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Study Tools: Taking Notes from Critical Analyses, Sometimes Called SECONDARY Sources, in the Arts and Humanities; WYSIHYT Revisited

Undertaking SECONDARY reading is an essential feature of study at University level. For you to write and to speak in an informed manner, you need to be aware of important contextual information, to understand the range of critical opinion on your topic, and the differences between diverging interpretations and approaches. We begin with a brief review of the differences between primary and secondary reading. Three questions arise.

Question 1: What should I read?

As with primary reading, any amount of SECONDARY reading is preferable to none, although there are forms of alleged secondary reading which are almost worthless. As you may discover in feedback on your essays, simply consulting 'any old', or 'new', internet source will not be acceptable. Why not? We will discuss this issue in our session.

Question 2: Why should I take notes about SECONDARY sources?

Taking notes at the time of reading delivers multiple benefits to the student. Notes provide a record of information. Strategic, selective note-taking helps to sharpen your critical, proactive involvement in the material you are dealing with. Having notes of your secondary reading will enhance your essay writing performance, and make it easier for you to revise for tests and exams (if necessary), at a later date.

Question 3: What should my notes look like?

This workshop explores how and why to take notes in different styles for different analytical purposes and text types. We begin by reviewing the reading 'trick' for analytical or theoretical texts (skim reading) which we learned in workshop 2 and reassess its value as a first set of notes from secondary material.

We revisit the acronym, WYSIHYT.

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Theme tags: Academic english, Academic Skills, Critical thinking, Reading and note-taking skills, Study skills, Writing skills