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2.2.4 Reading graphs and charts: extracting information

When you are sure that you know what a chart or graph is all about, start to look for any main trends. Jot down for yourself a few conclusions that you think can be drawn. It often takes a little time before you can interpret the chart or graph properly. It is worth the effort, however, because information held in the form of a graph is highly patterned; and as our memories work by finding patterns in information and storing them, the information in graphs is easier to remember than informati
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2.2.3 Reading graphs and charts: getting started

Graphs and charts ought to be easy to read, since the main point of turning numbers into diagrams is to bring out their meaning more clearly. However, they are abstract representations that attempt to summarise certain aspects of the world in a condensed form. Consequently, they require a degree of mental effort on your part to bridge the gap between the formal pictures on the page and the aspects of ‘reality’ they represent. It is important to approach graphs and diagrams caref
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2.2.2 Reading graphs and charts: manipulating numbers

Text is just one way of communicating information. Numbers are another way, but whether presented singly, in groups or even as tables , numbers often require a lot of work from the reader to uncover the message. A much more immediate and powerful way to present numerical information is to use graphs and charts. When you use single numbers or tables, the reader has to visualise the meaning of the numbers. Graphs and charts allow the reader to do this at a glance. To show how powerful these rep
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3.7.2 Language

Your language should be direct rather than fancy. Don't strive for effect. You should always go for short and simple sentences where you can – especially when you are building up a basic essay-writing style. You can play with more elaborate words and grammatical structures later, when you have established a secure basic technique. Don't beat about the bush; pitch straight in to answering the essay question in a direct, purposeful way.


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3.7 Writing clearly

A final point that emerged from our analysis of Philip's and Hansa's essays was that a good essay is easy to read. Grand-sounding phrases and elaborate sentences do not make an essay impressive. Clarity and economy are what count. Such ease of reading is achieved at several levels.


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3.6 Taking an objective, analytical stance

One of the things I said an essay should be is ‘objective’. What does that mean? Being objective about something means standing back from it and looking at it coolly. It means focusing your attention on the ‘object’, on what you are discussing, and not on yourself and your own (subjective) feelings about it. Your ideas should be able to survive detailed inspection by other people who are not emotionally committed to them.

An essay should argue by force of reason, not emot
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1.3.5 Stage 3: Details

Now examine the piece in more detail. Read it again slowly making sure that you are able to follow its logic from sentence to sentence. Are there any obvious gaps in the argument or any unsubstantiated statements or assertions? Do you agree with its argument or are you attracted by its message? Is its appeal principally emotional or analytical, or both? Analyse the piece in terms of what it doesn't say as well as what it does, and look for its hidden message. What is the scope of the sample o
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1.3.4 Stage 2: Find a way in

Bearing in mind your analysis of the overt purpose of the piece of writing, whether it is explicitly social science or art, politics, entertainment etc., try to establish its basic point, its most obvious message. What is the title or headline; is it clear and ‘factual’, does it refer to some previous debate or require some sort of previous knowledge? Are there sub-headings and can you get an idea of how the ‘story’ goes from them? Skim read the introduction and the conclusion. Can yo
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Introduction

Social scientists collect evidence to support their claims and theories in different ways. Such evidence is crucial to the practice of social science and to the production of social scientific knowledge.

You may be aware of the idea of active reading, which is about reading with the aim of understanding and grasping something: a definition, an argument, a piece of evidence. What that suggests is that active reading is about reading and thinking at the same time. In
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References

Croall, H. (1998) Crime and Society in Britain, Harlow, Addison Wesley Longman.
Smith, D.J. (1997) ‘Ethnic origins, crime and criminal justice’ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2nd edn), Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Zedner, L. (1997) ‘Victims’ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Ha
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8.3 Acknowledging the sources of ideas

Even when you have used your own words it is essential that you acknowledge the source of the ideas you re-present. This entails making a note of the author and date of publication of the material from which you extract key concepts and points. So at the end of our summary of the Croall extract above, we would need to acknowledge that we got our information from that source by putting (Croall, 1998) at the end of the relevant paragraph. If you use more than one author's work in a paragraph th
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2.3 Reading techniques: focused reading

Activity 4

Have a go at reading The Scotsman article again, this time in a more focused way. Think about each section of the text, breaking off at regular intervals in order to identify and extract the main points or examples, a
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2.1 Reading techniques: scanning

There are three main techniques that you can use in order to read in such a way as to achieve your purpose: scanning, skimming, and focused reading. Let's take each in turn.

The technique of scanning is a useful one to use if you want to get an overview of the text you are reading as a whole – its shape, the focus of each section, the topics or key issues that are dealt with, and so on. In order to scan a piece of text you might look for sub-headings or identify key words and p
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Starting with psychology
The most ‘important and greatest puzzle’ we face as humans is ourselves (Boring, 1950, p. 56). Humans are a puzzle – one that is complex, subtle and multi-layered, and it gets even more complicated as we evolve over time and change in different contexts. When answering the question ‘What makes us who we are?’, psychologists put forward a range of explanations about why people feel, think and behave the way they do. Just when psychologists seem to understand one bit of ‘who we are’
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The autistic spectrum: From theory to practice
Most of us have a very vague and narrow concept of what autism is, based mainly on such stereotypes as Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Rain Man. In this unit you will discover that there is a wide spectrum of disorders associated with autism, and an equally wide range of approaches to diagnosis and treatment. First published on Tue, 04 Dec 2012 as
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licencelicence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Prop
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5.4 Summary of Section 5

Many familiar themes have re-emerged in this section, together with the recognition that attention is involved in the assembly of remembered material as well as of current perceptions.

  • Attention is associated with the generation of perceptual objects.

  • In addition to being an essential part of external stimulus processing, attention influences remembered experiences.

  • ERP data show that cortical signals derived from una
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4.3 Attending across modalities

The preceding section raised the issue of attention operating (and to some extent failing) across two sensory modalities. By focusing on distraction we ignored the fact that sight and sound (and other senses) often convey mutually supporting information. A classic example is lip-reading. Although few of us would claim any lip-reading skills, it turns out that, particularly in noisy surroundings, we supplement our hearing considerably by watching lip movements. If attention is concerned with u
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2.3 Towards a theory of parallel processing

When people are asked to guess about masked material, they are commonly able to provide some information, but it often lacks detail. For example, if participants in a Sperling-type experiment have recalled three letters, but are pressed for more, then they can often provide one or two. However, they generally do not know information such as whereabouts in the display the letters occurred, or what colour they were. These, of course, are exactly the kinds of detail that can be used to select it
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1.4 Eavesdropping on the unattended message

It was not long before researchers devised more complex ways of testing Broadbent's theory of attention, and it soon became clear that it could not be entirely correct. Even in the absence of formal experiments, common experiences might lead one to question the theory. An oft-cited example is the cocktail party effect. Imagine you are attending a noisy party, but your auditory location system is working wonderfully, enabling you to focus upon one particular conversation. Suddenly, from
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