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0273721704 Dissertation

0273721704 Dissertation

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Published by Alexandra Au

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Published by: Alexandra Au on Aug 13, 2011
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07/25/2013

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Itcanbeadauntingandunproductiveexperiencetohaveapileofbooksandarticles

sittinginfrontofyouwithoutaclearplanofattack.Yetasurprisinglylargenumberof

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3Preparing to write

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studentssimplywadein,notebookathandandpenattheready(orfingershovering

abovethekeyboard),intentonnotingdownanythingtheyfeelmightbeusefulto

theirenterprise.Oneoftheunfortunatebutinevitableresultsofthisapproachisthat

thesestudentstendtoseealmosteverythingas‘potentiallyrelevantanduseful’and,

therefore,oftenenduphighlightingandnotingdownhugetractsoftextmuchof

whichwillultimatelybesurplustorequirements.

If you are to avoid wasting large amounts of time in this way, you need to be eco-

nomical and consider why you are taking notes and what kind of information you are

looking for. In other words, your note-making needs to be guided and disciplined. It

also needs to have a clearly-defined purpose, and that purpose may comprise one

or more of the following:

■to identify a definition or multiple definitions of a term

■to familiarise yourself with the range of perspectives that exist on a particular

issue

■to get an articulation or multiple articulations of an idea, theory or approach

■to seek arguments that support a theoretical position

■to extract the logic of an argument

■to find contrasting viewpoints on an issue

■to identify a research design/methodology

■tolocateresearchfindingsassociatedwithaparticularareaorsubjectof

inquiry

■to get a sense of the issues that bear upon a subject and of which you may not be

aware.

Of course, there are times when our note-making isn’t quite so directed as the

above would suggest. Sometimes we read simply to familiarise ourselves further

with an idea or area in general so that we have a comprehensive overview of it and

a sense of the various issues that are central to it and which help define it. Yet even

in these circumstances some kind of conceptual framework or map is helpful in that

it allows you to decide what’s important and thus worth noting down, and what’s

not. Without any kind of constraints or parameters, reading and note-making

become too open-ended and inefficient.

Inordertoacquiresuchaconceptualmap,trytoreadacompletesection,chap-

ter,etc.atleastoncebeforestartingtotakenotesonit.Althoughitmayseeman

extravagantuseoftime,it’snormallyaveryworthwhileinvestment.Ifyousimply

starttakingnotesasyouread,youcaneasilygetlostinthedetailandlosesight

ofthemainideas.Asaresult,youendupnotingdowntoomuchinformation.

Readingthematerialinadvanceallowsyoutostepbackabitanddetermine

whatthewriter’smainpointsare,whatthesupportingideasare,andwhichof

thesearemostpertinentforyourpurposes.Youcanthennotethesedown

accordingly.

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Note-making

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