In my second year of grad school, I took a class with the estimable Eithne Luibheid. In addition to teaching an excellent course on Gender, Sexuality, and Transnational Migration, she also provided us with a notetaking rubric she expected us to use while preparing our presentations on the readings. It was excellent, although I only used it on and off while I was writing my Master’s thesis. Now, immersed in the mind-numbing sea of reading for my comprehensive exams, I rely on that rubric (forked for my purposes) like a fisherman relies on her nets. So, here it is, that you too might find some use for it.
[begin with a complete citation of the book or article you read, obviously in your field’s preferred format]
[both the first and the last note I take; key if you, like me, totally forget stuff like this eventually]
[make sure to note the page number]
ARGUMENT EVALUATION (& REMEDIES)
[I only write this one in if I have a strong opinion about it, but keeping it separate helps the rest of my notes stay more on point]
RELATION TO MY RESEARCH
[an incredibly valuable reminder; noted throughout reading and after]
RELATION TO OTHER READINGS
[while Dr. Luibheid suggested making content notes here, I generally use this space to note important references listed in the reading so that I can follow up with them later]
USEFUL QUOTATIONS and GENERAL NOTES
[this should be self-explanatory]
It is also worth noting, since I’m talking about notetaking, that I use Evernote for all my notetaking. It’s a free program and it syncs between devices (in my case, I usually take notes on my computer, but when I travel I use my iPad, and when I’m stuck somewhere and thinking about my work I like to be able to access my notes on my smart phone – this makes that much easier).