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Early Connection Opportunity (ECO) Program, 2023: Reading & Note-taking

Close Reading & Note-taking

Strategies when taking notes:

  • Summarize

Read the article, put it aside and write a few sentences about what you remember.


  • Interrogate

Read the article and, any time an idea or question pops into your head, write it down near the quote that sparked the idea. See example below:

Journal article with annotations


  • BEAM

Read the article and, as you read, classify each phrase or paragraph according to BEAM. Is it background information? Write B besides the phrase. See example below:

article with B, E, A, and M notations in different paragraphs

BEAM method: B for background (basic facts, definitions, general information), E for exhibit (results, answers, claims), A for argument (explain, justify, prove), and M for method (theory, style, perspective)


 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Justina Elmore, University of Rochester.  Adapted from Kristin M. Woodward & Kate Ganski's "What Could A Writer Do With This Source?" {{cc-by-4.0}}

  • Visual Notetaking/Sketchnoting

Sketchnoting. (18 Feb. 2019). Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Amytangg on Wikimedia Commons.

Notetaking exercise (10 min)

Summarize method

You will have 5-7 minutes to read though the text as many times and as closely as you can. Do NOT take any notes!

With about 4 minutes left in the 10-minute exercise (I will let you know the time), turn the article over/put it away so that you are working ONLY with your memory of what you've just read.

Write a 3-5 sentence summary of the article in your own words.

Interrogate method 

You will have 10 minutes for this exercise. Begin to read though the text and any time a thought or a question pops into your head, write that down next to the comment or quote that sparked that idea. Basically, you will be having a conversation with the text.

If something you read sparks a new question or follow-up action that you should take (e.g., look up the scientists' open letter to the World Health Organization), make sure to write that down.

If you disagree with a statement or have a follow-up example that would make an argument even stronger, make sure to write that down.

During your first read through, these should be your gut reactions and initial thoughts. After you have read through the article once and responded to various points, take one more look through the text to see if you have more to react to.

BEAM method

You will have 10 minutes for this exercise. Read through the text at least one time very closely.

As you consider the various points made in the article, please apply B.E.A.M. to it, which will allow you to compartmentalize the function of each piece within the article. B.E.A.M. stands for:
B → Background information included in the source
E → Evidence or examples used within the article to develop/support key points
A → Arguments made within the source, for or against the main issue
M→ Methodologies used to discover new information

Tips for making the process your own:
If you have different colored pens or highlighters, make distinctions between these four different pieces of the article. For example, highlight all background information in blue; highlight all arguments in yellow.

Alternatively, you can create your own code. For example, make a box around all background information; circle any examples used within the source. Or simply write a B, E, A, and M next to the areas that correspond.

Scan & Skim First


4 reading strategies: scan the title and abstract; skim the article; skim the introduction and conclusion; scan the article

​Ask Yourself

  • What are the terms and keyword the author is using?
  • Do I need to do further research to understand these concepts? (e.g. look it up in Wikipedia)
  • What is the main topic of the paper?
  • What are the subtopics or subsections of the paper?
  • Is the author successful in making their argument and/or is there further room for study?


Diagram of a Scholarly Journal Article

Notetaking Workshop Powerpoint

Notetaking tools for PDF reading

For PC:

For Mac:

Preview (using Annotate tool)

Group Notetaking: 



Learn more:



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Eileen Daly-Boas
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(585) 236-4145


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Justina Elmore
Learning Initiatives
Rush Rhees Library, Rm. 106
755 Library Rd, Rochester, NY 14627
League of Librarians
(585) 276-7845
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Sarah Siddiqui
313E Carlson Library
River Campus Libraries
University of Rochester


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Kristen Totleben
Rush Rhees Library, room 106

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