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Avoiding Plagiarism

Why keep track of research sources?

Most writing assignments at the college level require a bibliography or reference page as well as in-text citation of sources. It is important to gather the needed information as you work. Sometimes resources are hard to find again, so keeping track of your sources saves time at the end of the process when deadlines are looming.


Things to keep track of in some way:

  • search terms (including combinations and limits you may add)
  • places you search (databases, Library Search, websites)
  • Information about the sources you find:  (author, title, date. publisher, call number, URL, etc.)
  • Information about the quotes or paraphrases you will be using.  (Source identification, page numbers, and context)

Electronic spots to keep track of research

How to keep track of your sources

  • notecards are often a handy way to keep track of research and quotes as you read.
  • a notebook and/or folder for each essay is also an excellent way to gather information as you find it.


Because so many sources are formatted electronically, it often easier to keep the records of research electronically as well.

  • Many find a simple saved document on the desktop to be a sufficient place to keep and collect notes, urls, and search terms.
  • Email documents can also be a handy way to keep information in one place.
  • Portable hard drives are also a great way to keep track of information as you research.
  • Many use a third party web location to keep track of information.  See the box to the left.


Hints and Tricks

  • Most databases have a marking and/or folder feature.  This allows users to output the needed information about the resources in an easy way. The added benefit is that most can output information in your chosen citation format.
  • Screen capture is an option if there is no readily accessible way to output the information. Pressing the [Control] and [Print Screen] buttons simultaneously, will capture a "snapshot" of the desktop.  This can be saved and opened in a word processing file.
  •  Web tagging and capturing programs like those listed, allow users to save URLs and organize them.