Thursday, June 15, 2006

[THO] Reading Strategy

Last semester I realized just how ineffective my reading strategy was. The problem is that the more I read the more I have trouble remembering where I read something. This was very apparent when I was preparing a biographical essay on Count Nicholas Zinzendorf. I had a lot of sources and ended up reading, re-reading and often re-re-reading them to find that one piece of information I knew I had read somewhere. I am convinced my paper suffered for this, even though I did get a good mark on it.

I need a plan.

I want to work on a new strategy this summer. I need to not be tied to dragging my laptop with me as I plan on bussing to school this year for the extra reading time. So it has to be in a notebook. I've done scraps of paper, writing in the book, highlighters, sticky notes, etc. But I need something comprehensive and that I can begin practicing with everything I read so that I can use the material easier as my courses advance. I think this is going to be indespensible when I start graduate work.

So here is where I would love some suggestions. What do you do when you read a book? How do you make sure you aren't wasting your time getting ready to re-read massive portions of key texts? Is there a secret technique you are willing to share with me and my readers? I am hoping to work this out over the summer as I get ready for the fall semester.

Thanks in advance!


Patrik said...

Post-it notes. Whenever you read something interesting, stick on in the margin so you'll find it later. You can mark it with a few word summary to be even more efficient.

Kenny said...

I've used post-its, and they're good. The alternative, used by many a noble predecessor, is a notebook. I write the page and the first few words of an important part, and then I can add commentary for what drew my attention to it. It's helpful for remembering why you thought something was important or noteworthy. But that's just my approach. I often type these out at a later date too, to make it that much easier come essay writing time.

Paul W said...

Hi Frank,

Patrik beat me to the draw with his advice here: post-it-notes. Do write yourself with ummary of your point on them. You could have a multi-coloured post-it-note system, as I did for different chapters of my thesis.

Alternatively, you could use bibliographic software like EndNote and note in one of the fields of a bibliographic reference individual pages or sections which particularly catch your eye. This method even allows you to type out a full quote for reference later.

One of Freedom said...

I used book darts in the past, but my main issue was reading several 200+ volume texts and trying to remember where something was that you wanted to work with later. I think I do need to do something like stickies though. I do want to work out a notebook system, maybe in tandem with stickies, but I just don't know what is the most important thing to note. Kenny has a great suggestion there, I'm going to try that one.

Paul I've done software in the past and it works but it is a lot of overhead. I want something that lets me read in odd places. I'll likely transfer my notes to computer at some point anyway.

Thanks for the suggestions, any more people might have. The holy grail of researching is likely still out there. :-)