33 Note Taking Skills

Ulrike Kestler and Christina Page

Careless note-taking is one of the major factors in unintentional plagiarism. It is very easy to cut and paste information, and lose track of the sources you used or mix what you borrowed with your own notes. As you read your sources of information, it is important to find a system for writing down the key points that you will use in your paper.

 

Key Takeaways

When taking notes:

  • Keep track of all the sources you used
  • Distinguish between what you took from the sources and what are your own thoughts

 

Three methods of taking notes 

  1. Collect information word for word
  2. Collect and paraphrase right away
  3. Use a digital notebook

 

1. Collect information word for word

  • write down the citation information
  • copy the exact text and put it in quotation marks
  • add your own thoughts in a different colour

When you want to use your researched information to support your point of view, you then decide whether you want to use a direct quote, a paraphrase or a summary of the original. Having the originals in front of you will allow you to double-check that you are quoting accurately and that you are paraphrasing properly.

Example: 

Citation Exact text  My thoughts
Foot, D. K., & Stoffman, D. (1996). Boom, bust & echo: How to profit from the coming demographic shift. Macfarlane. Why did the baby boom happen? A likely explanation is that during those 20 years, Canadians knew they could afford large families. The postwar economy was robust, the future seemed full of promise, and young couples wanted to share that bright future with a big family. A second reason was the high immigration levels that prevailed during the 1950s (Foot & Stoffman, 1996, p. 20). agree with healthy economy and high immigration being factors, but how about people being less material? Check Easterlin’s “relative income” theory!

 

2. Collect information and paraphrase right away 

  • write down the citation information
  • paraphrase
  • your own thoughts in a different colour
Citation Paraphrase  My thoughts
Foot, D. K., & Stoffman, D. (1996). Boom, bust & echo: How to profit from the coming demographic shift. Macfarlane. Foot and Stoffman (1996) theorize that there were two main factors behind the baby boom, namely immigration that remained consistently high and a thriving economy that made young Canadians feel optimistic and gave them the confidence that they would have the means to support the large family they desired. agree with healthy economy and high immigration being factors, but how about people being less material? Check Easterlin’s “relative income” theory!

Source: Adapted from McMaster University (2009). Three column note taking.  http://www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity/students/typeofad/plagiarism/3ColmNote.html

 

3. Use a digital notebook

If you like to read digital files, you may want to take notes with OneNote (free for KPU students with Office 365).

  • paste the file you are reading into the notebook
  • make notes of key information, paraphrases, and analysis alongside the digital file

 

How to use the OneNote Digital Notebook by Christina Page:

License

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Academic Integrity by Ulrike Kestler and Christina Page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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