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How to manage the quantity of reading material

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Because of the enormous quantity of reading material in and around your topic, it is a good idea to become selective in what you read and how you read the texts. There will not be adequate time to read everything in great detail. Therefore, before you read a book or article, try to establish if it has relevance for your project. A good indication can be gained by reading the introduction and conclusion. Recent journals in your discipline can often provide current thinking and findings as well as reviews.

It is important to determine who the major authorities in the area are.

Once you have read a considerable amount relating to your topic, try to categorise or cluster the material in some way.

Look for ways that you can group the material. Identify related topics, contrasting ideas, commonality and difference, or particular approaches. Note changes of thinking that relate to time or place. Organise your references into groups that are conceptually related and then you will be able to see influences, similarities and differences.

In grouping the material that you read you will be organising the large quantity of literature into a manageable conceptual framework. This will help you to organise your thinking, to identify similarities and patterns and give some structure whereby you can then present what you know with clarity and definition.

This process will result in conceptual clusters of related material that you can draw upon to prove, disprove, justify, persuade and build your argument.

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