Citations for Your Bibliography
When researching your subject make sure to note your sources as you go along. This makes creating a bibliography much easier later on (not to mention that it prevents you from accidentally plagiarizing other works). If possible, note your sources in the same format as your (future) bibliography. Again, this will save you time later on as your bibliography will be half-finished by the time you need to write it.
Making the Most of Your Notes
Good note taking skills does not depend solely on knowing what to take notes on, but also understanding how to take notes. Here are a few helpful suggestions:
Keep Different Types of Notes Separate and Distinct
As we noted above, there are different types of notes – notes for you bibliography, notes for your supporting arguments, etc. Try and keep these notes separate and distinct so that you can easily access them later on. For instance, writing your bibliography will be much simpler if you have all your citation notes in one place (as opposed to having to sift through all of your notes to find all of your citations).
Review, Edit and (Re)Organize Again Your Notes
While you take notes you will want to organize them intelligently – that is to say, in a way that will allow you to easily review and utilize your notes later on. Then, once you have finished taking notes, review and analyze them. Try to logically (re)organize your notes (this is easier if you take notes on a computer). At the same time pare down your notes to the most important and valuable information.
By properly organizing and editing your notes you will make it much easier to produce a quality outline and first draft of your paper. For this reason you shouldn’t be worried about taking too many notes the first time through (so long as you do not go overboard and write everything down as a note). The first time through your goal is to note any and everything that may be of assistance to your note taking goals (see above). The review process is then designed to turn those notes into a powerful resource tool for your paper.