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How Can I Retain Information From My Sources? - Keeping a Research Log

In order to record and preserve source material and complete bibliographical information, consider keeping a research log as adapted from Bruce Ballenger (The Curious Researcher, 2nd ed. 128-32). A research log can include topic, citation, summary, source notes, and reaction. Here is the format with a sample entry.

Topic: Billy the Kid

Citation: Fulton, Maurice Garland. History of the Lincoln County War. Ed. Robert N. Mullen. Tuscon: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1997.

Summary: The Lincoln County War was essentially a struggle for economic power. The competition for government contracts was often bitter and ruthless. James Dolan's and John Tunstall's competitive struggle led to Tunstall's murder, and the L.C. War began. Billy the Kid was on the side of Tunstall's followers, and it is during this war that his reputation was established. This fully documented history of that war was compiled by Fulton who died while it was in ms. form. The editor prepared it for the press.

Source Notes: "Every detail of the Kid's death was seized upon and read most avidly" (402).

Reaction: Excellent newspaper accounts and personal interviews of events and personalities. Very useful.

Source notes can also include summaries and/or paraphrases of sections of source material, and facts. Be sure to include page number(s) at the end of each entry.