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Tips for reading from current students


moveslikemacca
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Hi everyone! long time lurker but first time poster.

I just started my phd program and have already been given an overwhelming amount of reading (expectedly). Do any of you current students (or future people who have reading down) have advice for how to get reading done quickly and efficiently? What should I be looking for when I read?

Thanks for any advice!

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The main thing to remember is not to read every single word. Read for key points. Generally speaking, if a book is well constructed, the thesis is in the introduction or first chapter. The other chapters are usually on a topic, which is addressed in the first paragraph of that section. The conclusions sums it all up. Of course, you probably already know this information, but I always read these parts if I am pressed for time. Another good idea is to read book reviews. Read them after you are finished with the book so it won't interfere with your own ideas. If the book is poorly written and you find yourself playing hide and go seek with the thesis, go straight to the book review.

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I apply a speed read in the sections mentioned by CrazyCatLady. I'll read the entire introduction word for word, the entire conclusion word for word, and the intro and conc. paragraphs in each chapter word for word. Outside of that, I'll read the first sentence of each paragraph closely and quickly scan the rest. Seems to work OK for me.

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To add to what others have said, I also take a quick read through the notes and sources afte I read the introduction. I want to see what kind of sources they have used, what languages they have read in, and if I thought it was possible to write the book described in the introduction based on the notes they used. You would be surprised how often you can identify fundamental flaws in a book by learning to compair the promises made in the intro to what is delivered in the notes.

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To add to what others have said, I also take a quick read through the notes and sources afte I read the introduction. I want to see what kind of sources they have used, what languages they have read in, and if I thought it was possible to write the book described in the introduction based on the notes they used. You would be surprised how often you can identify fundamental flaws in a book by learning to compair the promises made in the intro to what is delivered in the notes.

So true. I had one book that deeply disappointed me. I thought the overview was great but then I looked to the back to see what archives the author used. It missed a couple of critical archives. Next thing I did was to put that book down.

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