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Note Taking

Stick to the "three source" rule of thumb. Always use at least three sources for your research.

It's okay to use common phrases in your writing. Teachers understand that you are learning new vocabulary and expressions and that you want to use what you've learned in your reading and research. Improving your note-taking skills is the key to avoiding accidental plagiarism.

Here are some tips to good note-taking that will help you avoid plagiarism:

  1. Take notes after you read. Look away from the source as you take notes to avoid using the same vocabulary and expressions. You can take notes on your computer or on paper. You can even find electronic sticky notes.
  2. Always use more than one source for research. At least three sources is a good rule of thumb.
  3. Write what you would say. Later you can add academic language, such as transitional phrases and revise the vocabulary.
  4. Try to answer the main "wh" questions without looking at the resource.
  5. Write down the full details of your source as soon as you take one note about it.

Practise Note Taking

You can use pages from EnglishClub.com to practise taking notes. Here are some example notes taken from the reading The Disappearing Honey Bee:

My source: "The Disappearing Honey Bee" | EnglishClub.com | May 10, 2009

  • (who) people cause more harm to bees than bees do people
  • (who) many do not know about the disappearing bee
  • (what) bees are very important creatures
  • (what) bee decline leads to food shortage
  • (what) CCD=colony collapse disorder
  • (why) bees are important pollinators
  • (why) cause of bee decline is unknown
  • (where) bee decline is happening in different places around the world
  • (how) people need to donate to research to solve this problem

If you want to use a direct quote, write it down exactly as it appears. In your notes write down the information you need so that you can reference it properly:

"One third of America's food supply is pollinated by the honey bee." http://www.englishclub.com/environment/honeybee-reading.htm

Continue note taking: Now follow the rule of thumb for sources. Research CCD and the decline of the honeybee from at least two other places. After you take more notes, write a paragraph or essay on the topic in your own words. Practise using at least three direct quotes. When you are done, write out your reference page.

Plagiarism Vocabulary >

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