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Essay - ATK

Effective reading and note taking

Effective reading

Most information used in essay assignments will come from reading texts: books, journals, reports, research articles, websites, professional guidelines, legislation, or other media. It is important to develop effective reading strategies and research skills in order to be able to locate the information that you need to inform your writing.

You should become familiar with skills such as skimming (reading for gist), scanning (searching for specific information), and intensive reading (detailed understanding). 

In addition you need to be aware of purpose when reading in order to remain on task with answering the specific question you are asked to discuss. It is also important to develop a critical awareness of the text you are reading, so that you can develop a critical perspective in your own writing.

Overview of effective reading

  • Use strategies (skimming, scanning, intensive reading)
  • Be aware of purpose (why am I reading this? What am I looking for?)
  • Develop effective research skills (Key word searches, use of contents pages, read abstracts)
  • Read critically (accuracy, authority, bias, breadth/depth, currency, comparison)

 

Effective note-taking

Reading and note-taking go hand in hand when compiling information for an essay assignment. Not only is note-taking a way of selecting information that is suitable to incorporate into the assignment, but it also helps understanding of the topic and allows the researcher to make connections between the information taken from different sources. In addition, note-taking, paraphrasing and summarizing helps to build the skills necessary to become a more accomplished writer. 


It is important for effective note-taking to include the following elements:

  • Full referencing details, recorded in the Harvard format
  • Paraphrase, summary, or direct quotation of information – use a system to make it clear whether it is in your own words or the words of the author
  • Reflection on the information – how does it relate to your essay / to other thinkers?
  • Evaluation – strengths and weaknesses of the idea