These are some simple guidelines on how to analyse a text and how to make notes on it.
The following might help you reading critically a text. Read the text once to have a rough idea of the content, then re-read carefully looking at the following questions:
· What what is the text about, what is the main content, what are the main arguments/ideas conveyed (note that this point can be addressed at sever different levels, i.e. the text can be though of an onion, with many layers to peel off)
· How how does the author make his/her arguments, which evidences he/she bring to support them
· Who knowing about the author of the article can help you placing the text in a wider context… is the author a journalist, the president of the US, and academic, etc…
· When again, this can help you placing the text in a wider context, e.g. is it a contemporary text? Was it written during the cold war? Or in the middle ages?
· Why you might want to think why the author is making particular arguments. This is usually the most difficult point,
1) Summarize the whole text in one/sentences (this helps you summarising complex information in few words, and allow you to remember an article just by reading a few sentences!)
2) Make a short and crisp review of main arguments (note the difference between summarising an article and identifying the main arguments)
3) Identify 3/4 (or more!!) strengths, things you agree with, or like, and specify why you agree with/like those points
4) Identify 3/4 (or more!!) weaknesses, things you don’t agree with, or don’t like, and specify why
5) Identify things you do not understand or questions for class discussion