Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Organizing Your Research with Notecards

Have you ever worked on a term paper and had trouble organizing your thoughts and ideas?  Developing an organized system of recording, categorizing and organizing notecards is a useful strategy to keep your ideas in order so that when you go to write the paper, you have a concrete direction to focus from.

After you finish gathering your sources and taking notes, keep a set of 4x6 notecards and record the title, author and a fact about the source; you can also write in the bottom left hand corner what section in the paper, to include the facts.  On the back of the card, paraphrase the information that you recorded from the resource into your own words.  This will make the transition to writing the paper itself easier since you will be fine tuning your writing skills as you summarize the information you’ve gathered.  This is also an important precaution to take to avoid plagiarism.  Once you have recorded your facts on all of your notecards, arrange them into piles, label which sections and topics the information will go into.  When you have this information organized, it will make the transition to writing your paper much easier.  

If you anticipate needing to write a lot of information on the card, you might want to upgrade to a 5x7 card.  However, bear in mind that since you are recording the title and author of the source, you can always refer back to the source when you need more information.  Sometimes, recording too much information on the card can be overwhelming when you start to organize and classify them by subtopic.

Writing research papers gives us excellent practice in honing our organization skills.  While it can sometimes seem like a big undertaking, organizing and prioritizing your resources early on in this way can prevent chaos and confusion as you prepare to draft the paper.  In addition, it will help you fine tune your research skills as you prepare to write one of greater length future courses.  For more information on this topic, visit this link

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