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Organizing Your Research

Research Note Cards

You may have used Research Note Cards in the past to help your organize information for a research paper. Research Note Cards have you write out quotes or paraphrased information on a note card and include information such as the topic of the source and where you found the source.

There are five parts to Research Note Cards:

  • Part 1: Topic (Front of Card)
    • This is going to be the main idea from your research assignment that your quote will connect to. Creating and organizing your information will make it easier to focus your research and complete your assignment.
  • Part 2: Source (Front of Card)
    • This will be the name of the source that your information is from.
  • Part 3: Quote or paraphrased information (Front of Card)
    • This will be either the quote or your paraphrased sentence(s) from the source. What evidence in this source did you find that will support your thesis statement?
  • Part 4: Page Number (Front of Card)
    • This is the page number that you found the quote on. If your source does not have page numbers (like an internet source)you can either leave this blank of include the section of the online source that you found this information in.
  • Part 5: Full Citation (Back of Card)
    • Include the complete citation for your source on the back of the note card.

*Note: It is important to only put one quote or paraphrase per note card.

Sample research note cards


In the top left corner of the note card is the topic that the quote relates to in the research paper.

Underneath the topic in the top left corner of the note card is an abbreviated name of the source this quote came from.

In the center of the note card is the quote/paraphrased information from the source.

In the bottom right corner of the note card is the page number the information came from.


On the back of the note card is the full citation for the source.

*Note: Keep in mind, your note card might not be organized the exact same way as the example. That is okay, as long as you make sure you have all the information needed listed on the note card.

Because the quotes and paraphrases are on their own note card, you can group and reorder them in the way you want them to appear in your research paper.

  1. Use the topic at the top of each note card to group cards by subject.
  2. Put the groups in the order they should appear in your paper to support your thesis.
  3. Within each group of note cards, order the note cards in the way they'll appear in each paragraph of your paper.
  4. Think about the order information needs to be presented in order to build a case for your thesis.

Once everything is organized by topic and in order, you will have created a map or guide to follow when writing your paper. It may also allow you to spot holes in your reasoning or evidence -- you can then return to your sources (or find additional sources) to fill in the needed information.


Work Cited

"The Note Card System." Gallaudet University, 2021,