You take notes to record material that will help you complete your
research project or paper. There
are three main note-taking techniques that students at Fairfield need to be
familiar with. Notice that copying
pages of the encyclopedia and/or copying information using a computer are NOT
accepted note-taking techniques.
A direct quotation records the exact words of the source and places them in quotation marks. A well-chosen quote can enhance a research report, but too much quoting indicates that you probably haven’t actually learned the material. Use direct quotations only when the author’s words are especially vivid or imaginative; otherwise you should find a way to say it in your own words.
Paraphrasing is when you use your own words to explain the content contained in the original source. Good paraphrasing shows that you have actually learned the content. Much of the research writing you do at Fairfield will be paraphrased.
Summarizing is like paraphrasing in that you use your own words, but you do so much more briefly. A summary is a general statement of the source content. Make sure you do not oversimplify complex issues that merit more explanation.
When doing research, it is important to remember that YOU CANNOT JUST COPY INFORMATION FROM YOUR SOURCES! As researchers, you must first read (or view or listen to) the information, then process it in your own mind, and finally write it down IN YOUR OWN WORDS. When you steal (or even “borrow liberally”) the words of another researcher, you are committing plagiarism, which is not only unethical and considered cheating, but also against the law! Don’t plagiarize!