How To Take Notes For Research Paper

How To Take Notes For Research Paper 2

I hope to present a cheerful and fun way to learn taking notes for research as opposed to the monotonous, usual advice. Researching can be demanding and challenging over an extended time, however, we can mitigate this by studying and following certain guidelines to writing a research paper; And taking notes over the course of research is definitely a practical and constructive skill we should develop. 

A modern guide: How to take notes for research?

  • Techniques: Divide-And-Conquer over time mindset approach and Reverse Engineer Methodology: research for usefulness first
  • Main core research
  • Research template with a short example (optional)
  • Note, research, and proofreading resources 

One clear advantage to writing a research paper: It helps one gain the experience of doing a research, and this can be valuable skill to acquire going forward in various life careers that involves seeking and writing down factual information. Whether you are a blogger, journalist or marketing analyst, knowing how to conduct and present a proper research can be a deterministic factor in one’s academic and occupation capability.

Divide and Conquer over time

I learned from a lecturer to write consistently over time and you will have a final project book by the time of your final project submission. I hope to offer a slightly different perspective of looking: Break down what you can do over time on your research paper by taking notes on your writings and methods conducted. (Divide-And-Conquer is also covered here: How To Take Notes For Computer Science). You may re-write these notes later into the proper documentation style. The plan over the days, weeks and months what and how to do the tasks leading up to your final document for submission or publication. 

For example:

  • Days – Collect important emails and references for inserts. Research and take 2-5 notes. Write documentation on weekends.
  • Weeks – Conduct experiments, trials & tests, and follow-ups (and waiting for) for the research you designed, record the actions taken, results and change the variables for todos (next actions) if necessary. 
  • Months – Last 3-4 days before the new month, finish up compiling and writing the chapter or 2 subheadings.

Good Till Date can be a good template for you to insert your research notes into the calendar section of months and days, and transferred over to the project section when ready. Aim to write or act on a progressive step on most days so you can be keep track of your research regularity. This free template has Inbox, Next Actions, Waiting For, Projects, Calendar, Someday/Maybe, References sections ready for your daily use. Alternatively, you can create a similar template in Evernote or just continue with Gingkoapp while regularly downloading a HTML format and save it into Evernote as a backup.

Gingkoapp’s Good Till Date free template. You may still create your own similar template elsewhere with this structure.

Reverse Engineer Methodology: Research For Usefulness First.

First, spend some time to choose a good topic, fun and lovable one if possible. The longevity of research and its afterlife depends on the vested interests of its creator and contributors. Start looking for information and learning as much as possible first with the intentional purpose of bringing benefits to the public. Search and read up about the relevant works and studies done. Take notes and weigh the usefulness for various research topics. Spend some hours or days to ensure you pick the best possible research topic that others may benefit from.

Secondly, from here next on, I ask you to differ from the conventional, think over and take notes on how to apply for solutions and implementation uses. 

For example, you are doing a research study on Matcha. Then do not just stop at 137 times more potency in comparison. What if you launch a small Matcha import and repackaging business while providing related general information of tests for quality, implementation, its sales & testimonials as well. Why? Usefulness! Which do you think is more valuable and which would consumers and readers prefer – just a research paper or with additional commercial related information and even the affordable actual product on their doorstep? Consider dropping and changing your research if there is no applicable benefits to anyone at all. 

Third, form an argument or propose a solid idea based on the justifiable supports and tests performed. Ponder the possible logical causes, factors, and conditions for valid arguments and points. With all points considered as supports, form a most probable main idea or hypothesis. It is also possible to change your statement idea or make some adjustments after you learned more.

Core Method Of Research:

Fourth, conduct, and document extensively your experiments and studies.

This is what your main research information is about. Consider what are the different possible ways you can carry out the tests and experiments. It is important to provide extensive details so your reader can understand what was done, the limitations and the potential of this research. Graphs, tables, and statistics derived will support your research statement. The more relevant details you provide, the better will be your research paper. It reflects the deliberation and focus of thoughts and efforts in this particular endeavor.

