Once you have located your resources, you will need to take notes, organize these notes, and synthesize these notes along with your own ideas and opinions making your research uniquely yours!


Gathering         Organizing & Synthesizing




  • Once you decide to use a source for information, take notes.

What notes should I record?


    • You will need to record notes that will help you answer your research question. When reading books, articles, etc., keep your research question in mind so you are not overwhelmed with all the information and you take the notes relevant to your research. 
    • Paraphrase main ideas (put the authors notes into your own words) and record quotes that answer or are related to your research question.
    • All facts, ideas, paraphrasing, & quotes taken from one of your sources must be properly sited using the MLA format or the format required by your assignment. (See Citing Sources)
    • If you are summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting, keep a record of the page you are using.

·      You will need to use page numbers for parenthetical citation.

PDF Handout - Parenthetical Citation

  Types of notes


o       Note Cards

·      Use index cards to record notes.

·      One side of the index card should have the MLA citing information while the other side has the notes from that source.


o       Computer Notes


·      Computer notes can be an easy and efficient way of taking notes but you need to be aware of the risks of plagiarism.


·      Cutting and pasting from online sources is not taking notes.  This is plagiarism. 

PDF - SHUSD Academic Honesty Policy
Coming soon


·      Use your computer notes the same as you would pen and paper notes. Paraphrase main ideas, use quotation marks for direct quotes or any words you are taking directly from the source. 


·      Be sure to clearly record the MLA citation information on your computer notes.


o       Cornell Notes 


·      This is a systematic method of note taking that originated at Cornell University.

·      The Cornell Notes method encourages  reflection, questioning and summarization. All of these skills lead to better research!

·      Create a working Works Cited page as soon as you begin taking notes. It is a good idea to use a word document which you can easily edit when you add or delete a source. 
        (See Citing Sources) 
PDF Handout - Creating a Working Bibliography
Coming soon

 Organizing & Synthesizing …


  • Before you begin writing, you’ll need to organize your notes.  This will help you create a more organized, cohesive outline and paper. 
    • Review your research question and read over your notes.
    • If you haven’t already developed a thesis statement, create one.

§      A thesis statement is a single sentence that explains the purpose of the paper.

·      A thesis statement is what your paper is going to prove.

·      A thesis statement reflects your point of view and the research you have conducted.

§      The thesis statement should appear somewhere in the introduction of the paper.


    • Using an outline form, begin to arrange your information to answer your question or prove your thesis statement.
    • Writing an outline will help you see if you have gaps or holes in your research. Are there areas of your research that are weak? Do you have sufficient evidence to support your thesis statement?

·      If you answer yes to either of these questions, you will need to do further research to strengthen these areas.


Student Resources

RLS Library catalog
SHHS Library Catalog

SH Public Library 

St Helena Public Library


 EbscoHost Database

ABC CLIO Database
World Book Online
World Book
Google Books
Google Book Search


Citation Generator



Last Modified on October 14, 2013