As a tertiary student, it is essential to develop effective notemaking skills to ensure that you get the most out of the time that you spend reading.
Good notemaking can help organise your ideas and keep you focussed on your reading. It can also help you keep a record of your reading and help you locate information. There is nothing worse than having to spend time tracking down information that you have previously read and now require for an assignment!
Jotting down notes on a reading in the margins and/or highlighting important sections can help you to better understand a text to some extent. However, as your reading requirements become more extensive, it is well worth your while to spend time to write effective notes that will save you time down the research/writing track.
The following split-page method may be a useful way to help you organise your notes and assist you to develop some of the above skills that are so essential for successful academic study.
Make sure that you note down the appropriate bibliographic details. They may include the author's surname and initial, the title of book/ article, the title of the journal, the publisher, the place of publication, the page numbers of the article, internet site details, including the web address etc. It is also a good idea to include the library call number so that you can easily relocate the text. You never know when you have to review parts of the text again.
Divide your page into 3 columns.
The first column should be for your notes based on the reading. This section may include paraphrased information from the original text, (paraphrasing means to rewrite somebody else's ideas in your own words); or direct quotes. Ultimately, most of your notemaking should paraphrase or summarise the key ideas of the author(s). Use direct quotes sparingly in assignments and only in situations where they seem to be the most appropriate way of expressing something.
The second column is used for the page number on which you have found a particular piece of information. This is essential for two reasons. Firstly, when directly quoting you must acknowledge the page number(s) on which you located information. Secondly, if you need to clarify your notes, you need to be able to quickly locate the information.
The third column, which is vital in effective notemaking, is used for your comments on the text.
Your comments are important because this is where you relate what you are reading to the various ideas that you are trying to develop, you acknowledge similarities and differences with other authors, or you identify where your knowledge needs further developing.
This is the section that:
Remember to use a new page for each new reading.
It is a good idea to include the library call number.
Comments on Information
In this section, you may write anything that indicates your response to the reading. The questions included in the template are a guide only.
You do not have to have a response to every paraphrase or quote but it is important to think about why you are including information and to jot down any reasons that seem pertinent to why you are reading the text.
Summaries of important information
Summaries of Important Information
Paraphrases (i.e. rewriting somebody else's ideas in your own words) and summaries should form the bulk of the information in this section.
When using a direct quote, ensure that you put inverted commas around the quote, or write it in a different colour, to remind you that it is somebody else's words copied verbatim (word for word).
|Always include the page number||
How does this information relate to other texts that I have read?
What important links can be made to the topic/ other research?
How is the information relevant? (If it isn't relevant, should I be pursuing it at this time?)
Does the author say anything new or particularly interesting?
Is there anything that I don't understand that I need to follow up?
Is the author saying anything that I disagree with and why do I disagree with it?
Is the author saying anything that contradicts the findings/opinions of other authors?
What conclusions can you make from the points being made?