Effective note-taking from readings is an essential skill for university study. Good note-taking creates a bank of relevant points that you can use for your assignments. It also helps you realize where your ideas came from and where you should acknowledge an original author.
To take good notes requires:
GUIDE TO NOTE-TAKING from University of Adelaide
|Ensure you have full bibliographic details (author, date, name of article/book website, publisher, where published etc) of the reading on your notes as you will need this later when constructing a reference or bibliography list.
§ Try to write a one sentence thesis statement. What is the whole reading/chapter about? This can often be found in the introduction to the chapter/article and identifying it will focus your notes.
§ Keep your notes to the main point. Do not just copy all of the text in the original.
§ Try to write the points in your own words so that you understand the reading. Do not copy large slabs of the original, rather paraphrase or summarise the issues (SEE "How to paraphrase" below)
§ Note any page numbers for direct quotes. Keep direct quotes to a minimum and ensure they are copied exactly. In your writing, quotes are used to support your argument, not to form the argument itself.
§ Leave space for critical comment e.g. things that are unclear; contradictions; points of agreement/disagreement with other readings on the same issue; controversial statements/viewpoints presented; whether you agree with what is being stated.
§ Store your notes in an orderly, easily accessible way.
NOTE: When you use your own words to represent the main ideas in a text, this is called paraphrasing. This is a good skill to learn as it helps you to understand the concepts in a way that is clear to you. It can take time but it will really help your understanding.
HOW TO PARAPHRASE:
Read a section of the text carefully, until you understand exactly what the author is saying.
Then look away and capture the main statements in your own words.
Afterwards, check your paraphrase against the source for accuracy.
Adjust phrases that match the original too closely.
BUT: Even when you are paraphrasing you are still borrowing someone else’s ideas, so it’s important that you write down the details of the source where you found the idea. You can make use of your paraphrase in your essay, but should acknowledge the source (See Module 7, Citing sources)
When making notes, you may also insert your own responses or even notes to yourself in square brackets.
For example, [I disagree, because in SA it doesn't work this way] or, [put this information in a table - supply source info].
|>||more than / greater than|
|<||less than / fewer than|
|ie||that is / in other words|
|=||is equivalent to|
|→||causes, leads to, results in|
Here are just a few of commonly-used abbreviations.
Do you know the origin of any of the Latin ones (eg, ie, cf or nb)?
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