Questions to ask and note:

  1. Who are going to perform these experiments on who or what? Provide details to these people, their characteristics, groups, gender and everything related.
  2. Where are these conducted and what are the conditions for these experiments? Are they in a controlled environment? Would you expect the same results from another setting?
  3. When are these experiments conducted? Are these timing important in the context of your research? The time of day, and month of the year and the age groups of your subjects can make a difference.
  4. Why do these experiments work and to what purpose, and the extent to which the results will hold? Justify with stength the merits of the reasons for these experiments.
  5. How are these experiments conducted? This is the most important, along with the benefits of your research. How, as in the details of the steps taken to carry out the tests, and which are constants and which are variables. How many phases of testing is there? Think of as many ways and types of experiments you can conduct and choose the best ones. What is your plan if this goes in the direction you expect, or not? How robust is the testing methodology? Should it fail, what are your contingencies? Can you change your main research statement to reflect a better one?
  6. How do you take and record notes and data? Are these recording activities consistent across the subjects and experiments? Is the recording medium effective for all members? Can these records be tampered with? How to ensure accurate records of data? Notes are not taken just here, but for the whole research paper so it is imperative to keep organised and standardised the ways of taking notes to be consistently effective. Serious research may be part of a project that requires much effort and records of informational notes. We may have to make multiple improvements to our drafts before we have a satisfactory work for publication. So be prepared to make several versions of your draft and include the names of contributors who made original and substantial additions to your work. For example, you may decide to use GitHub’s version control for your own updates, backup and also records when and what was done by other members.
On a side note, did you miss this post?   One Sensible Way To Take Notes Effectively!

The more questions you asked and answered will reflect the amount of ground you covered for your research. Perhaps you can keep a record of your notes in questions and answers format under appendices. A useful and captivating topic, together with an excellent research should provide for a more successful paper than not.

Fifth, the conclusion should summarise your report in a clear and objective fashion. This is important as well because I believe there are those like myself, we go straight for conclusions to understand the summary of benefits. So keep your conclusion in general human readable format with lesser technicalities if possible. The conclusion should not be shorter than the blurb or abstract and yet provide more useful information without overwhelming the reader. 

Sixth, please include appendices, references, citations, figures, and give credits whenever appropriate. 

Important Tip: How to make your research paper interesting and stand out? Design (Canva or Fiverr) a good, suitable image that portrays the benefit of your research on the front cover along with a blurb if appropriate. Highlight applications and points of useful findings in your blurb. I observe researchers may tend to neglect the marketing and practical aspects of their papers, and understandably so given their academic focus instead. However, pure academics and educators might have to change and adapt in this millennial generation with proactive approaches to useful inventions and practical marketability. 

For example: Share solutions on CodePen, list out benefits in websites and Pinterest, look for authentic testimonials are reviews, design and manufacture physical & 3D models, create prototypes, test-bedding, and roll out pioneer solutions.

Research Paper Template With ExampleThe Case Of Cat Cuteness
And The Benefits
Title and abstract.
(Optional: Cover image and back blurb)

Abstract: Brief description. Other details may include a citation (with authors’ names), editors, dates received & accepted & published, copyright, funding, and competing interests. Example of paper format here.

Cats are so cute it’s priceless! Understand cats, their cuteness, and more – Read this research paper for tips…
Citation: Last_name F (2019) The Case Of Cat Cuteness And The Benefits. Https://…
Main statement, ideas, and potential* Cats and their cuteness can be one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. The tender closeness and sheer, subtle beauty is indescribable in the actual experience of a cat-human love bond.

* Uses as in helping both cats and humans find solace and comfort in each other. More in section of conclusion.
Table of Content1. Introduction and the reason for this research
2. History
3. Benefits
4. The art and science of cat cuteness
5. Experiments or studies conducted
6. Conclusion
7. Acknowledgements and others
ConclusionA summary of your theory with a strong finish and the applications & uses for your research.

