Read Like a Graduate Student, not a Mystery Fan

First year graduate students often struggle with the volume of reading required. It’s not uncommon to have assigned to you hundreds of pages a week on a range of topics. The typical course may cover the contents of a half-dozen books and 75-100 academic papers. All of this you’re meant to consume, understand, and synthesize with everything you know. The task is, to say the least, daunting.

It doesn’t have to be so difficult to read academic works; people make simple reading mistakes that are easily corrected.

Continue reading Read Like a Graduate Student, not a Mystery Fan

Endnote: Save PDFs of web pages and online articles

Endnote is primarily intended to help you store citation information and create bibliographies for your academic papers, but it also allows you to collect PDFs of the documents. This is helpful for journal articles, and fantastic for dynamic content.

When reading online articles or web pages that you might need to cite, print to PDF and attach the PDF file to your Endnote record. On Mac OS X, this capability is built-in to the Print dialog. In Windows, you’ll need to install software that allows you to print to PDF.

The purpose of a citation is to allow your readers (and you) to relocate the material you use as evidence in your writing. By keeping a PDF of web pages as you saw them, you have the exact material on which you’re basing your quotations and interpretations. In other words, you (and your critics) have access to the version you’re relying on, even if it’s later changed significantly.

This is particularly important when the material you’re citing changes frequently, such as newspaper articles and political websites.

Endnote: Store quotations

One of the most time consuming tasks of writing is finding that perfect quotation, finding that page number where an important idea was introduced, etc. By recording what you believe to be valuable (citation-worthy) quotations in your Endnotes records, you can quickly search them and cite the page. I store quotes in the “Custom 7” field in this format:

Quotations in Endnote

This way, I have the quotation and the page number and can quickly insert critical information into my papers.

My rule: If it would be worth highlighting, it’s worth entering into Endnote. Continue reading Endnote: Store quotations

Treat Williams on The Holy Time

Evelyn Rowser [fictional character] had an expression for the few seconds before the curtain went up. She called it the holy time. But you don’t have to be an actor to know what the holy time feels like. It’s that breath you take just seconds before you become the person you were meant to become. For some people, it feels like forever. And for some, it’s a moment over far too fast.

— Treat Williams as Dr. Andrew Brown narrating the closing of Everwood

What will you improve today?