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Honors Biology Research Paper: Notes

Check for Understanding

I took notes which

__ related directly to my topic

__ answer most of my questions

__ paraphrase or summarize the source

__ are in my own words

__ put quotes around the author's words

__ have citations that I have in my account

Note-Taking Methods

Use the Note Card method.

Use a notebook (single side)

Use a word processor

Use Easybib's Notetaking Feature

Taking Notes

How do I put what I'm reading in my own words?
When you are taking notes, don't write down word-for-word. Don't copy phrases unique to the style of the original author.  Try these tips:

  • Read a paragraph until you feel you understand the content.  Without looking at the original text, write down what you remember.  Then, go back and read the original work to make sure that the words are different but the meaning is the same.
  • For complicated paragraphs, you may want to make a little outline of key points (Main Idea - Sub Idea).
  • Don't simply substitute different words from the original!  You may be changing the entire meaning this way, and it is still considered plagiarism because you are copying the author's sentence structure.

Quotes, Paraphrases, and Summaries
There are three ways of incorporating source material into your writing:

  • Quotations must be identical to the original. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
  • Paraphrasing takes a passage from the source and puts it into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original.
  • Summarizing takes the main idea(s) and puts it into your own words. Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are shorter than a paraphrase and take a broader view of the source material.

From Purdue University's OWL site:

The original passage:
Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

A plagiarized version:
Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

This is a common example of plagiarism. The student just changed certain words.  (Ex: "overuse" is replaced with "use too many.") This is considered plagiarism because the student is using the exact meaning and sentence structure of the author!  The student also did not provide a citation. 

A legitimate paraphrase:
In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

An acceptable summary:
Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

Avoiding Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?
To "plagiarize" is to present someone else's writing or ideas as your own. The most common example is copying something word for word, including phrases that are unique to someone's writing style without quotes. But you also plagiarize when you use someone's ideas without giving them credit. When you don't cite your sources, you tell the audience that YOU came up with these ideas, not the original author or artist.

But I didn't mean to plagiarize!
Students sometimes plagiarize unintentionally. You may know that copying and pasting from the Internet is plagiarism. But plagiarism also includes:
- copying phrases unique to someone's writing style without the use of quotes
- stating ideas and information that were researched, organized, and interpreted by someone else.

Even if you don't use a direct quote, you still need to cite the source. In fact, anything not considered common knowledge, needs a citation.  Rule of thumb: If you didn't know it before you read it, it isn't "common knowledge."

You will use APA format to cite your sources.  This is the standard format for science.  Use to cite.  You need to register with easybib in order to use their APA formatting feature.  When you register, enter the Montytech password to get the school account.