Taking notes

When conducting research and preparing to write essays, reports and assignments, students should remember to keep a record of information that will help them to track the source of information as well as help answer assigned questions. Good note taking and research methods should help students avoid not remembering the source a quotation came from, or forgetting to note another author’s text with quotation marks. Students may wish to use research worksheets to track keywords, source titles and links, and passages that will be paraphrased or quoted directly in a final product.

When researching, students should also review the assignment criteria to focus their reading and identify subtopics that must be explored. Students shouldn’t try to write down everything but rather, should try to compress ideas and summarize them in their own words, so they can be integrated into their own writing. Carefully examine prepared summaries to ensure that exact phrases from the original source have not been used. Students should avoid copying and pasting large sections of text, particularly when taking electronic notes.

In some courses, instructors may choose to use software that is capable of analyzing an electronically submitted assignment. Such software may detect and highlight any text that has been published elsewhere, in a source or in another archived student paper. If highlighted text has not been properly cited in the assignment under analysis, the student who submitted the paper may be subject to an academic penalty.


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