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Bio 112: Course Guide

Tips and techniques for reading and taking notes from scholarly sources

Scholarly publications are crucial in the professional community; they're the major way researchers share their results and participate in the ongoing scholarly conversation with other experts and scholars in the area of study.  They help you see what questions have been asked and which have been answered.  The great thing about the research process is that every time one question is answered, the answer unlocks twice as many new questions. But there are some tricks to reading scholarly publications; the most important thing to understand is that...

Scholarly publications were not intended to be read from beginning to end, one word at a time!

Unless you are a scholar in the subject covered by the material, it is not only acceptable but expected that you'll read some sections carefully and skip others.  See Reading Scholarly Sources for specific tips.

Once you know how to read scholarly writing, you need to understand how to extract and record the information that you need for your thesis or research question.  It is important to use active reading techniques to find the information that you need from the article or book; it is critical that you consistently use a notetaking system that will help you to avoid accidental plagiarism and locate data when you need it.  Read Collecting Scholarly Information to learn some helpful techniques.