My profession requires that I read - a lot. Recently I became obsessed over whether or not I should be doing my professional reading on screen or on paper. So, I did a little research and found several articles on the subject; and no help making a decision about which approach would be more appropriate for me.
What I found is that articles on this topic have a similar narrative, which looks like this.
- State a conclusion: Authors start by saying that when you read on paper, you are a more effective reader.
- Cite the research: Then they use the research results and interviews to reinforce the point that reading on paper is more effective.
- Muddy the research: Authors then go on to cite other research that contradicts the original conclusion.
- State that more research is needed: They eventually get around to saying that more research, in particular longitudinal research, is needed before making a conclusion regarding what method of reading is better.
- Recommendations: Since readers are moving toward on screen reading anyway, authors finish by making suggestions to help on screen readers. Not all authors make recommendations, but most do.
I found these articles to be very frustrating. I was looking for guidance on an important area of my work and found no good advice. So, I decided to develop an "ecosystem" that I feel will help me to be a more effective reader.
My Reading Ecosystem
First, I decided to read on screen. I have to read a number of journals, reports, and proposals as well as books. My laptop is lighter than the four books, two proposals, and the three articles I am reading right now.
Second, I decided to read on my laptop rather than using a tablet or smartphone. I rely on my laptop's features to take notes and interact with the text.
Now that I've made those decisions, my goal is to become an effective reader. I learned from my research that I need to integrate the following habits.
- Focus: I turned off every reminder notice, bell, and whistle on my laptop. I also close down my email client and browser. I do this so that I can focus on what I'm reading.
- Interact with Text: I read using programs that allow me to highlight text. I also interact with the text by taking notes in another program (Evernote). I copy key phrases and sentences into my notes and write my thoughts there as well. This helps me get the most out of the text.
I am becoming an effective reader using these ideas. I'm finding this to be effective, until I decide to change...
How do you keep up with your professional reading? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Jabr, F. (2013, April 12). The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/
Konnikova, M. (2014, July 16). Being a Better Online Reader. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/being-a-better-online-reader
Korbey, H. (2014, September 9). Can Students ‘Go Deep’ With Digital Reading? Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/can-students-go-deep-with-digital-reading/
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