At university, you will be expected to read large amounts of information. Rather than reading texts from start to finish, and use the key parts of a text (shown below) to help you select the most relevant parts.
Search for chapter headings related to your subject in the contents.
The introduction outlines key topics covered. Use it to decide if the source will be useful. In journal articles, read the abstract (which gives a summary of the entire piece) and the introduction.
Read the beginnings of chapters and first sentences of paragraphs to gain miniature overviews.
Visuals, headings and subheadings also give clues about content.
The conclusion summarises the key findings.
Search for words, names and phrases in the index to identify important pages.
Use Control + F (PC) or Command + F (Mac) to search digital documents.
Steps within reading: SQ3R
Try following the SQ3R sequence to aid reading.
Skim read to gain an overview of the source. Look at areas such as the contents, introduction and index page.
What do I hope to answer?
What key words or phrases will I search for?
How reliable is this source?
Pick a relevant area to read. Start by skim reading to gain a general understanding. Read again in more detail and note-take.
4.Recall & Review
Recap what you have just read.
Check your understanding and the accuracy of your notes. Consider taking further notes.
What to include in notes:
References: always capture the Harvard reference, including the page numbers for books and journals. Consider using an online tool such as Zoterobib.
Questions: make a list of what you hope to answer.
Key information: Arguments, quotations or examples that link to your research.
Your analysis: What does it show? How does it link to your research? How does it relate to other sources?
Next steps: consider further research such as names or areas to look at next.
* Tip: use the critical reading grid below as a prompt.
They can be hand drawn or made digitally with free software such as Xmind.
Start with the main idea in the centre. This could be an image or a word/phrase.
Create branches out from centre.
Write your main ideas as you add these branches.
Make smaller branches (associated ideas) stem from the main ideas.
Use images and symbols to represent ideas.
(Buzan, 2002, pp. 28-31)
4. Condensing information
A research matrix is one way of making sense of large amounts of information.
It is a table that helps you to summarise and compare different sources within your research.
The example below is structured for a classic literature review with sections for reference, summary, evaluation and use.
See the matrix templates in the blue downloadable guide below for more suggestions.
Coles, A. (2012). The transdisciplinary studio. Sternberg Press: Berlin
This book describes what we mean by studio practice through visits and evaluations of various artistic practices and studios as well as conversations and interviews.
Strengths • Studio based research and what it means today Weaknesses • Very text heavy – not great for a visual learner. Perhaps too focused on fine art (though that is the role of the book in fairness)
I will use this to determine my own methodologies around design from a multi-specialist background and to incorporate ideas from sustainable practices in other creative fields to influence my work in menswear.