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HIS 1200 American History: Tips for Research Notetaking

Guide to resources for the study of American life and culture.

Why Notetaking is Important

Good notetaking is important because it:

  • Keeps you actively engaged in the text especially if you are integrating your own thoughts and ideas in your notes and engaging with the text instead of just copying and pasting
  • Allows you to make better connections across texts and identify common themes and issues you want to discuss together
  • Helps move you from memorizing information to processing it
  • Gives you one place to refer back to with all citation information already given, saving you time and effort

Taking Notes for Research Papers

The following video provides an example on how you can approach notetaking electronically while you are reading sources:

Tips for Reading Scholarly Texts

Consider the following tips:

Before you reading:

  • Ask yourself what it is you hope to learn from the article
  • Reading just the abstract, consider the author's intent and perhaps think of further questions you hope the article will answer
  • Don't forget what knowledge on the topic you bring to the table as well
  • Skim the article to get a feel for the basic layout and structure

As you read:

  • Annotate and highlight important points
  • Create a vocabulary list of unfamiliar jargon if necessary
  • Take breaks (especially with longer articles) and segment the article into parts
  • Summarizing every few paragraphs can help make you are understanding the article
  • Pose further questions as needed

After you read:

  • Summarize the article as a whole and connect it to your topic
  • Consider if the author did as they set out to do and if there are any gaps or if there is further information you'd like to know
  • Reread any difficult parts of the article or places where you struggled
  • Be sure to have any page numbers written down for direct quotes you are considering using

REMEMBER: Just because a text has been published does not mean that the information within it cannot be further questioned