When taking notes, it is important to be accurate and organized with the information you record. The main benefits of using electronic note taking tools are that paper is conserved and searching is facilitated. Using a computer is also suggested when taking extensive notes for large research projects. Below are three note taking tools that work very well for most extensive projects.
Using Microsoft Word
- Open a new document for each new source.
- Type the source’s bibliographic information at the top of the page. Also, type the author’s last name, and keywords from the title in the page’s header.
- Type a one-paragraph summary of the source using your own words.
- Type key quotes and paraphrases. I use bullet points for each new piece of information. Record the page number.
- Save using the header keywords.
- Don’t forget to list personal reflections, questions to follow up on, and reactions. Do distinguish between your own thoughts and the authors. I use the highlighting pen. This way, my own interjections pop out on the page. This is useful if there were thoughts you wanted to follow up on.
Using EndNote Bibliography Software
If research is a regular part of your job description, you may wish to invest in bibliography software like EndNote (Affiliate Link). This program aimed at the academic community tracks all of the bibliographic information, call number information, and notes for your project. You can categorize sources for easy searching and retrieval. If you use this program in conjunction with a meticulous filing system, you can easily find that important document when you need it. EndNote imports bibliographic information into Microsoft Word when you are ready to write your paper.
Zotero is another useful note-taking tool. It plugs directly into Mozilla Firefox. This program is especially helpful if you perform a lot of internet research. It allows you to take a snapshot of the page, or store that JSTOR file you might need later, categorize your sources, and import bibliographic information into Microsoft Word. It allows you also to store your notes and personal thoughts with the document itself. Zotero is open-source software.
Which note taking tools do you use?
The important thing when taking-notes during the research phase of a writing project is to be consistent and organized. One of the services offered by W.R.E. Consulting Services involves assistance with organizating research efforts. For more information on this services and whether it could be useful for your project, contact me directly.