Digital reading tips?

I’m looking for some tips on digital reading. My issue is that I need to learn how to scan documents. I’m a slow reader at the best of times, and chemo brain has done nothing to increase my reading speed. Part of my reading challenge is that I feel the need to read every-single-word in a document. Even when I know the section isn’t that interesting, I still struggle to skip past it and just jump to the interesting parts. Part of me has a severe form of FOMO (fear of missing out). If I skip over a section, I might miss that one perfect quote that is in the document. So, instead, I read every painstaking line, even if the document is of little or only peripheral interest. The problem is, I cannot keep this up. If there is any hope of me getting back to my PhD and getting it done in a timely fashion, I need to learn to skip over parts of the text that are not relevant. I need to learn ways in which to scan text.

Now to add to this complexity is that I read most of my text on my tablet. I read all my articles on my tablet, as well as long documents like dissertations. I do have a few paper books, but I reserve that form of reading mostly for bedtime and for books where I expect I’ll be jumping back and forth looking for quotes. Or text where I think there is something to be gained by reading them in print. Otherwise, all my reading is done in the digital format.

So, I’m asking all my blog readers out there, what are your tips for reading or scanning digital documents? What do you do to ensure you are reading the important parts, but not wasting time on the parts that don’t need to be read with that same level of attention? Any suggestions?

NaBloPoMo November 2015

5 responses

  1. Ron Samu Avatar

    I understand this might be a minor tool or trick, but I use an app that I can use to capture passages and pages. I can scan an abstract or a passage from a book and keep it. Then I can access it later to use, cite, or whatever. It helps when I just want to capture a five line peice and don’t feel like writing it down with a citation. It is part of Google Drive, but when you use it on your computer you have to hold the item up to the camera. On your phone, you can grab pages from a text in the library, even shoot the screen you are looking at.

    1. Rebecca - @rjhogue Avatar
      Rebecca – @rjhogue

      Hi Ron,
      Thanks.I saw a post from someone about using Evernote – which I already use and pay for – in a way that I had not thought. Since I pay for pro, I can take pictures of text (ensuring I grab the page number) – and Evernote does character recognition, such that I can search on a passage and find it … that is a huge win when it comes time to write and I’m searching for something that I read.
      But now I’m mostly looking for how I might read more efficiently.

  2. francesbell Avatar

    I was going to suggest scanning an article in the order – abstract, conclusion, then the rest if it seemed relevant then I had a better idea – checking what Pat Thomson said. Her blog is a mine of useful information and I found this that might be useful Unfortunately, it does not refer specifically to digital texts but it should still have relevance.

    1. Rebecca - @rjhogue Avatar
      Rebecca – @rjhogue

      Thanks Frances. I find myself wondering though, is there a different process when the article itself is digital in nature? Or does the same apply? I wonder how others who read digitally manage this?

      1. francesbell Avatar

        I guess it depends on what we mean by a digital text. Many open access journals have alternatives of html and pdf versions and to me, the pdf feels more like paper. I would find it easier to scan a sectioned article with an abstract and a conclusion than say a long form blog post. It’s actually making me think about altering my blogging style to provide an excerpt or abstract-like first para so thanks for that.

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