Follow these tips from Juliet Dunphy, Manager, Student Learning Services, Concordia Student Success Centre.
Always try to think critically about a text and its connection to your assignment. Write down some of your own ideas by summarizing the key arguments in your own words. This can be done in the margin of the text, or on a separate piece of paper. Only highlight very important quotes or terms.Source: University of New England. (n.d.) Reading and Taking Notes on Scholarly Journal Articles. Retrieved June 5, 2017, from http://www.une.edu/sites/default/files/Reading-and-Annotating.pdf
When taking notes, always put quotation marks around direct quotes. Some students try to use italics, or a different font, but it is too easy to accidentally re-format your document and change the fonts. You may want to consider dividing your page into two columns: they say/I say. This way you will always know which words are someone else's, whether it's direct quotes or paraphrases.
|They say...||I say...|
Ekelund, U., Steene-Johannessen, J., Brown, W. J., Fagerland, M. W., Owen, N., Powell, K. E., & ... Lee, I. (2016). Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. The Lancet, 388 (10051), 1302-1310. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30370-1
Many databases will generate a citation that you can paste into your notes, or take down by hand. This should include information on the author, date of publication, title, journal title (if it's an article), page numbers, and (if it's online) the DOI or URL. Taking the time to record accurate citation information at this stage will help you avoid accidental plagiarism, and will also save you time at the writing stage.
Make sure to check your generated citations - they are not always correct! Use the Library's citation style guides to make sure all the required elements of the citation are present and correctly formatted.
There are several ways to organize your ideas. You could:
As you learn more about your topic, you will probably want to revise your original outline.
Don't wait until you've read everything to start writing; this can lead to over-researching. Writing can help you refine your argument and clarify what is essential. Try to write a little every day without worrying about spelling or grammar. If you want, you can start in the middle, or with the easiest sections. Your work will go through many revisions; it's okay if your first draft is rough.