Taking Notes

Taking Notes

An important part of the research process is getting useful information from the resources you have chosen. There are a variety of ways of doing this.

The Old Fashioned Way - Index Cards

Note taking used to be primarily done on Index cards (which are for sale in the Library Vending Machines).  There are still some advantages in that it is easy to arrange and organize the cards, and it reduces inadvertant plagiarism from cutting and pasting.

The way that notes were taken was a personal preference, but there were some known standard practices. 

a. In this style, sources were numbered and facts and quotes were added to cards based on which section of the paper the fact would go into.  It is important to note the page number and whether the item is a quote, a paraphrase or summary.

sources card 

b. In this style, each card represents a single fact, which allows the writer to move them around into logical arrangements. The sources are writeen on another card or cards and the authors name or source number is noted on the fact card. This style might work better for papars that will include long quotes.

c. In this style, each source has a card which contains all of the useful facts or quotes gleaned from that source.

Taking Notes on a Computer

Similar methods can be used to take notes on a computer.  Products can be purchased which simulate index cards, but it is fairly easy to take notes in a Word Processor. The notes can be organized by outline section or by source.  Both are effective although some people find that writing the outline first and fitting the facts or quotes into the outline means that the paper practically writes itself.  The major danger in this case is that taking notes on the computer makes it a little too easy to cut and paste and inadvertant plagiarism might be the result.  If you do cut and paste, you must be sure to make a notation immediately (before you forget) that the materials is verbatim.

If you use the outline method, it helps to have a separate document which lists the sources with numbers so that you can simply put the # and page next to each fact or quote.


Last modified: 10/12/2010 12:57 PM by M. Potter

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