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The Writing Guide

Planning, researching, writing, referencing and drafting your assignments

What's a research file?

Keep notes of your research process!

A research file could be a word document, or a notebook, or a pile of paper in a folder, or a program like EverNote or OneNote, or a bibliographic software like EndNote. It's simply a place were you keep notes about the things you found.

Taking notes about your research is something that can save your sanity.

Be kind to your future self:

  • Copy and paste your search strings (especially the ones that gave good results) into a document, and note what databases gave you the best results (you may have to go looking again).
  • Every time you find something that seems even remotely interesting, make a note about it so you can go back to it later. This will help you in the wee hours of the morning when you are desperately trying to remember where you read something.
  • Remember, if you are using someone else's information, you have to cite it. If you can't cite it you can't use it - so take notes on who said what.

The simplest (and best) thing you can do is always note the core referencing details whenever you read something, and leave a few notes to remind yourself what it was about (and take note of anything that stuck out - even if you didn't think it was particularly useful to you at the time). You will almost certainly find yourself trying to remember it in the middle of the night when you need to get your assignment finished.

The Cornell Method of critical note-taking

Remember the Cornell Method of note-taking we talked about in Step 2 of the Writing Process? This template encourages you to take critical notes when reading journal articles, course readings and text book chapters - and keep the citation details with your notes.

Tools for creating research files

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