Study Notes for Students | Your Key to Effective Studying

Recording the Information You Want to Use

At this point you are ready to start your most critical part of the whole research project. The information you choose to use and the quality of the notes you take will largely determine the quality of the project you turn in and the grade you get back in return.

Your goal is to record the information you intend to use as completely and accurately as possible in your own words. You may choose to quote something directly from your source, but if you do, you must put it in quotation marks and copy it exactly as it is written in the source, including punctuation marks. The author will also have to be mentioned. You should do this only when you deem it necessary. Remember that this is to be your report with your conclusions, not a compilation of other people's writing and quotations.

As you progress you want to limit the content of each card to one thought or idea or fact. If you are dealing with a lengthy bit of data you can turn the card over and use the back side as well, but if you can't fit the information on one card, you need to break it into two thoughts or ideas and use two cards.

Once you have the information you need on a card and are ready to proceed to the next card and next piece of data, finish the card by making sure you have the resource number in the upper left corner. Below that number, write the page number from which you extracted the information on this card. Remember that general outline you did on your topic? Here's how you use it. Pull it out and take a look at the outline and determine under which heading or sub-heading the information you entered on the card would best fit. If you think it fits best under Roman Numeral II in your outline, write "II" in the upper right corner of your card. If you can't figure out where it would best fit, put a large question mark in that space. This will tell you to look at it later when you do your detailed outline. Under that number or question mark, insert a one or two word clue as to what the information deals with on the card.

After you have completed all of the notes from a particular source, go back to the original Bibliography card you prepared on the source and place a check mark in the top middle of the card to tell you that you are finished with that source for the time being.

Your own thoughts and ideas are an important part of your research and you want to keep them as they come to you. Although you may choose to discard some of them later, you want to have that option. Keep your thoughts on separate index cards. Instead of source numbers, insert your initials as your locator key and add a subject line to remind you what you are addressing. You may want to include a Roman numeral from your general outline if you think you know the area this thought or idea may best fit.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013


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