Organizing your research

After you’ve chosen your topic and selected your keywords, you’ll probably begin researching various sources.

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

Citation table

  • Create a file (Word or Excel) to keep track of all your potential sources (this can include popular and scholarly sources).
  • Insert a table
  • As you read your source, copy and paste possible quotes into the right side of the table.
  • Make sure and provide proper citations for each relevant source you place in your table.
    • Note: Many databases, including OneSearch, have built-in citation generators, but always double-check them against a format guide because not all generated citations are accurate.
  • Be careful to put quotation marks around quotes until you decide whether you want to use it as a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary
  • 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. 

Other organizational tips

  • Use citation management software, such as Endnote, Zotero, or Mendeley.
  • Tip: Make an appointment with a librarian for assistance using citation management software 
  • Read through your paper carefully before turning it in
  • Discuss any tricky citations with your instructor prior to the due date

Need additional help with citations?

Visit our additional how-to pages on Citing Sources in MLA Style or Citing Sources in APA Style.