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You are not expected to read every book and journal on your subject, or even on an individual topic.

elephant button 5 Read with a clear aim and purpose. Decide what you are trying to find out.
elephant button 5 Use academic material that is recent, relevant, reputable and recommended.
elephant button 5 Be strategic and selective with your choices.
Remember... Good note-taking will help you avoid plagiarism.
Survey First, you must select what to read

Briefly examine the titles, indices and chapter headings of books and journals to decide if they contain relevant information.

Skim Having identified useful chapters or articles, quickly look through them to get the gist of their content. Read the opening sentences of each paragraph and ask yourself if they relate to your essay. Select and mark any sections worth returning to later.
Scan Read the sections you’ve selected to find specific information. You can make brief notes but keep the momentum going as you identify and mark the most relevant areas of text.
Intensive reading Now, read and make notes in detail

– Working with the key material you’ve identified, use your own words to write down important points.

– Write your notes as you go along.

– Your notes should be clear, accurate, concise and selective.

– Do not overly rely on quotations or summaries.

Useful strategies

Always record your sources (date, subject, title, lecturer…) as you go along.

Use coloured pens, subtitles, bubble-maps – anything you need to make your notes clear.

Ensure your notes are legible and organised by topic, with titles, so you can find and use them later.

Identify direct quotations with ‘quote marks’ or highlighters to help you avoid plagiarism.

Be critical – noting any pros and cons of authors’ arguments.

If you take notes during a lecture, remember to go back over them afterwards and tidy them up.

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