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Plagiarism tutorial: Annotation/Note-taking

Plagiarism Tutorial

Annotation and taking notes

When you begin a research project, whether it will be a written paper, oral presentation or other type of project, you need to have a dependable method for keeping track of your information sources. Here are just a few options:

  • Use paper notecards, putting one piece of information on each card, accompanied by the bibliographic information.
  • Open a Google doc and write down each piece of information, followed by information about the source.
  • Print out or make a copy of your source, then circle or underline key phrases or ideas, or use a highlighter to emphasize important points. Write your own comments and reactions in the margin. Record the bibliographic information on that copy.
  • Write down your information and sources on sheets of paper,, kept in a notebook or binder
  • Use the notecard feature in Noodlebib
  • Keep all of your sources and annotations in an Excel spreadsheet

Whatever you do, choose a system, keep it very well organized, and stick to it. Don't change methods in the middle of a project as you might lose some of your research and need to start over. Be very sure to record source information so you don't have to go back later to find that information.


Here are some note-taking tips to avoid plagiarism:

  • Make sure to include the source information for every piece of information you write down. It is often very difficult to re-create a search to find a source. You need that information for your bibliography so you might as well write it down now. You can format it properly later, when you write your bibliography.
  • Don't write down or copy/paste any more than you need to. You will understand the material better, and will have less chance of plagiarizing, if you read the information, look away from the source, and write the information in your own words. You still need to indicate that the ideas are not your own.
  • If you choose to copy/paste blocks of text or quotes from individuals while taking notes, be sure to clearly mark them as quotes. Put them inside quotation marks, mark them with a large Q, put them in bold font - whatever will remind you that you need to go back and paraphrase. Noodlebib offers a note-taking system that clearly separates quotes from paraphrases so you don't make a mistake.
  • Your notes should include information you have taken from sources (quotes or paraphrases) and thoughts you have while doing your research. Mark these clearly, using an S or Q for information that came from a source, or MINE to indicate your own thoughts.

Additional resources

Questions? Comments?

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