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literature reading - trouble concentrating (Sep/16/2010 )

Hi,

I am a relatively new PhD student (been here since April now) and although I am enjoying the labwork and enjoying the research side of it (when it works anyway), I am having trouble concentrating when in the office and trying to read literature background and papers. I am attempting to write a short review of the research area with references as an aim to get me to read and understand more, but find I spend half the time surreptitiously ending up on news websites and others unrelated to science instead...

Does anyone have any tips for how to concentrate when trying to do literature reading?

-philman-

philman on Thu Sep 16 13:50:03 2010 said:


Hi,

I am a relatively new PhD student (been here since April now) and although I am enjoying the labwork and enjoying the research side of it (when it works anyway), I am having trouble concentrating when in the office and trying to read literature background and papers. I am attempting to write a short review of the research area with references as an aim to get me to read and understand more, but find I spend half the time surreptitiously ending up on news websites and others unrelated to science instead...

Does anyone have any tips for how to concentrate when trying to do literature reading?


To be honest, if there is 1 thing I can not do then its reading papers at work...
I only read them at home, away from distraction...

At office there are too many distractions... computer, people, noise...

So its just up to you to get away from all the distractions..

-pito-

Hey philman,

Welcome to Bioforum. And pitoís right, there would be a lot of distractions in the office especially if it is shared. However, if you donít want to bring work home (thereís a life outside the lab after all) :), you can still manage even in the midst of chaos... you just have to stay motivated. I find that making goals more realistic make them more achievable. Par exemple, psych yourself up to finish one or two papers a day so donít dump papers a mile high on your desk cos for sure youíd have an attack of sloth or procrastination. And to prevent your attention from straying, do the usual tricks of hi-liting, making notes, summarizing....this would facilitate revisiting them later plus youíve got tangent proof that you've achieved something. And donít forget to take breaks, to regroup, refresh....go for a short walk, drink coffee, eat some chocolates..then you come back ready to have another go.

And there would be days, when no matter how hard you try or whatever heck you do doesnít really work so cut yourself some slack and watch a movie, go for a drink, hang out with friends, visit this forum :P etc but just be mindful of deadlines...

-casandra-

Print them out, switch out the computer, protect your ears and get a hot coffee/tea.
Reading a print out is often easier and more comfortable (don't ask me why).

-hobglobin-

I find that to really concentrate and make sure I am understanding the paper, I must take my own notes. Otherwise, my eyes glaze over and I realize I have no idea of what I just read. Get a notebook and start making notes of the important conclusions and experiments done that lead to the conclusion. I find this also helps when trying to integrate information from a large number of publications. Also, print the article out...this way you can't surf the net and waste hours.

-rkay447-

hmm printing out so don't get distracted by internet is a good idea, currently I am trying to read them all online and store them in my reference manager program (I am using Zotero) for easy access later on, I always find I lose things when I print them out!And yes writing down summaries of each and aiming targets is a good idea. I was trying to write an overall summery of my subject area, but I guess small summaries of each paper to start and then a larger review later might be more useful.

and no I don't really want to have to do this at home, I find far more distractions there than in the office! (non-scientist-flatmates, video games, music, books etc) I wish we had a common room or something where could sit and read relitavely quietly but space in this building is at too much of a premium for that!

thanks for all the tips I might take up on some of the advice :)

-philman-

sometimes reading one single paper involves reading about 10 more, when there are interesting references related from papers you hadn't heard about yet, especially if you're just starting your phd. then what can happen is that after the 5th related paper your head spins too fast and ideas come together at the same time and have to slow down, so try to read the fewest you can at a time (3 at the most i'd say, it varies from person to person).

printing them out is the best you can do. good luck.

-toejam-

toejam on Wed Sep 22 15:40:28 2010 said:


sometimes reading one single paper involves reading about 10 more, when there are interesting references related from papers you hadn't heard about yet, especially if you're just starting your phd. then what can happen is that after the 5th related paper your head spins too fast and ideas come together at the same time and have to slow down, so try to read the fewest you can at a time (3 at the most i'd say, it varies from person to person).

printing them out is the best you can do. good luck.



That sounds exactly like what happens to me, start reading one paper, click on a reference or two, start reading those and more references, then end up not remembering what the hell I was reading in the first place

-philman-