How to read an article/any type of secondary literature

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Each reader has her own reading style and the following are tips. You might found other ways of reading more profitable. What is important is that you find your own rhythm and tricks to keep on track.

v Take down the full reference for your bibliography. Consider using a bibliographical program such as http://www.zotero.org/.

v Some find it easier to just underline and not take notes.

v Read the article with a pen in hand. If you went paperless, use your computer’s notepad or other relevant media.

v Underline/mark main points/arguments/questions.

v Have a hierarchy of argument in mind. Often, the author will give you markers. Try to identify them in the text (“All candidates must satisfy three general requirements: doctrinal purity, heroic virtue, and miraculous intercession after death”). Authors usually do not line up arguments at random! (and if they do, that’s something to note as well!)

v Jot down a one-word or mini-summaries next to every paragraph.

v While you are reading, think: Do you agree with the argument? Why? Why not?

v Where did this article appear? What kind of a journal or book is it? Scholarly? Popular? Newspaper?

v If you are writing a paper, find out who the author is and what else she has written.

v Write a brief summary, if possible in just one sentence and note it in your bibliography and/or write it on top of the article.

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