Develop your topics, questions and research projects bottom up from within the system
5. Develop your topics, questions and research projects bottom up from within the system. See what is there, what is missing and what questions arise. Read more to challenge and strengthen your arguments and change and develop your arguments according to the new information you are learning about. Take more notes, develop ideas further and see where things will take you. Just follow your interest and always take the path that promises the most insight. Build upon what you have. Even if you don’t have anything in your slip-box yet, you never start from scratch – you already have ideas on your mind to be tested, opinions to be challenged and questions to be answered. Do not brainstorm for a topic. Look into the slip-box instead to see where chains of notes have developed and ideas have been built up to clusters. Don’t cling to an idea if another, more promising one gains momentum. The more you become interested in something, the more you will read and think about it, the more notes you will collect and the more likely it is that you will generate questions from it. It might be exactly what you were interested in from the beginning, but it is more likely that your interests will have changed – that is what insight does.
1. Make fleeting notes
2. Make literature notes
3. Make permanent notes
4. Now add your new permanent notes to the slip-box by:
5. Develop your topics, questions and research projects bottom up from within the system
By keeping just a few basic principles in mind and with an understanding of the logic behind the file system, I see no reason why anyone should not be able to replicate Luhmann’s formula for successful learning, writing and research.