Read and absorb the information you find
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've collected:
- Use keywords to note what you’ve 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 need to return to the text to figure out the themes of the resource, you can quickly glance through the keywords to help you see the major ideas in the document. Also, if you need to come back to the document to find specific information on a theme, all you need to do is look for information with that keyword, rather than re-reading everything.
- 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’ve 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’s a quick and easy find. By summarizing the text in your own words, you’ll make the information personally meaningful to you, and if you decide that you need to paraphrase text for your paper, you’ll have already done the work.
If you're 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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