Now that you have completed your survey of resources, it is time to read about your topic and begin taking notes. An organizational tool for this phase of the research process is a note card.
- Write on only one side of each 3×5 or 5×7 index card.
- You will need a note card for quotations, an author’s ideas, statistics, graphs and charts.
- Make a separate note card for each idea or quotation you might want to use in your paper.
- Put quotation marks around material that is copied word for word.
- If you find the information in 3 or more sources and put it in your own words, it is common knowledge and doesn’t require that you document the source. It will be difficult during the early stages of reading and taking notes to determine what is common knowledge, so if you write it on a note card, give the source.
Note Cards Format
Explanation of the Parts of the Note Card
Label – The label is used to categorize the notes you are taking under several descriptive headings. Labels allow you to arrange your notes in some logical order according to the topics and subtopics in your preliminary outline. You will arrange your cards according to their labels before you write your page. You may not be able to label your note card as soon as you take the note. This may have to be done after you’ve had time to reflect on your reading and note taking.
Page Number – The exact page number where you found the citation should be noted on the card. Keep in mind that online databases and the Internet do not have page numbers.
The Source – This refers to where you found your information. It is always enclosed in parentheses.
The Note – This can be a summary, a paraphrase, or a quotation from a book, a magazine article, an online database, or the Internet. This is the information that you will use to write your paper; in fact, you should be able to write your paper by using your note cards and not have to refer back to the sources of information. Be sensible about note taking. You will have more cards than you need to write your paper, but do not take down every detail and do not duplicate material.
If you are incorporating a quoted question and a parenthetical citation, the question mark is followed by the quotation mark and then the parenthetical citation, which ends with a period.
Make sure you attach to each of your note cards a photocopy (or a printout if it is an online source) of the page where you get your notes.
Place the note cards (with the attached photocopies) inside a long, clear, plastic envelope and leave it in my pigeon hole before the 19th of December 2012.