Look at sources with questions and ideas in mind. If you don't, it can be difficult to engage with the information presented. You might waste time looking at irrelevant sections of texts, or let the details of a lecture pass you by. With so many sources available, it is essential to select material carefully and have a clear focus as you read or listen.
Selecting material: skim and scan
To judge whether a text is potentially interesting and relevant to your topic quickly glance over the sections (website) contents page and indexes (books), and abstracts (journal articles).
Selecting material: find in document
For electronic documents, you could search for keywords inside the document. This may lead you to relevant sections, and give you an idea in how much detail a topic is covered. Remember that there are probably many topic keywords which you aren't yet familiar with. Combine keyword searching with skimming and scanning to build up a better picture of the document.
Your focus: preparing questions
If you have an assignment, then you have a focus. Read and listen to material actively by preparing questions, selecting sections of sources which are likely to respond to those questions and making notes of what you find.
Your focus: taking notes
Note taking is an essential step to recording and developing ideas. It can also help you keep focussed and process the information you are listening to or reading. Get in the habit of making notes whenever you read a text, or participate in a learning session. For guidance on different note-taking methods, such as creating visual notes, see Solent Library Catalogue resources on note taking.
Use this template or develop your own for making notes on the sources you use. This template has a general focus. If you fill it in, click on the blue arrow, then create document and download your responses. You can adapt the template to the focus of your assignment.