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MHS Library | Taking notes: The why and the how

The way you take notes can help you avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is the using of someone else’s words or ideas, and passing them off as your own. It can happen accidentally, for example, if you are careless in your note-taking. This can mean that you get mixed up over what is an exact quote, and what you have written in your own words; or over what was an idea of your own that you jotted down, or an idea from some text.

A practical way to help you avoid accidentally forgetting to reference someone else’s work, is routinely to record short extracts of text verbatim i.e.: using the exact words of the author, rather than putting the idea into your own words at the point where you are still reading. You will need to put inverted commas (‘xxx’) around the exact quote, and record the page number on which it appears.

This has the advantage that, when you come to use that example in your writing up, you can choose:

  • to use the exact quote in inverted commas, with the reference and page number; or
  • to describe it in your own words, and use the standard reference format, without the page number, to acknowledge that it was someone else’s idea.

 University of Leicester