Evernote as a Research Tool

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

Evernote Icon

KPK has been focused on several digital curation projects for several years now (e.g., Kpopiana, Digital Documentation, etc.). In that effort, we use lots of applications and tools that we’ve also found very useful for teaching and learning. Today I’ll discuss a tool called Evernote and share with you how I apply it at KPK and when I work with students who need research assistance.

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a set of applications that help users capture, organize, and archive digital (or analog) information for use. Items saved in Evernote are called Notes, and Notes can be anything: documents, websites (or parts of websites), photos, and more. The most popular – and easiest – way to import Notes into Evernote is through a browser extension called the Evernote Web Clipper that captures them as users browse and search for information on the Internet.  Notes can be annotated by adding tags to them, and the notes can also be categorized into folders. Other things users can do with the notes include adding comments, exporting, and sharing them via social networks. 

Evernote is a “freemium” service; that is, there is a free version that offers basic access and features, and more advanced iterations of the product include a fee for more storage and upgraded features.

Evernote at KPK

At KPK, Evernote houses our Information Archive. I add news articles about important or interesting Hallyu developments, some scholarly documents, and links to websites. I’ve created a tagging architecture for any notes that get included in the archive and periodically check the notes for tagging integrity. At post time, the Information Archive contains 909 notes. In addition to providing a real-time archive of Hallyu history, the archive provides support for the scholarly communication efforts of KPK members, including the Hallyu Bibliography.

Evernote Use in the Research Process

As an information professional, one of the services I offer is called Research Consultations. Research Consultations are meetings I have with faculty or students to address in-depth reference questions and other information-seeking processes.

There are several information-seeking models, and all of them include a stage wherein a person recognizes the space between their information need and the answer that will resolve it. Belkin (1980) called it an Anomalous State of Knowledge; in her sense-making metaphor, Dervin (1992) recognized the cognitive gap; and Kulthau’s process (1993) starts with recognition of uncertainty. 

During this stage, many people’s attempts to reconcile their need include several Google searches.  I’ve found that Evernote is a great tool to help students hone their information-seeking skills, especially when they browse the Internet during their initial research processes. Evernote can help students:

  • Perform Internet searches with more confidence since Evernote can save items that they can look at later (information evaluation)
  • Organize their thoughts as they tag their notes. Students can use these tags as keywords which, in turn, can help them create subsequent search strings to refine their question. Tagging also helps students see relationships between their ideas (determination of what information is needed)
  • Practice ethical information usage by archiving copyright and ownership data for more accurate citations. Evernote captures notes as they appear on the date of access, so items like author names, publishing year, and other information that many citation formats require are easily accessible, even if the original website is no longer available (ethical use of information)

Information Literacy Standards*: 1, 2, 5

The Evernote interface. Credit: Evernote.
The Evernote interface. Credit: Evernote, http://bit.ly/1CJZ5FS

In addition to these benefits, Evernote is relatively easy to use and has a low learning curve – many students have already acquired the basic skills required to use the tool – namely, downloading applications and tagging information (thanks, Twitter and Instagram!). Moreover, Evernote is also available for download on handheld devices, so students can access their notes anywhere they have wi-fi or wireless carrier service.

Are you using Evernote to help you in your research efforts? Have you told your students about how Evernote can help them get their work done? Tell us how about how you’re using Evernote for your teaching and scholarly activities in the comment section below.

*ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education published in 2000. ACRL is currently updating these standards, and you may find the ACRL’s more current Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education document helpful.



Belkin, N.J. (1980). Anomalous states of knowledge as a basis for information retrieval. The Canadian Journal of Information Science, 5: 133-143.

Dervin, B. (1992). From the mind’s eye of the user: The sense-making qualitative-quantitative methodology. In Glazier, J. and Powell, R. R. Qualitative research in information management (p. 61-84). Englewood, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Kulthau, C. (1993). A principle of uncertainty for information seeking. Journal of Documentation, 49(4), 339-355.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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