put the entry underneath.)

With these methods (or perhaps because I’ve used a combination of them), it’s a big mess when I go to review the linked and unlinked references. If re-visiting is higher on the list than capture, is Roam a poor choice for this? I could use another app that’s more traditional diary-style and have tried that, too, but ease of entry is a real strength for Roam.

How do/would you handle this situation?

Hi @Beck - I’m very much a newbie to Roam & this is my first post/reply in this forum, so maybe I’m missing something. But:
Your problem is one I’ve generated in TheBrain over a few years & am trying to not replicate it as I migrate gradually to Roam. So I’ve been doing a lot of trial & error-ing on this issue myself.
And just today I discovered namespaces - which I’m playing with now in hopes that it helps. If you haven’t come across the namespace concept yet, you might want to check it out :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m not sure I understand your problem correctly.

Myself, I very much like to work from the Daily Notes page, since it automatically links my notes to the day I make them (and time with /current time). It makes the barrier for entry very low, and I can use [[links]] or #tags or block references or embeds to connect them to other concepts, and easily find them back later by going to the references of that page or block.

It sounds like you’re collecting all of your notes under #Journal? I can imagine that will become a big mess. Perhaps you can experimenting with different tags, with a tag for every project you’re running, one for #Insight, #Reflection, #Documentation etc. That way you use filters to focus on the insights of a specific project.
What I like to do also, is make a project outline, with all the different steps I need to take, or papers I need to read etc. Then I can pin that in the sidebar, and easily make references to that paper or step in the Daily Notes page and collect my notes there.

I think your solution is to create an organised tagging/linking structure and stick to it as you enter your data. Nat Eliason has something along these lines, if you’re looked at his video course, and I guess others do too, to give you a starting point.

I would propose doing all entry into Daily notes and using the tagging structure to provide some organisation.

I think Roam’s ease of use makes this a common trap - I’ve experienced it myself. Because it’s so easy, we’re fooled into thinking that we don’t have to have a plan.

Thanks to all who chimed in on this. Here’s what I’m going to try moving forward:

  • Renamed “Journal” to “Dissertation/Journal”
  • All entries will be entered in Daily Notes as bullets under a /time stamp with the #[[Dissertation/Journal]] hashtag
  • I’ve cleaned up any entries that were on pages and moved them to their Daily Notes page

This way, on the [[Dissertation/Journal]] page, all my Linked References appear in chronological order and can be read like that if I need. If I feel the need to have my journal notes referenced on a given page, I can block embed bullets on pages where appropriate.

I’ll let you know if this serves my needs or if I augment this plan.