ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Productive reading
Why spend time and effort reading a particular text?
Distinguishing between support and ‘front-line’ literature
How can you identify fit-for-purpose support texts to read in full or selectively?
Advance check: suitable support literature for your identified reading purpose
How can you identify fit-for-purpose front-line texts to read in summary or in depth?
Advance check: suitable front-line literature for your identified reading purpose
Scrutinising the efficiency of your academic reading habits
How efficient are you as a reader in your academic studies?
Reading strategies: scanning, skimming and intensive reading
Taking risks with your reading time and effort
Making the most of your reading time and effort: towards an effective compromise
Scanning a short text for specific information
Skimming long texts
Writing effectively
Arguing convincingly
Mapping your field
Literature reviewing
Reviewing the literature systematically
Developing proposals
How can you identify fit-for-purpose support texts to read in full or selectively? 


It is worth familiarising yourself with the characteristics, limitations and suitable reading purposes of different varieties of text that make up the support literature. Having a sense of what these varieties can and cannot do to support your learning will assist your efforts to identify the texts you most need to read.

Here is a table showing varieties of text from the support literature that you are likely to come across during your academic study of management subjects. It indicates some limitations of specific varieties of text and reading purposes for which they are well suited.

  

 

SUPPORT LITERATURE (typically books)

 

Variety of text

Common features

Indicative limitations

Indicative purposes that the variety is suitable for

Subject textbook

  • introduces an academic subject
  • typically designed for student use
  • covers many aspects of a subject, but treatment is quite superficial
  • gives little of the evidence backing theories, debates and practical prescriptions
  • introductory learning about a management subject
  • gathering background information on major theories, debates, and landmark research studies

Skills textbook

  • introduces academic skills
  • guides learning to perform them during academic studies
  • advice tends to be generic, so must be adapted for specific contexts
  • gives little of the evidence backing guidance offered
  • introductory learning about academic skills
  • in-depth learning to perform practical study and research skills to become a competent management researcher

Specialist encyclopaedia or dictionary

  • introduces an academic subject and related skills through brief entries
  • gives brief coverage of many topics
    brief entries mean little detail can be given
  • coverage of entries and interpretation of issues depend on perspectives of contributors and editors
  • becomes dated quickly as research and theorising moves on
  • introductory learning about very specific aspects of a management subject or research methods
  • clarifying particular concepts and theories, contributions of key scholars, debates from other varieties of text

Academic handbook

  • provides an overview of the state-of-the art in a subject and how to research it
  • chapters on specialist areas written by leading academics
  • coverage and interpretation of issues depend on perspectives of authors and editors
  • becomes dated quickly as research and theorising moves on
  • introductory learning about a management subject or research methods
  • gaining an up-to-date overview from selected chapters on specialist areas of interest

Reader

  • collection of classic papers in a subject
  • designed to support gaining an overview of the development of a subject over time
  • selection of texts depends on judgement of editors, interpretation of issues depends on perspectives of authors
  • not reliable source of contemporary papers as too early to know which will become classics
  • introductory learning about the historical development of a management subject or research methods
  • learning about key contributions to the development of theory and research in a specialist area of interest

Look carefully in turn at every variety of support text in the table. Can you think of at least one example of each variety of support text that is relevant to your academic studies, which you can access if you need it, and which might prove useful for some of your reading purposes?