I read a lot, I’m a reader. Thank all the gods. I have SO MUCH in my (clearly) overly ambitious reading list in Endnote that I’ve embarked on an equally ambitious plan. I’m setting a goal of 10 papers a week for the next three months while I’m writing up my confirmation of candidature. I should be able to do it (I hope!) as I’m an embarrassingly fast reader, so at least I can physically get through it. It’s a total of 130 papers, which sounds like a lot. I have over 500 things in Endnote at the moment, so if I can manage to stick to it for longer, I might get through most of it!
It took me a while to settle on how to approach reading. I’m a perfectionist, which is shit sometimes, so I just kind of left engaging fully with a very long list of articles and chapters in the too-hard-because-I-can’t-perform-it-perfectly basket. That’s a big basket. I try and deal with my must-be-perfect-or-just-sit-frozen-in-inaction-and-binge-watching-Blacklist tendencies by making a good enough job be 1) okay; and 2) doable. As in, I have to get in to the tiny boring details. Which I’m now going to overshare with you all.
I tried to read on my iPad but for key papers (I’ve got about 50 that are pretty central so far) I need a hard copy. So I am a repentant tree murderer. I print them out. I am hoping to move to the iPad soon though, it’s way easier, and I read books on there via Kindle so I don’t really know what my brain’s issue is!
I want to read at least 10 papers a week, and these can’t all be super hard papers because I might be dedicated, but I’m also a delicate flower. So I try and pick a mix of “get the gist of the work” papers, that don’t need a lot of notes, just a summary, and at least 5 “OMG I have to read and synthesise this or I will totes fail my PhD” papers. I should point out this doesn’t include anything else I read on my way through the week, like if I’m working on a section and dig through literature as I go. I’m talking more about getting through a large body of literature that I want to fully understand and appreciate before I finish up. The body of work that will be the fields I want to contribute to as a researcher and in my career. Anyway, back to stationery, which frankly is the highlight!
I have nice box that my 10 papers fit in, with my pen and highlighter. And I have a clipboard for home. Because I like them and there’s nothing like a clipboard for making you feel super smart and organised. Try it!
I’m writing up notes for each paper in Scrivener as I go, so I can more easily shift and flesh out notes to be in any final writing. I posted a little while ago about working at home with kids, and I think having a reading set up at home will mean I can just have this task set for quieter afternoons, and a chunk of weekend time. The whole project also fits my have a checklist of shit to do goals (“Write it down, check it off”), which is nice. Might as well work with it as against it.