Note-taking and Writing Tips to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism
This video will introduce you to two note-taking techniques and five writing tips to help you avoid accidental plagiarism.
Note-taking and Writing Tips to Avoid Plagiarism
In this video, we will show you two note-taking techniques and five writing tips to help you avoid accidental plagiarism.
When reading, it is important to develop a consistent note-taking system. Here are two strategies for note-taking.
One strategy is a single source sheet, which is a good format to use for detailed note-taking.
[“Single Source – Note-taking Analysis Worksheet” is a one column fillable worksheet in table format. The table has headings such as source information, purpose of the article or study, keywords and/or key search terms, broad topic area and/or themes discussed, and main argument and/or research question(s). Notes are meant to be added in the cell below the headings]
The second strategy is a multiple-source sheet. This table format is helpful for comparing studies. We have linked templates for these tools in the description box below.
[“Multiple Sources – Note-taking Analysis Worksheet” has many of the same headings as the single source worksheet. However, this table is organized with the headings as column headers with multiple empty rows below. Each row is intended to be filled with notes from a specific source]
Customize these templates to collect the information that is most important to you. For example, methods are important in this person’s discipline, so this is one of the most detailed boxes in their single source worksheet.
Another important box in this worksheet is the one-paragraph summary, as it reminds you of the article’s relevance to your own research. Capture the main points from this source here so you won’t have to re-read the whole article again later.
Here is an example of a multiple-source worksheet that has been customized. One key piece of information for this person was the length of the intervention, so they have dedicated one column specifically for capturing this information.
[The multiple source worksheet’s headings have been changed to suit specific research needs. Some examples of the changed headings are research design, sample, intervention goals, and intervention length]
When you are reading, try taking brief notes in your own words and using symbols to indicate patterns, effects, and changes.
Put the original source out of sight before writing notes in your own words.
Never copy and paste text from a source into your notes, unless you enclose the original wording in quotation marks and include reference information and page numbers.
If you don’t keep track of what is a direct quotation and what is your own writing, you may end up pasting quotations from your notes into your final paper. This is a common cause of accidental plagiarism.
Next, let’s talk about five tips for avoiding accidental plagiarism when writing and revising your literature review.
Tip #1: Minimize the use of quotations. Use your own language in most of the paper.
[Thought bubble contains the following: “My thoughts about this topic are…”]
When students use too many quotations, it suggests that they may not understand what they have read.
[Smith (1976) argues “the tendency to perseverate on a favoured topic is commonly associated with AS behaviours” (4). Whereas, Thomas (1984) claims “97% of those displaying AS behaviours obsessed about a particular person of interest” (55). However, Aman suggests “these experiences of obsessive fixations on a favoured topic continues into adulthood” (888).]
Only use quotations when it is important to preserve an author’s original wording.
[Darwin in his famous book On the Origin of Species (1859) wrote “I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification” (page 6).]
In scientific writing, quotations are uncommon and usually limited to definitions and discussion of qualitative research.
Tip #2: Develop your paraphrasing skills.
Ensure you haven’t used more than three words in a row that are the same as those used in your source.
[Source example: “Over 50% of youth in the current study were considered inactive which is consistent with the findings of other studies of Canadian youth using the PAQ-C.33”
Poor paraphrase: “Over 50% of youth in the current study of Alberta youth were seen as physically inactive.”
Good Paraphrase: “A study of Alberta youth showed that over half of all study participants were inactive.”]
However, common phrases, names, or established terminology is not considered plagiarism.
Poor paraphrasing is especially likely if students don’t have a good understanding of what they are reading, or when students are new to paraphrasing.
[Thought bubble contains the following: “I don’t understand what this is saying…”]
For help with paraphrasing, check out the links to library resources in the description box below.
You can also put your paper through plagiarism detection software, such as TurnItIn, if available, to help you detect any accidental plagiarism.
[Ask you professor if you have access]
[Example paper shown in the Turnitin interface with sections highlighted]
Tip #3: Don’t rely too heavily on a single source.
You are more likely to plagiarize if your work is dependent on a single source.
[Thought bubbles appear with the following: “I don’t know what to add.” and “They’ve said it all.”]
Tip #4: Save your notes and rough drafts.
That way, you’ll be able to go back and check where your ideas, phrases, and quotations came from.
Tip #5: Cite as you write.
Don’t tell yourself that you’ll cite your sources later. It’s too easy to forget.
Need more help? Make an appointment with Writing Services at the University of Guelph Library. Visit lib.uoguelph.ca
[To book a writing appointment from the University of Guelph Library website: click on Using the Library in the main menu and select Book Appointments from the dropdown]
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