A graduate student’s best friend

A graduate student’s life is many things, but “paperless” is not one of them.  Despite e-mails, online journal catalogues, and e-books, the average grad’s life is filled with literally thousands of pages of notes.  In no case is this truer than when the time comes to write the dissertation.

In my case I have accumulated roughly 2,700 pages of notes in the last two years and that number increases daily!  In my particular field of Modern German History I rely heavily on personal written testimony and memoirs.  The sheer volume of material I need to work with, however, used to pose a big problem for me, as it still does for many graduates, and academics, in general: transcription is time consuming and photocopying is expensive and bulky and can take months to receive from archives.  ScanSnap changed this for me.

For the last two years I have been working on gathering information from a few archives in Germany and I brought my ScanSnap along to help with the project.  In one case, scanning the necessary documents turned a six month+ project into a three week project.  I have every document I need for my research at the tip of my fingers without any of the annoying bulk associated with photocopies.  I even went back over my old graduate and undergraduate notes and scanned them into my computer, allowing me to clean out my desk and work space.

The best part of all is the searchable PDF option available for ScanSnap.  I simply choose the function allowing me to turn my scanned documents into searchable PDF documents.  I can type in any keyword and ScanSnap searches through all my notes and brings up the relative documents.  You can even pick the language you want the word search to occur in, which is perfect for someone for whom roughly 95% of their notes are in German.

So, clean-up your old graduate and undergraduate school notes, stop the transcribing, and save on photocopying.  ScanSnap has saved me time and money, both of which are always in short supply as a grad student.  It has also made the dissertation research process much easier than I ever could have imagined.

Richard Lutjens, Jr.
Graduate Student in History

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