You’re coming to CCCU! Get uni-ready with our top tips on pre-reading
With the summer stretching before you, you may be wondering how you can fill your time before starting uni. Why not try some of our top tips on pre-reading.
At the risk of sounding like your great aunt, I’m going to suggest you get yourself prepared for the intellectual adventure of a life-time. You’ve probably already investigated buying a sandwich toaster, a mini-bar and a coffee-machine on e-bay for your new pad (all I’m afraid not allowed in uni bedrooms), but have you started the pre-reading?
Did I hear a yawn? Now before you click away, I’d like you to take some of my suggestions seriously.
Getting uni-ready doesn’t have to be expensive or dull
If you live in Kent, there are some excellent ways you can get yourself uni-ready. Public libraries have a wealth of eye-poppingly amazing digital resources if you take the time to look. This is also true of other library authorities in the UK. Why not have a look at this map to find yours.
Public libraries also provide access to e-audiobooks if you find that you want to listen rather than prop a laptop on your bedside cabinet.
Get in the JSTOR-know
If you haven’t experienced reading scholarly texts or journal articles before, then now is the time to try it. JSTOR is a major supplier of multidisciplinary articles and book chapters from top scholarly publishers. When you get to uni, you’ll discover that we subscribe to most of JSTOR’s content, but until you get here, why not see what is freely available on the site.
It’s probably not the best site for science and medical articles, as JSTOR doesn’t offer the most recent research, but for a long-look at a subject, you can find a lot of interesting material. Maybe if you don’t know exactly what’s going to be taught on your modules, you might want to look for something more general. Or maybe try reading about something you already know about, to get a sense of the style and structure of academic writing. You’ll be surprised what you can find:
As you read, you may wish to think critically about:
- What are the most important points in this (article)?
- What have I found out that I didn’t know before?
- Is the article convincing? Why / why not?
- Does this change what I think? Yes? How? Why? No? Why not?
Start thinking like a uni student, and you’ll be prepared for the course reading when you arrive.
Sampling and selecting
One thing you are going to learn about uni life is that there is a whole lot of reading for some subjects. Why not get adept at sampling and selecting material before diving in for the full immersion.
Google books provide previews for some of their titles – little tantalising tit-bits to get you to buy the book. Well why not read the previews and create a hit list of titles that you’d like to read when you receive your university smartcard (which also acts as your library card). Have a look at our university library catalogue and see if we have them. Be critical about what you find – is the material up to date, is it relevant, who wrote it and why?
Amazon also offers free sample chapters. Try to choose titles that have been published by a university press or an academic publisher such as Taylor and Francis, Routledge, Sage etc. and avoid books aimed at a general readership.
If you’d like to find out more about free academic material online, then take a look at this Open Access blog.
As you embark on your university journey you will find that selecting and rejecting information is an important part of forming your own ideas and arguments. You will also find that adopting search tricks such as using the search text option in Google Books to tease out information, become invaluable.
However, it is important to recognise that citing from a snippet view has its dangers, as you may find yourself mis-representing an argument or theory because you have only read a small part of it. Where possible, it is always best if you can obtain the full-text and read more than one or two pages of any text, if only to evaluate how the snippet fits in to the wider argument. Imagine writing a 600 page academic text, and everyone only ever read the first 5 pages.
Feel the pages
Maybe you just want to own a few core texts to get you set up for the new academic year. Well, the CCCU book shop is open for business.
You can browse texts by subject discipline and see featured books from reading lists and if a book isn’t found on their website send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will investigate.
If you are unsure of which titles to purchase, the programme administrators from your academic department are usually able to recommend core titles.