Friday, May 28, 2021

PowerNotes Research Organization Tool Now Available

The Law School community now has institutional access to PowerNotes, a research organization and outlining tool that uses a browser extension to capture, organize, and track sources from other databases and websites. Current Law School community members may sign up under an institutional account allowing unlimited projects with their email address. (Anyone may sign up for a free individual account that includes the creation of one project.)

PowerNotes provides a helpful "Quick Start" guide to using its system. Users must install a browser extension for Chrome (also works with Microsoft Edge) or Firefox, and create an account with the system. The browser extension allows researchers to capture highlighted text on a website and add it to a project outline with notes. Outlines can be easily organized and also exported into various formats, including Microsoft Word and Excel or Google Docs and Sheets.

PowerNotes can be used with free websites as well as subscription databases like Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, and HeinOnline (which includes a guide to using PowerNotes with Hein libraries on its help pages). Tutorials on various aspects of using the system are available at the PowerNotes website. 

Duke University users have access to other research and reference management tools, such as the citation managers EndNote and RefWorks (both available for free download through OIT’s Software page). Each of these tools works a bit differently, as PowerNotes describes on its own comparison document. Researchers may wish to experiment with these tools as well as alternatives like Zotero and Mendeley in order to determine the research and reference management processes that work the best for their preferences. The Duke University Libraries offer a comparison chart to these citation management tools that can help sort through the differences. In the end, the "best" research organization system is the one that works the best for your personal preferences!