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Arts 130: Black and Free: Reading and note taking

A Library guide supporting Dr. Keleta-Mae's Arts130 section

Reading and Note Taking


Skim the source getting a quick overview of the material, and determine how the article is relevant to your research

Be selective about what your read – there is no need to read all of each and every work your choose. Decide what is essential and leave the rest.

Answer your research question—where is the evidence you are seeking? What arguments about your topic is the author making?

Manage your energy—active reading can be tiring. Give yourself breaks between chapters or articles.

Paul N. Edwards has written a useful guide to active academic reading called “How to Read”. 

Taking Notes

  • Record citation information as you go.
  • Take active, in-depth notes on your high-priority sources
  • Write down your own ideas about the work your are reading
  • Summarize key points in your own words
  • Highlight very important quotes, terms, or ideas
  • If you’re taking notes on a separate piece of paper or document always put quotation marks around direct quotes. Record what page the quote is from in case you want to include it in your paper or revisit that passage.
  • Write down any connections you are making, key words or authors you have discovered, and which of your arguments the source supports.