Note Taking & Proofreading

Good paraphrasing skills allow a writer to make use of source material in a fluid and honest way. However, proper note taking and careful proofreading, which come before and after the writing, can be just as important for producing high-quality and accurately-attributed scholarship. When taking notes, do not copy directly from a source unless you intend to quote that source directly. Rather, read carefully, take time to think, and then write down, in your own words, the main ideas of what you have read. Of course, be sure to note the source for proper citation. These notes will then become the basis of your summary. Skipping the note taking step and paraphrasing directly from a source into a draft of your work not only limits your ability to think through the ideas for yourself but also increases the likelihood that you will commit negligent plagiarism. It is perhaps best to view note taking as an opportunity to develop and organize your own ideas.

Proofreading, like note taking, is a vital step in the writing process that students too often skip. Proofreading offers the opportunity to check your work for errors of spelling and punctuation as well as overall fluidity of style and coherence of argument. It is also the time to verify all references and citations. Do not, however, wait until proofreading to include citations. Citations should be included in the first draft. It is simply too easy to omit a reference accidentally and then forget the source of a fact, quotation, or paraphrase.