What are worksheets and how are they used in academic and research contexts?
Throughout our lives we are probably going to have to conduct more than one investigation of some kind. Whether at work or academic level, it is common for us to have to work with high levels of information to document ourselves in order to carry out a task, or that we must carry out some complex action or project.
In this sense, it is likely that it will be useful to be able to recover key ideas or concepts. Thus, it would not be a bad idea to generate some kind of brief document in which we can synthesize the information or idea that we are working on in a quick and easily accessible way. One way to do this is to prepare worksheets, a concept in which we are going to deepen along these lines.
What is a job ticket?
A worksheet is understood to be a highly organized and short document in which the most relevant information of a project or research is summarized, in order to keep a record of the key elements for understanding said study or the documents generated .
They are usually made in small rectangular cardboard, although nowadays it is also very common to find them in digital format.
The use of worksheets makes it possible to collect information and, in turn, relate the most important concepts and ideas regarding the subject under discussion, expressed clearly and concisely and in such a way that it can be quickly retrieved in times of need. It is also useful for maintaining order in the presentation of information.
It is important to bear in mind that in each worksheet only one main idea is expressed: it is not about presenting all the research, but rather a summary, idea or relationship of the most necessary concepts for the user. In fact, it is common to find that numerous files are used for the same job or project, depending on what type of information we want to retrieve later.
What is it for?
The use of this type of files can obey multiple objectives: they are common in public exhibitions, lectures and communications as well as in order to maintain an order of the main ideas in reports, databases and in the elaboration of extensive documents.
Finally, they are useful even when studying for an exam, since the synthesis of the information allows a quick review of the main ideas and the relationship between them of the material studied.
Parts and main structure
Preparing a worksheet is simple, and the truth is that they can be carried out in different ways, but as a general rule a basic structure is followed that includes the following sections.
1. Author and date of publication
If the file in question is part of a work, research, paper or document, the citation of the authors of the work must be put first.
The way to do it is identical to when we cite an author or authors in an investigation: surname and initial, separated by a comma and if there are several also separated by commas. Subsequently, the year of publication is added in parentheses, on the same line.
This aspect may seem irrelevant, but the truth is that it is convenient to know where the information comes from and in case of working with multiple documents it may be easier to locate where we have started to make the file.
Placed below the previous point, the title is one of the main parts of the job card. It is necessary that it allows us to see quickly and clearly the topic we are dealing with, encompassing the ideas that are going to be worked on.
Generally it will be the title of the article or book chapter from which we start, although it can also be a title chosen by us. This section, together with the previous one, would form the heading of the file.
The body or content of the file is the set of information that we collect: the summary, the list of ideas or the conclusion drawn from the investigation.
It must be clear and understandable, so that we do not need to resort to other elements or information beyond what is present on the card. It can be both a writing and an outline, or even pictorial elements.
4. Other data / references
It should be added the publisher or magazine where it was published, the city and the pages where information is extracted. The key references of the research should also be incorporated, in this case at the bottom of the file (especially in summary or synthesis files). Sometimes the reason for which the file in question is made is also added.
Types of job tickets
So far we have talked about what a job ticket is and what parts (usually) has. However, not all worksheets are used for the same purpose or have the same contents: there are different types of these documents. Among the most common we can find the following.
1. Textual files
A simple type of worksheet in which only a phrase or a short fragment of the original work from which we started is transcribed, with the same language and words as in the original. The fragment that interests us is copied, between quotation marks.
2. Paraphrase sheets
This type of worksheet is very similar to the previous one, except that in this case instead of literally transcribing a fragment of the text we try to express what we have understood about it in our own words.
3. Summary / synthesis sheets
This type of file is characterized by being produced in order to obtain a brief summary of the article, research, book or chapter that is being analyzed. It is about being able to understand in a general way what that investigated or analyzed is about.
First the central ideas have to be put and then the secondary ones that are linked to this and / or examples. Technically, the summary card basically looks for the key ideas while the summary cards try to offer a shorter version of the entire text, but in broad strokes they are used in the same way.
4. Analysis sheet
As in the paraphrase sheet, in this case we also work through our own words what we have understood. However, the content is not a reflection of the work we started from, but our personal analysis or conclusions about it.
It is not necessary to include in this case the studies from which we start, since the content of the card is exclusively our elaboration.
5. Terminology table tabs
The content of these files is a table in which the main concepts of the analyzed text are defined.
6. Question-problem sheets
In this type of worksheet, the body intends to serve as a point at which to elaborate and answer the questions or problems that the research has allowed to unravel.
7. Field research sheets
Sometimes we will want to make a card that does not speak of information present in texts, but perhaps the product of an experiment designed by ourselves or an interview. In this case we will use the field research file, in which we will summarize the information from the results of the experiment or the interview carried out.
In this type of card in the header we should include the person interviewed, the date of the interview / experiment and the point at which this information will be used.
8. Mixed chips
It is a combination of some of the above. Probably one of the most common is that it includes a summary or synthesis and analysis, or the textual record and the paraphrase or analysis.
- López O., K. How to prepare worksheets. [Online] Available at: http://profecarlostextos.tripod.com/fichas_trabajo.html.
- Online Latin American Technological University. Worksheets. [On-line]. Available at: http://gc.initelabs.com/recursos/files/r162r/w18147w/Evidencia_Ficha%20de%20trabajo.pdf.