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Chemistry LibreTexts

Good Notes Matter

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    While the focus of this week is "just note-taking," it's important to recognize that the quality of your final paper will depend on the quality of your notes. 

    Quality notes have information relevant to your question expressed briefly in your own words.  It's unfortunately too easy to introduce "accidental plagiarism."  Read this web page from Tufts University to see how proper note-taking can make the difference. Then review the examples of proper paraphrasing from Purdue University included below.

    If you are college-bound, it's definitely important for you to recognize what constitutes plagiarism, and if you are headed into the workforce, you can bet that at some point, whether through copyright law, patent, or other business writing, the quality of authenticity will be important.

    Take time to understand these guidelines.

    Excerpted from

    Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words

    The original passage:

    Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

    A plagiarized version:

    Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

    A legitimate paraphrase:

    In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

    An acceptable summary:

    Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).