As a graduate student it is vital to take your time and enjoy reading texts, journals, books, and popular articles in a wide variety of fields. One of the big challenges that can quickly emerge is a desire to take in everything. This is a formula for difficulties, especially when crunch time hits and you get that eagerness to “just get it done.”
This is an unfortunate, especially when you’re like me and want to have fun learning! Several strategies can assist you in overcoming these hurdles.
The first is remember to read with a purpose. Before you sit down to an article, remember to ask yourself why you are reading, is it to learn something new? Expand your understanding of the field? Answer a particular research question? Having an idea to begin with is a great start.
Secondly, you might find that taking brief notes along the way or in the margins can help you out. If you prefer using digital tools, I love Mendeley, a great reference organizer that works on iOS and Android as well as desktops, and has some excellent note taking tools. The key here is taking brief notes, do not let your reflections get in the way of the reading flow unless some section really grabs you. You can always mark it down and come back for a review.
A third strategy is to summarize what you’ve learned after going through one or several articles. This is a key to academic writing. In noting what you’re learned and why it is important to your arguments, you will find that when it comes time to synthesize, you will have an excellent resource to draw on. This can provide particular benefit if you read several texts at once, and notice patterns that might help you later on.
Here are 5 additional resources with excellently detailed follow-ups to help you discover further methods for reading and writing well for academia:
- Reading Strategies | Academic Success Center | Oregon State University
- Academic Reading Strategies – The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill
- 7 Critical Reading Strategies – Salisbury University
- Managing Academic Reading – University of Reading
- Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss <- a bonus for those of you interested in quickening your pace (not the same as better understanding!) through a great life-hacking method.