Research notebooks are a great way to keep your research organized. If you use resources like Microsoft’s OneNote, the universal Evernote, or GrowlyBird’s Growly for Mac, then your research routine involves grabbing information and placing it into a notebook as you find it. An interesting alternative to these products is LiveBinders, a Web-based product that is in beta. It is a research notebook concept aimed at faculty but has some interesting features that will appeal to legal researchers.
LiveBinders uses the term research binder, and like a paper-based binder, each tab represents an entry point to multiple pieces of content. Their starter tutorial walks you through how to drop in video, images, and text. You can also include whole Web pages.
It has some distinctive features though. The one I found most intriguing was the ability to create a new binder based on a Google search. You log in to your LiveBinder account, create a new binder and, at the bottom of the form for creating the binder, select to create it from a Google search. You type in the search query keywords you want to use, and when the binder is made, it pre-populates with content based on that search. If you have done some Google searching on a topic and have a good, tight query, this is an excellent way to grab a bunch of information and put it into a research notebook. From a productivity standpoint, you may find that it is easier to start with a pre-populated notebook and weeding out pages, rather than starting from a blank slate and filling it.
The Google search option strikes me as a great opportunity to create fast client development binder or business information about an opponent. If you need to do a quick grab of information, and look at it or save it for later, this would be an efficient way to do it.
Lawyers who want to grab resources for CLE presentations that they are giving can create a binder and use a presentation mode to display the information. It opens a new Web browser window without tabs or menus with your binder inside.
Creating a new binder is simple. You can also take a current LiveBinder and copy it, so that you can quickly get your research going. LiveBinder offers a bookmarklet to drop on your Web browser toolbar, for quickly adding content to your binders.
Your research binders are private but can be shared publicly or by a private link if you want to share research (useful if you are a law clerk, research attorney, or librarian doing research for others) with others in your firm. Like any cloud-based system, your content is not guaranteed against disclosure to courts, and there is no encryption.