Tips on reading

Tips on reading

Note that this class is heavy on reading! There are around 6-7 readings per week, translating to roughly 30-100 of text. This means that if you haven't already, you will have to get good at reading lots of text. Here are some tips:

  • Read the abstract, introduction, and conclusions first. Also, quickly skim over the entire paper , so you get a basic understanding of what the paper is trying to argue, and how it will proceed.
  • Highlight or underline key ideas in the paper. If you want to save some trees, you can also do this entirely online in PDFs.
  • Summarize the main ideas in the paper. Try explaining the main ideas and arguments to someone else, either in one paragraph of text or in 30 seconds speaking.
  • For empirical articles, concentrate on the tables and figures, since these represent the authors' main results. Then you can revisit the methods, to see how the authors arrived at their results, and the discussion, to see whether their interpretations of the results match your own.
  • The articles assigned in a particular week are thematically related.  Try to understand the articles among the article.  I've often tried to provide an overview article, often from a core discipline, and then applications of some of the ideas in HCI or information systems.  How do the more applied articles reflect basic principles identified in the overview articles? Is one article a refinement or extension of another.  Do articles have conflicting arguments or data?