Evaluating Information in the Research Process: Step 7: Integrate Notes and Ideas

Step 7: Integrate notes and ideas

stepStep 7: Integrate Notes and Ideas

Critically Reflect on Readings

Our culture emphasizes action, and we often put a high priority on “getting the job done.” We do not often allow time to reflect. But reflection is well worth the time, because it can yield valuable insights. 

For each key source, think about 

  • the frame of reference or set of assumptions the source is working from 
  • the arguments and logic the source uses
  • your reactions to what you read

Reflection involves questioning assumptions, including our own. This requires courage and humility, because it includes an awareness that our own perspective is limited and that we may be wrong. 

As Adler and Van Doren point out, you must be able to understand something before you can judge it fairly (1972, pp. 142-143). If you prematurely judge something, you may be rejecting something not on its merits, but based on your on prejudices. You may also prevent yourself from learning something new. 

You may or may not change your opinion, but reflection will help you develop your own ideas. You are building a strong basis for developing an original piece of work that draws on several perspectives. 

  • Write down thoughts that arise out of your critical reflection about each key source. 

Organize notes and ideas

Compare the information and ideas of different sources as they relate to your topic. In what different ways do the sources address the questions you asked yourself about your topic? 

See what themes emerge from your comparisons, and organize your notes around these themes or issues. This organization is yours. It will make your research unique and thus valuable. 

Once again, write down any good ideas that occur to you as you work. Organize these notes along with your other notes, wherever you are collecting them. 

Outcomes for Step 7: Integrate Notes and Ideas 

  • Notes from critical reflection  
  • Source notes organized around themes or issues

NEXT: Step 8, Write and Present Findings

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