Tagging Part 2

Tagging Part 2: Digitizing Tags for a Reliable Cross-Referencing System

In my Tagging Part 1 post, I define what a tag is, describe why you should consider using tags, and then give examples of how to assign tags to research article you read for your dissertation. In this post, Tagging, Part 2, I will address the number of tags you might assign each article, and then how to use the tags as part of a larger, digital cross-referencing organizational structure.

Tags Part 2

How many tags should I assign to each article?

It depends. For example, you might have found this article…

Fram, S.M. (2013). The constant comparative analysis method outside of grounded theory. The Qualitative Report, 18(1), 1-25. Retrieved http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR18/fram1.pdf

…and decided to tag it with the big picture tags

mych1; mych3

But you might also want to further determine where in those chapters the article may help. Therefore, you could ALSO add APA Heading tags. I might choose

myNoS; myDataAnal

To further narrow the usefulness of the article, you might choose to use the Library Sub-Question Letters as an additional tag.


FYI: LibSubQ-E is “Why is the methodology I’m proposing the best choice to address the problem I’ve identified?” You can learn more about LibSubQ’s in my NoteTaking post.

Whatever method you develop to use for tagging articles, APPLY THEM CONSISTENTLY. In the example above, I would always apply all three levels of tags: the chapter tags, the APA heading tags, and the LibSubQ tags.

You may also find funny ways to remember an article. I am visual, and while I might not remember the primary author of an article I’ve read, I’ll remember that I read it while siting on the beach in Florida. So I have a group of tags that start with “Iread@”


While these tags make sense to no one but me, they have got me out of a bind, more than once.

Once I’ve assigned tags to an article, what do I do with them?

The purpose of assigning tags is to be able to quickly search and identify the resources you need when writing a specific part of your paper. Therefore, just writing the tags in pencil at the top of the printed pdf file, is not going to help. And you can’t easily file them (in physical or digital folders) according to tags, because you assign more than one tag to an article. Therefore you must keep a running log, of the articles, and the tags you want to associate with them. There are two simple ways to do this.

Option 1: Use Bibliography Software.

I highly recommend the use of bibliography software such as Zotero or Endnote. In the program, there is a place to enter keywords. If you exported the article from the Walden database directly into your library, there will most likely already be some keywords in that field. However, you can add the tags you assigned as well. Here is what the keywords for the Fram (2013) article looks like in my EndNote program.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.46.41 AM Then, when its time to write the Nature of Study section of the dissertation, I simply select “Keywords” in EndNote, type “myNoS,” click “Search” and all the articles I assigned that tag, will be separated out for easy access.

EndNote Screen shot of Searching for Tags in Endnote

Option 2: Keep a Digital Record.

If you do not use bibliography software, you should design either a matrix (example provided on slide #25 of my NoteTaking VoiceThread), or at the very least a running log, in either a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. It might look like this.

Assigned Tags Article Citation
myDataAnal LibSubQE
Fram, S. M. (2013). The constant comparative analysis method outside of grounded theory. The Qualitative Report 18(1): 1-25. Retrieved http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR18/fram1.pdf

As you read articles, you keep adding them to the list. This way, when you are ready to write your Nature of the Study section, you can use the “Find” feature, type in “myNoS” and each time it appears in the document it will be highlighted so you can easily identify and then retrieve the associated articles.

Tagging Summary

To streamline your proposal research process, it is best to develop a tagging system early in order to 1) align resources with the purposes of the paper, 2) group similar articles together 3) identify areas where more research is needed, and then later 4) to quickly find research during the writing process. Develop and assign tags carefully and consistently, using the same exact words and spaces so that the tags are searchable the system is reliable. Use the tags as part of a bigger, digital cross-referencing organizational structure, such as a bibliography software program, or a running log. Developing a reliable tagging system will make the time you spend delving into the literature more purposeful and meaningful, and therefore, increase the confidence at which you attack the literature. Good luck.


NoteTaking for the Dissertation Proposal: a VoiceThread about the Abstract Review, LibSubQ’s, and NoteTaking Tips.

Blog Post: Abstract Review: Getting the Big picture


LibSub’s Alignment with the dissertation checklist.


2 thoughts on “Tagging Part 2

  1. We miss you Dr. Darci. We hope all is well and you’ll start posting new content again soon. Thanks for reading our blog on the regular. You’re an allstar commenter. And thanks for all you do for the entire Walden community.

    • Like you all, due to busy schedule, I had to take a little break from posting. Maybe I’ll get new content up this spring and summer. I have a running list of topics I yet want to cover. Thanks for the encouragement! Dr. Darci

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