Recording and Organizing Information
When using the Web for research, you may come across an amazing amount of information about your topic. Once you've weeded through many Web pages and found the information you want, what do you do? If you had a photographic memory, you could simply read the information on each Web page. But chances are, you don't remember everything you read. Therefore, you need to effectively record this information so you can refer back to it later. After recording the information, you also need to organize it. This will make writing your research paper much easier.
Developing a good note-taking system is a valuable skill that will help save you time later. There are a few ways to record the information you find on the Web. You can print out a copy of the Web page and underline or highlight the important information. Or you can use notecards or a notebook to record the information. A good method is to print out the information you find and then take notes on notecards or in a notebook. You will probably find it easier to remember information if you have written it down yourself.
You can follow these steps to help you take good notes:
- Document each source as you work. You can keep a running list in a word processing program on your computer, in a notebook, or on notecards. This list will help you when writing a bibliography or when you need to locate information. Generally you can use this format to cite Web sources: Author name (last name, first name). "Article Title." Site Name. Article date. Organization Name. Date of access . It's very important to include the date that you accessed the Web page. As you may know, information on the Web changes every day, so it's necessary for you to record the date you visited the page. However, if the Web page doesn't have a visible author or other information, just leave that out of your citation.
- Don't write too much! Summarize long passages of information by recording only the most important details and data. Don't record any information that is not relevant to your topic.
- Try to paraphrase. This will help you to better remember the information and to avoid plagiarism. Remember that when you paraphrase you keep the author's main ideas, but state them in your own words.
- If what is written is well said or too difficult to paraphrase, quote the author or organization. You may want to quote the material in your paper.
Organizing Your Information
Now that you've recorded the information you've found on the Web, you need to decide how you will organize this information. How well your final paper makes it point depends on how well you express your argument and how you organize the information you use to support it.
- Review your notes. This will remind you of the information you have to work with.
- Think about different ways you can organize the information. These will often depend on your topic. What is your perspective or point of view on your topic? If you were writing about the giant squid, you might want to compare and contrast the giant squid with the common squid. You could then organize your paper around comparing and contrasting the two types of squid.
- Use graphic organizers. . There are many different kinds of organizers you can use to help you decide how to organize your information-charts, Venn diagrams, word webs, and concept maps to name a few. Ask your teacher to provide you with some examples of graphic organizers. Remember that the kind of graphic organizer you use will depend on the topic of your research. For example, you might use a Venn diagram to help you compare and contrast the information you researched about giant and common squids.
Using an Outline
An outline is like a blueprint. Once you get all the information down in your outline, you can better organize your argument. You can also try to create two outlines that organize the information differently. Then you can compare the two and decide which organization works better.
To create an outline, follow these steps:
- Write your thesis statement at the top of the page.
- List all the main ideas that support your thesis statement. Use Roman numerals to identify each main idea.
- Under each main idea, list two or three supporting ideas or details. Use capital letters to identify each supporting detail.
- Use full and complete sentences when writing your outline. This will help you to clarify your thoughts and express your ideas coherently.
- Use the worksheet to help you record and organize Web information.
Remember that almost anyone can publish information on the Web. Ask yourself this question as you read through the information:
- Is the information you find factual, detailed, and up to date? Check the Web site for the date when the information was updated. If the information is old or there is no date, be careful of using the information unless you can verify it with another source. Also, look out for spelling and other errors. They may reflect the overall accuracy of the information.
Organizing Information Worksheet
Go to the Fact Monster's Web site about the The Great Apes at:
Read the information on this page and on the other links and learn about gorillas.
Review the Web site again and take notes to record the information you find. Use your notebook or notecards to record the information.
Use a sheet of paper to create an outline for the information you have found on the web site. Use the topics of each link as main ideas for your outline. Be sure to include three or four supporting details for each main idea.
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