Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENG: Reading, Writing, & Inquiry

Organizing your research

Now that you've got lots of citations and notes about your research, it's time to make sense of it all. There are many ways you can do this. If you've put all your notes about sources on notecards, you can stick them on a wall in the order you think you'll use them. Using tape or putty will allow you to rearrange them as necessary. You could use a whiteboard to draw a mind map of the how you'll structure your ideas using the sources as the pieces of the puzzle and your research question as the center. You can create a mind map online using a tool like Mindomo. Or you could try a citation manager to create virtual notes and tags on each source of information.

The most important thing is to find a strategy that works for you. Pen and paper might work great now, but as you advance in your field, you may need a technological approach. We subject librarians are here to give you suggestions. Please feel free to reach out to us.

Why do we cite?

Why do we cite? There are many reasons why it is so important to cite the sources you use in your research.

  • You demonstrate to your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information.
  • You avoid plagiarism by quoting the words and ideas of other scholars.
  • You are being a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas.
  • You allow your reader to find the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by using in-text citations or footnotes in combination with a bibliography or works cited list.

Many databases and even Google Scholar include automatic 'Cite' features that convert all of the information about your article into a neat citation but, beware!! Computer-generated citations often contain errors. You must know your citation style well to identify missing or incorrect information in these citations. If you do not know your style well, see below for some style guides that you can borrow from University Library or search IUCAT to find other style guides relevant to your discipline.

Major Citation Styles

Format Discipline
Modern Language Association
American Psychological Association
Social Science
Council of Science Editors
Life Sciences
Physical Sciences
Chicago Manual of Style
Social Sciences

Taking notes helps you avoid plagiarism

You may have heard that taking good notes while you are doing research will help you avoid plagiarism. While that's an excellent point, there's more to it than that. Keeping notes can be a strategy for you to summarize the main points of the author's argument, track gaps where you need to do more research, and keep track of quotations and paraphrases. You'll be creating building blocks that you can construct your paper with later. Remember, if you do paraphrase an author's words you still need to cite them. Check out Step 5 for further help with citations.

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools allow you to keep citations, full-text articles, and other research resources organized in one place. These tools can also be used to format your bibliographies and the citations in your papers according to the appropriate style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) To use these tools, you should be familiar with the target citation style in order to input information correctly and notice any errors in your bibliography. Please contact a subject librarian for further assistance.

End Note

EndNote is software that helps manage citations for bibliographies. Includes an add-in for Microsoft Word. For questions about EndNote, please contact your subject librarian.


Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research. It includes a Microsoft Word plug-in and web importer. For questions about Mendeley, please contact Rachel Hinrichs, the Mendeley specialist librarian, or your subject librarian.


Zotero is a free Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources. It includes an add-in for Microsoft Word. For questions, please contact Ted Polley, the Zotero specialist librarian, or your subject librarian.

University Writing Center

The IUPUI University Writing Center (UWC) is a free service available to all IUPUI students, faculty, and staff, at both the graduate and undergraduate level. It is a place where students can go for help with writing assignments and projects. The UWC offers students the opportunity to work one-on-one with experienced readers and writers.

The UWC offers two convenient locations: Cavanaugh Hall (CA 427) and University Library (UL 2125).

To schedule a tutoring session at either the Cavanaugh Hall location or University Library location, you may telephone the CA location at (317) 274-2049, telephone the UL location at (317) 278-8171, or visit either UWC location. You must provide both your name and your University ID number, at the time you schedule the session.