A thorough research paper depends on good note taking. Gather information pertinent to your research topic from many sources throughout the library. Use reference books, magazine and newspaper indexes, vertical (pamphlet) files, reference materials on CD-ROM or online databases, videotapes, and anything else that will provide you with knowledge in any format. Before taking any notes, read the information you have found to decide if it will be valuable for your research and will support your topic. Then follow these steps for successful note taking:
1. Use note cards to record the information you discover. (3" x 5" or whatever you prefer or your teacher requires).
2. Include the following on each note card:
Heading: the specific topic the note refers to.
Note with one main idea: this could be a fact, idea, statistic, opinion of an author or authority, or definition of a term.
Bibliographic reference: author (or title if there is no author) and page number of the source where information was obtained. If material came from an online database, such as America Online, Prodigy, or the Internet, indicate name of database.
Your own opinion (optional): when appropriate, add your own opinion or comments in a special area of the card or in a different color ink to keep it separate from the author’s opinion.
3. Use one of the following types of notes on each card:
Paraphrase: use your own words to express the idea or opinion of the author. Do not copy any information word for word because it will be more difficult to translate it into your own words later, when you are ready to write your report.