This post will talk briefly about finding and summarizing information in the most efficient way.
Before the Search
This skill requires an understanding of several things before the search begins:
1. Wikipedia should never act as a stand-alone reference, as it is an open-source database.
2. Effective skimming of long texts is extremely important.
3. Organizing one's thoughts in an effective manner will make a good synthesis become great.
4. Having a clear and concise understanding of what you're looking for will expedite the process.
Understanding this before conducting any search is paramount.
During the Search
When conducting the search, taking notes on a Word document in order to organize your thoughts and findings will help the synthesis process come more easily. Organizing the findings appropriately will not only make the task aesthetically-pleasing, but it will also allow you to draw conjectures and correlations that jumbled thoughts on scratch paper would not.
Teachers and educators:
How can we efficiently teach this and explicitly improve this overlooked skill in the classroom? I've thought about an assignment that calls for conducting multiple web searches of eclectic topics, and asking them to synthesize and present their findings in different forms: tables, charts, short essays, etc. What other ways could this be taught, and what would it do for their careers in the future?
Steven Yang is a 3rd year undergraduate student at the Haas School of Business. Contact him at [email protected] for further contact/inquiries.