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Week 3 – Read

By now you should have developed a mindmap or essay plan and practiced searching for relevant academic materials. This week we will be focusing on reading, particularly in relation to writing your essays.

How to read critically

Once you have decided upon your literature you need to read and take notes so you can incorporate this into your essay in a meaningful way. If it is your own book or a printed article you can highlight and make notes. You can use post it notes to indicate a significant part which is what I usually do...

You should also make notes as you read in a way that is understandable to you even many months later! Keywords can be useful so you can easily identify what the topic relates to and what aspect. For example you might use ‘handwashing’ and ‘technique’. If there is anything you don’t understand whilst you are reading then make a note of the question in the same way and look for the answer later. Alternatively, if it’s not too distracting look the answer up at the time. If it’s a new term then it makes sense to do so straight away so that you fully understand what you are reading. This is particularly helpful for a new or complicated topic for example a research methodology. You can then make fully notes to summarise what you have read and learnt to remind yourself later – don’t think you will always remember!

Task 1 - How to read and make notes

You've already looked at Steps 1 and 2 of our '5 steps to essay success' elearning module. The next step is to work through Step 3: Read and make notes

 Task 2 – Practice your critical reading

  • Read a journal article critically. This could be the article you found in your search from week 2 or something else you have found that you want to explore. If you are struggling to find an article, why not try investigating the case of the disappearing teaspoons? What is the author trying to say? Does their argument persuade you? Reading critically is a tough skill to master so it might take quite a bit of practice. Take a look at the reading critically section of this resource to help you develop these skills.
  • Make notes on the article. This could be written onto the paper, using post-its, highlighting, using a template or a mixture of all of these methods. 
  • Post your thoughts onto the Facebook group, you could share images of your notes or a summary of what you found.
  • Reflect on what you have learnt about reading. How might you practice and develop this skill further?

Dig Deeper

  • Prepare for yourself a note taking template. A simple piece of paper or word document with a heading (your keywords could go here), a main section for long notes, discussion points and questions. Then add a column at the side for reminders and important points to remember.
  • Try watching the videos from the dig deeper section in week 1. Using a note taking system such as Evernote or OneNote could revolutionise your study practice!