What do we mean by 'managing' your reading? And why should you be doing it?
Managing your reading isn't a single process, but a range of areas including keeping track of what you need to read and when, navigating reading different formats including reading on screen, and making sure you keep a record of what you read and the bibliographic information you would need to cite something in your work.
Often you'll have a lot of things to read and keep track of, so taking time to find methods that help you to read, store, and cite material can be very useful.
There are many ways of keeping a list of what you need to read, what you have read, and what you want to cite in your work: notebooks, documents, spreadsheets... However, there are also applications designed for this specific task, called reference management applications. These allow you to create your own library of the material you've been reading and finding in searches, and then if you want the applications also have features to help you to categorise these and cite them in your work.
Our Reference Management Practical Guide has all the information on the applications we support at York, how they work, and how to try them out!
When you've got a lot of material to read or keep track of, you need some strategies in place to help you keep on top of that!
Firstly, it is useful to manage your time and prioritise what you need to read around other work and commitments. Using something more visual like a spreadsheet or more organised like Google Calendar can help you block out reading time or work out how many things you need to read by certain deadlines.
Prioritise reading where you can. If you know something is required for a certain class or piece of work, read that first. Think about how you read critically to get the most out of what you read and know the purpose of your reading before you start. This will help you to manage your reading time by getting the most out of reading.
Another key thing to consider is how you manage what you read. Our reference management action plan has some prompts you might find useful for considering what you currently do to organise your reading material.
Reading an academic text requires a particular set of skills. We take a look at what's involved:
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A lot of the materials you'll come across will be electronic texts. To save needlessly printing these out, you will need to develop your skills of reading from a screen. You've probably been reading from a screen most of your life, but there are still some principles worth considering:
Looking at a bright, white screen can be really tiring for your eyes - try changing the brightness or colours to give them a rest.
Reader tools help you read webpages and documents more easily by:
Here are some Reader tools you can try:
Using Firefox Reader View to make a webpage easier to read:
Tired of reading? Try listening to the text instead!
You might also want to annotate PDFs when reading on screen, similar to how you might annotate printed texts. Many PDF tools have this feature, for example the web browsers Microsoft Edge and Firefox and reading app iBooks allow PDF annotation.
There are many useful software features that you can use to make reading easier:
Google Docs give you a lot of flexibility about how the document looks.
Top tip! Open PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Reader instead of your browser - they're much easier to read and can be customised.
How to open a PDF in Adobe Reader from the browser view:
Note: some of these tips only work for files saved on your computer.
OrbitDoc is a browser extension with many features to make PDFs easier to work with. You can listen to the text, highlight text and make your own notes.
Find out more: