Re: [R] Research Notes

From: Barry Rowlingson <b.rowlingson_at_lancaster.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 14:14:34 +0100

Tom Chr Backer Johnsen wrote:
> I can at best say that this question is related to R.
>
> What has become more and more obvious to me after I started using R
> about two years ago is that I have collected a large number of data
> files, scripts, and workspaces (.Rdata files) in several catalogs on my
> computer. It is also obvious that my memory is not up to the task of
> keeping track of everything. Of course, this is not simply an R thing,
> it also applies to other kinds of documents of various kinds.
>
> Perhaps what is needed is some type of computerized "Research notebook",
> and I wonder if any of the readers of list have had this problem and
> have a suggestion in respect to a solution. Two possibilities I have
> been sniffing at is "Instant Recall" (USD 99) and "AskSam" (much more).
> Which others may be useful?

>

  I use a thing called 'Plain Text File'...

  Basically I keep a file called 'NOTES.txt' in each project directory I work in and keep it updated as I work. I keep note of where data comes from, what I do to it, what various functions do and so on. Then I can use Unix command-line tools such as 'grep' and 'find' to search them.

  I wouldn't dream of using a proprietary tool with a proprietary and closed format for this kind of thing EVER. If you want something more sophisticated than my Plain Text File solution then keep a 'NOTES.tex' file then you can include equations and graphics. Plus it's then trivial to cut things out of it into your final reports and papers.

  Having a simple plain text file makes it easy to use, and if it's not easy you won't use it. If you have to start up a special app to note what you're doing then half the time you won't use it when you really should. Since I've always got emacs open when I'm R-ing, it's trivially simple to open NOTES.txt and add my comments.

  Barry



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