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Absorbing information

People often highlight information that they want to retain, but the likelihood of you actually remembering what you highlighted 3 days or 3 weeks later is slim. Instead, try a couple of different strategies to help you retain the information from the resources you have collected:

  1. Use keywords to note what you have read. Write the key word for each chunk of information (perhaps a paragraph, or a small grouping of paragraphs) on a sticky note that you attach to the page or in the margin of the page. Then, when you return to the text to figure out the themes of the resource, you can quickly glance through the keywords to see the major ideas in the document. Also, if you need to come back to the document to find a specific theme, all you need to do is look for information with that keyword, rather than re-reading everything. 
  2. When you have read a chunk of text (each person’s chunk is different; it could be a few paragraphs or a section), put the resource away and write out in your own words a summary of the important ideas in what you have just read. Make sure you note where you retrieved the information so that if you need to go back and find the original source, it is quick and easy find. By summarizing the text in your own words, you will make the information personally meaningful to you, and if you decide that you need to paraphrase text for your paper, you will have already done the work.

If you are not fond of sticky notes, then consider using a tool like a citation manager, which can help you store and organize your research electronically.  The next page will explain citation managers in more detail.

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