Uses and applications:
1. Create a group that rescues cats.
2. Web service that match elderly people who needs companionship
3. Web service that lets people video screen and talk to their pets via live IP while in office.
Acknowledgment, reference list, tables, figures & statistics, and resourcesAcknowledgments

Reference List
* Provide bibliography as shown below by Zotero example


Figures And Statistics

Appendices (for additional content, including citations)
1. Appendix A
2. Appendix B
3. Read more on appendix here

More Resources
* Books e.g. A street cat named Bob.
* Cat calendar
* Board games: Sequence Cats Game
Chapters and sub-headings. Includes experiments, case studies, tests, in-text citations (used to substantiate this research)Example chapters and subheadings include:
* Cats and their roles in ancient history e.g. Egypt, Greek
* Health and psychological benefits of having a cat
* Why are cats so cute?
* Core Method Of Research (Main Research Body), includes extensive details of the studies and experiments carried out: Who and what cats participated, what tools are used, how are experiments conducted, how are data collected. This research part can be detailed documentation of methods and studies you carried out personally or with other team members to prove your point. E.g. details of men and women participants. Long-hair vs short-hair cats. Observation records of cats’ different characteristics and temperaments on humans. Equipment and measured heart rate, blood pressure, and other longer-term benefits reports, etc.

For example, other related research studies conducted and article support (full citations appended to references list)

1. Study of cute and cuddly animals & human’s therapeutic benefits on children by (Fawcett & Gullone, 2001)
2. Cute images for attention focus and careful behavior (Nittono, Fukushima, Yano, Moriya, 2012)
3. 10 scientific benefits for cat owner article

You may view and copy for your own use the above template here.

Note, research, and proofreading resources

A Gingkoapp note may contain a link to an Evernote for expansion of ideas and more. A unique hashtag can be created to distinctly identify the same note for Gingkoapp and Evernote. Or just use Evernote to take notes and document your research paper and collaborate by inviting others (please read Top 17 Ways How To Take Notes For Sharing for more). 

For a collection of references collected into Zotero, one can easily create a bibliography or generate a report for items selected. 

Example of bibliography generated by Zotero from references collected

Researchers can push content to Github with version control. This can be particularly useful when security or record of changes across different members is a valid issue.

Other research resources include Google scholar search, Google Trends,  public libraries, Wikipedia and Amazon books. Proofreaders can help correct mistakes i.e Grammarly to scan for possible grammar mistakes. Get an online research assistant if you need one e.g. Upwork virtual research assistants.


When we research, by definition is to investigate systematically. The fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes’ methods may be an example. Perhaps he looked for anything out of the ordinary first, then he scanned from head to toe for any revealing signs, form possible theories about his or her background and what may have happened before examining the details and conduct tests to validate and support. The point is there should be a methodical way to establish facts and draw new conclusions. Even if the research paper is as short as one page, but delivers the facts and new findings upon applying a logical and systematic way of analysis, wouldn’t you agree it is still a valid research paper? Research is about seeking for truth in a logically scientific way. Whichever ways we choose to research, we can take notes unless we have a good memory or the subject-matter is too brief. One may follow a research paper template to get started quickly and start revising, updating, and proofreading before submission.

Research not only in the chosen topic but spend time researching what and which topic before even starting the research paper. Why is this important? Researching and putting in hundreds of hours of work into research just to know (which you could have known earlier) that there are no clear benefits and interest in this topic at all is ineffective. For example, you could have written the longest and best research paper on a specific topic but no one is interested in that at all, so it just goes into the archive cabinet of the academic museum. However, when you wrote a short and uniquely useful article that you share on the internet, garners some interest and actually benefit others for years and even generations to come, which would you think is more valuable? The other example would be making a film: Even if your films are not epic with 3D special effects, wouldn’t you say it has more value by invoking emotional tears of compassion in your audience? The point is: You want to research to make sure your topic is of interest and benefit to someone or some people before embarking on it. And a way of doing this is to ask around or search the internet first to see if enough people are asking and answering on that topic.

Please remember to make your research work appealing and beneficial so others can easily appreciate the intrinsic value of the research topic. Even if you do not have the time and resources to design the cover, book formats, website (if appropriate) or YouTube videos for sharing your research, you may delegate to others who can for an acceptable rate.

Be kind and good luck in your research endeavors!

Related Questions

Where to publish your research papers?

Where to find research studies and journals?

  1. Google scholar
  2. Researcher – more than 5000 journals

Are there any software tools to help present your research paper to an audience? 

  1. Keynote
  2. Prezi
  3. Evernote Premium Presentation Mode

For presentation mode, click the 3 dots -> present on top-right corner of the note in Evernote.

Is there a book to guide on writing a doctoral thesis?

Please check out Resources