Organizing your research

One of the easiest ways to avoid unintentional plagiarism, effectively enter the scholarly conversation, and make writing your research paper easier is to organize your sources. Below are some tips and strategies for organizing your research.

Citation tables

A citation table can help you keep track of parts of sources you think you might be able to use.

  • Create a file (Word or Excel) to keep track of all your potential sources. Insert a table.
  • As you read your source, copy and paste possible quotes into the table.
  • Make sure and provide proper citations for each relevant source you place in your table.
    • Note: Many databases, including Library Search, have built-in citation generators, but always double-check them against a format guide because not all generated citations are accurate.
  • Put quotation marks around quotes until you decide whether you want to use it as a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary. You can also paraphrase directly into the table, but be sure to use your own words if you choose to do so.
  • As soon as you place a quote from the table into your paper, make sure and add an in-text citation and place the full citation in the reference section of your paper.
  • Note why that citation stood out to you and what you plan to use it for. You can use these justifications later when outlining or writing your paper. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to use later!

A sample table is provided below.

Citation Quotation Possible use
Pappa, S., Ntella, V., Giannakas, T., Giannakoulis, V. G., Papoutsi, E., & Katsaounou, P. (2020). Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 88, 901–907. “The majority of the HCWs experienced mild symptoms both for depression and anxiety, while moderate and severe symptoms were less common among the participants. In our view this emphasizes the need for early detection and the importance of picking up and effectively treating the milder clinical mood symptoms or sub-threshold syndromes before they evolve to more complex and enduring psychological responses.” This article is a meta-analysis of studies done on the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia in healthcare workers during COVID-19. It suggests interventions and strategies needed for mitigating the high levels found of these 3 conditions. Healthcare workers are severely at risk of burnout due to the pandemic, and personnel psychology is being used here to determine what we can actually do about it. I would like to use this to illustrate how personnel psychology can overlap with other disciplines, in this case medicine and mental health.

Other organizational tips