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How do you solve a problem like researching for assignments?: Be an active reader

What will I learn in this section?

  1. How to be an active reader.
  2. How to read specialist sources.
  3. Take a break with the curated reading lists.

1. Be an active reader

This is a picture of books stacked in front of book shelves.Lets think about reading. 

Its a life long skill which we use every day. There are lots of reasons why we read:

  • relaxation
  • fun
  • self improvement
  • wellbeing
  • to learn about the world
  • to find out how to navigate or complete a task

At university, reading is all about developing your understanding of your subject. Its about making connections between ideas and processes and understanding how a field has developed. Reading can also be very practical and technical for example how to make a buffer solution or how to use the centrifuge.

To get the most out of your reading, we need to be active and engage with the information. This could be making notes or highlighting text or pulling apart articles into themes.

Do not forget, sometimes we are too tired to read and engage with the text. Its OK to take a break and come back to reading when you are refreshed. If these approaches do not work for you, talk to one of the Skills Centres advisors to see what approaches they can recommend.

2. Reading at University

This is a maroon box with the text - Reading at University.

Academic reading is an important part of your studies whilst you are at University.

At first this might seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you are new to your subject. Your tutors are very aware of this, and so in order to guide you and to get you started on your academic reading journey all the modules that you will be studying will have an online reading list, known as an RLO (short for Reading List Online).

This is a picture of a light bulb.                      Activity 1:  Use the Reading at University RLO.

  • Go to the RLO. You can find the RLO linked below.
  • Choose a resource to read and use to help improve your reading or another academic skill.

3. Be an active reader!

This is a screen shot of the Being an active reader tutorial.

This is a picture of a light bulb.                      Activity 2: Develop your active reading skills

  • Login to My Hallam.
  • Navigate to the module site Professional and Scientific Practice 1: Labs
  • You can find the Being an active reader tutorial in Skills section and then the Essay folder.
  • Complete the tutorial and come back to the guide to continue the guide tasks.

The tutorial is sequential and begins at the Introduction and ends at the Recap section. It contains a mix of videos, quizzes and activities designed to help you with your academic reading at University. The tutorial is embedded in your module site but in future we hope to be able to embed the tutorial within this guide.

4. How to read specialist sources

Here are specially selected resources related to Biosciences, Chemistry and Health to help you understand how to read journal articles in these fields.

The resource are selected from professional bodies or organisations related to Biosciences and Chemistry plus links to the academic reading resources recommended by the Skills Centre resources.


This is a picture of a light bulb.                      Activity 3: Choose the most appropriate guide to read. 

Learn how to maximise your time and get help from experts! Doing this now, may save you time when you are reading journal articles and your assignment time is getting closer than you would like!

5. Take a break with the curated reading lists.

This is a multi coloured box overlaid on a Sheffield city centre image with the text - This is me.

We all need to take a break at time from academic reading! 

Here at Hallam Library, your librarians, have handcrafted a range of curated reading lists to help explore a range of political and social issues, or find genre fiction to help you unwind and take a break from academic studies – recreational reading with a little bit of dystopian fiction anyone?  You can find a wide range of lists at the Curated Reading List page with a mixture of text based books and a comprehensive comic collection - including fiction, non fiction and academic comics.

What are the benefits of curated reading lists?

A great book has the potential to take you anywhere whether that’s to the depths of Mordor or the African nation of Wakanda. Being transported into another world with fantastic stories and characters can provide a much needed break from our daily lives and enables us to connect to new worlds and ideas.

Representation is key in literature, it is important to see and recognize ourselves in the stories that are being told to help build those feelings of belonging, recognition, identity, empathy and understanding.

Books can also inspire us and encourage us to effect change whether on a local or global scale. Change can be on a personal level, for example, trying a week without using any single use plastic or technology based, for example, using our social media to petition for change and stand against injustice.

6. Take a break

Congratulations you have completed four sections! 

Time to take a break - maybe some fresh air or a chat with a friend or a cup of tea!