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Effective note-taking

Effective note-taking is a skill. Notes must be taken effectively in order to minimise information overload and ensure that important concepts and ideas are not overlooked in favour of more supplementary material.

Develop understanding

In order to take effective notes understanding the material is crucial. The process of taking notes helps to develop comprehension and understanding of the material. Writing down thoughts, ideas and notes helps to deepen understanding and make connections between what reading material and the thesis topic.

Select information

Information presented in academic books and articles may be both relevant and irrelevant to the thesis topic. Information must be sifted and selected for making notes - this involves sorting out the material which is needed from other, less relevant, information which surrounds it.

Recording information

Information must be recorded in such a way that it can be sorted, re-organised and incorporated into chapters of your thesis. This information must include all proper references such as author, title, publisher, date, page numbers and other information.


The important points of each source material must be paraphrased - paraphrasing is the process of taking brief notes which summarise material that has been read. These notes must be as clear and concise as possible - bullet points even. Here, direct quotes can be recorded and followed up with a summary of why the quotes are relevant to the topic. Remember to record the page number in the article/book which corresponds to the sections in your notes. Review your notes to make sure that they are accurate.