Taking Quality Notes: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

It’s easy to get off-track when taking research notes. You may do a lot of work, filling pages and pages with information, only to realize that you don’t have what you need, and you really don’t understand the topic any better than you did before you started! Remember, the purpose of doing research is to develop a deep understanding of the topic, and to help you formulate and defend your own ideas.


As you do your assignment, constantly check to see if your notes are:

  • Relevant
  • Focused
  • Concise
  • Organized
  • Accurate
  • Honest

There are many different strategies for recording information and ideas in your research notes, including:

  • Summarizing
  • Paraphrasing
  • Quoting
  • Drawing
  • Using a graphic organizer

The kind of information that you will include in your notes will vary, depending on your research need and the type of source you are using. For example, you might record facts and figures from an encyclopedia, but record experts’ ideas and opinions from a journal article. Your note-taking style needs to adapt to these different sources and information needs.

What You Need

Find Out More