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Taking useful notes

Take useful notes as you read

Keep a note of everything that you read. And keep accurate references!

I have this great quote, it really encapsulates what I'm saying and in such a nice way but I cannot remember where I found it.It was some time towards the start of my degree when I read this. I have been searching now for weeks, but I have not been able to trace who the author is or where I found it. This is terribly annoying and frustrating, and such a huge waste of time.
PhD student

If you find a great quotation, keep a note of the author, title and page numbers! Remember, copy a quotation accurately! And be sure to keep it in inverted commas so that you are certain at a later time that it is the writer's words and not your own.

If you make careful notes as you read:

  • It will help you pay attention, and really focus on the text.
  • It will help you recall what you have read
  • It will help you to start organising your reading, managing the material, and arranging your thoughts.

Some reading and note taking tips:

  • When you read a book or an article, look for the main idea(s) that the writer is conveying.
  • Look for topic sentences to help you find the main theme.
  • Make a practice of writing down the writer's main idea or premise in your own words, just one or two sentences, on a card or computer equivalent, that also identifies the source, author, title, publication date and place and page numbers if applicable. If this work seems to have more relevance to your project you may like to make a few more detailed notes, in one or two sentences about the writer's purpose, the approach adopted and your critical appraisal of the work.
  • Often, the title and the introduction will provide the main idea and the writer's purpose.
  • If you are systematic and consistent in the way you create and keep your notes, you will develop a very valuable personal resource. The activity of making notes will help you focus on the features that you want to appreciate in the reading.

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