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    hey guys,

    quick q on reading and taking notes on academic articles. I'm finding that when I read them I either take notes on literally everything (almost word for word often) and end up getting bogged down in the details, or if I try to go for the key points/arguments I inevitably end up not fully understanding or skipping over important things. Whichever approach I try, it just feels like I'm not approaching this in the best way and not fully being able to understand and engage with the author's opinions.

    I haven't used them much at all so far in my undergrad degree, but trying to actually do all the reading this year so just figuring out how to get the most out of them. Atm feels a bit like I'm wasting my time, so any tips much appreciated.

    Thanks
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    (Original post by Endless Blue)
    hey guys,

    quick q on reading and taking notes on academic articles. I'm finding that when I read them I either take notes on literally everything (almost word for word often) and end up getting bogged down in the details, or if I try to go for the key points/arguments I inevitably end up not fully understanding or skipping over important things. Whichever approach I try, it just feels like I'm not approaching this in the best way and not fully being able to understand and engage with the author's opinions.

    I haven't used them much at all so far in my undergrad degree, but trying to actually do all the reading this year so just figuring out how to get the most out of them. Atm feels a bit like I'm wasting my time, so any tips much appreciated.

    Thanks
    Try reading them through once first without making any notes. Instead just concentrate on understanding what the argument is and thinking about whether you find it persuasive (and if so, why, and if not, why not). Once you have understood what is being argued and come to your own view on it then you should not have any problem making useful notes.
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    Try reading them through once first without making any notes. Instead just concentrate on understanding what the argument is and thinking about whether you find it persuasive (and if so, why, and if not, why not). Once you have understood what is being argued and come to your own view on it then you should not have any problem making useful notes.
    Agreed. I tend to read through once quickly - sometimes even just reading the headings and the first couple of sentences of each section - and the conclusion - to try and quickly get the gist of the argument and confirm that I actually want/need to read it. (Assuming, of course, the abstract suggests it might be worth reading in the first place.) So it's a bit of skim read. I'll then download a PDF and highlight relevant sections of the article on the PDF. I make handwritten notes at this stage which are really brief - eg P79 deals with state sovereignty - P81 good argument opposing open borders. Etc. I'll then write a quick, brief one or two para summary of the main argument. When I later come back to use the article the notes refer me quickly to the pages and I've highlighted the parts I want there.

    Maybe also worth mentioning that sometimes you might not need/want to read the whole article - maybe only one or parts are relevant to what you're doing. This is where the quick read through first can save a lot of time.
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    Try reading them through once first without making any notes. Instead just concentrate on understanding what the argument is and thinking about whether you find it persuasive (and if so, why, and if not, why not). Once you have understood what is being argued and come to your own view on it then you should not have any problem making useful notes.
    ^^^ this is bad advice

    (Original post by cliffg)
    Agreed. I tend to read through once quickly - sometimes even just reading the headings and the first couple of sentences of each section - and the conclusion - to try and quickly get the gist of the argument and confirm that I actually want/need to read it. (Assuming, of course, the abstract suggests it might be worth reading in the first place.) So it's a bit of skim read. I'll then download a PDF and highlight relevant sections of the article on the PDF. I make handwritten notes at this stage which are really brief - eg P79 deals with state sovereignty - P81 good argument opposing open borders. Etc. I'll then write a quick, brief one or two para summary of the main argument. When I later come back to use the article the notes refer me quickly to the pages and I've highlighted the parts I want there.

    Maybe also worth mentioning that sometimes you might not need/want to read the whole article - maybe only one or parts are relevant to what you're doing. This is where the quick read through first can save a lot of time.
    ^^^ this is quite good advice
    I'd say skim read the abstracts to all the journals you think might be of interest to you, and make a point of those that you think will be important. Then skim read the whole journals, which should give you a good idea of the pages in them that will be worthy of slow reading. Then go back and slow read the pages, that you think are merit of this. Generally speaking it is worth slow reading the abstracts and conclusions/discussions of all of the journals, if you can. But whatever you do, don't try to slow read all of the journals/books you are set. Maybe slow read one or two, that are of interest to you. They is a definite skill to accurate university reading, and the more you do it, the better you will get.
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    (Original post by john2054)
    ^^^ this is bad advice
    Shrug. Worked for me.
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    Shrug. Worked for me.
    What degree did you get, if you mind me asking?
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    (Original post by john2054)
    What degree did you get, if you mind me asking?
    I got a first class undergrad degree at BPP (highest mark in my year), and a distinction in my LLM at UCL (highest mark in the year and highest mark in every module).

    That doesn't mean that you can't do well with other techniques, or that worked for me will necessarily work for someone else.
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    I got a first class undergrad degree at BPP (highest mark in my year), and a distinction in my LLM at UCL (highest mark in the year and highest mark in every module).

    That doesn't mean that you can't do well with other techniques, or that worked for me will necessarily work for someone else.
    I doubt it
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    I got a first class undergrad degree at BPP (highest mark in my year), and a distinction in my LLM at UCL (highest mark in the year and highest mark in every module).

    That doesn't mean that you can't do well with other techniques, or that worked for me will necessarily work for someone else.
    (Original post by john2054)
    I doubt it

    I don't doubt it !

    If you look back through the archives of this sub forum, especially around the 2012/2013 period, you will find numerous, well informed posts, from Forum User, particularly in the area of contract law. I don't think I recall him ever getting the law wrong. Maybe some legal arguments that I might not have fully agreed with but most of the time Forum User hit the nail on the head (and continues to). One person I would prefer not to be facing in legal argument !

    At the end of day, however, we're all saying something similar to the OP in this thread - everyone finds their own way to skim read, note, slow read, or whatever, journal articles.
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    (Original post by cliffg)
    I don't doubt it !

    If you look back through the archives of this sub forum, especially around the 2012/2013 period, you will find numerous, well informed posts, from Forum User, particularly in the area of contract law. I don't think I recall him ever getting the law wrong. Maybe some legal arguments that I might not have fully agreed with but most of the time Forum User hit the nail on the head (and continues to). One person I would prefer not to be facing in legal argument !

    At the end of day, however, we're all saying something similar to the OP in this thread - everyone finds their own way to skim read, note, slow read, or whatever, journal articles.
    thanks for this.
 
 
 
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