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How to Read a Journal Article

How to organize your research

Whether you major in Biology or not, it is important to keep your research organized in all subjects you study. Organization is very challenging, but it is important to find a solution that is best for you! Below are some helpful tips that can can get you started...

1. Get background informationHaving an idea of the topic that you are researching is very important not only because it helps you have a better understanding of the subject but it helps you figure out what question you are trying to answer. This is very important before you start getting deeper into your research. 

2. Know your question/end product. What kind of paper are you writing? What is the question you are trying to answer? You can't start researching until you know what you need to look for. 

3. Have a space to store and save your notes. Whether you write all your notes by hand or use a computer, keep all of your research and notes/brainstorming/pre-writing in one place so you have it all available to you at once. 

4. Take notes in your own words. Keep your notes in regular language so you better understand your research notes. Don't rely on writing everything exactly how the book says or large chunks of highlighted text. 

5. Annotate. Take notes alongside text so you can relate ideas to each other. This helps you better understand what you read. 

6. Keep notes for why sources are important. When you take notes while you read, also note why a subject is important for your research. This allows you to easily organize your research and find subjects and sources when you start writing your paper. 

7. Save your research, keep anything that may be useful. Don't trust that you can find an article or book again. The RBC library catalog and all of the databases available to you have options for you to email results to yourself or print them. Keep a document of all the permalinks that lead to everything you find online. You may never know if you'll need an article later.