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Note taking

There are two main reasons for making notes. Notes can be either a tool for helping you understand and stay focused on the text, or the first part of a specific writing task. Be clear about the purpose of your notes, and try to make them as useful as possible.

If your purpose is to generate ideas, arguments or find evidence and support for a specific writing task, you need to have an organised approach to your notes. List ideas as you read. Keep track of each reference, then arrange and organise the ideas - this could become the basis of your plan.

Read the original text below and the sample notes by Christos.

Original text

'As we embark on the study of dyslexia we find very quickly that it is an intrinsically messy enterprise. There are at least three sets of reasons: the complex requirements for a reading brain; the fact that so many disciplines have been involved in its study; and the perplexing juxtaposition of singular strengths and devastating weaknesses in individuals with dyslexia. The history of dyslexia mirrors this complexity. It also reflects many changes in our intellectual history and in our society over the last 100 years-such as Noam Chomsky's linguistic revolution and the effects of social class on the diagnosis of dyslexia. What's missing, ironically, is a single, universally accepted definition of dyslexia itself.'

Reference: Wolf, M. (2008). Proust and the squid: The story and science of the reading brain. Cambridge: Icon Books, p. 167.


Sample notes:


Reference Page Main ideas Use
Woolfe, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. Cambridge: Icon Books. 167 Wolff reckons researching dyslexia is intrinsically messy for 3 reasons: complexity of human brains when reading; different academic approaches to investigating dyslexia; and dramatic contrast between the abilities and disabilities of dyslexics. Also, the history of research into dyslexia over past two centuries reflects two important intellectual milestones: Chomsky's revolutionary linguistics (note to self: look up this reference - what is this revolution?) and class analysis of disability treatment. Problem is that no-one has clearly defined dyslexia. Excellent introduction to why dyslexia (diagnosis, treatment) remains such a mystery for contemporary neurologists etc. Good intro/background stuff.


Now read the following statements and advise Christos about the quality of his sample notes.

  1. Christos accurately records the reference details of the text.

  2. Christos effectively rewrites the original source material into his own words.

  3. Christos comments on the relevance of the material to his overall research.

  4. The information recorded by Christos is accurate and faithful to the original.

  5. Christos explicitly records any further research or queries that are required.

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