You know the types. We're talking the highly cerebral stuff here; those awful texts dealing with chemistry, statistics, calculus, computer programming and the like. These kinds of texts require a different approach than the more conventional texts. Skimming and scanning these types of texts can get one in serious trouble. It is absolutely essential in approaching these types of texts that you proceed in a logical, unhurried and deliberate fashion. The reason for this approach is simply that these types of texts typically build one concept on top of another. Unlike a frontier western movie, you can't come in twenty minutes late and grasp the plot within five minutes. It is important to take things in order and approach the material in the following manner:
Definitions and terms will likely include some unique to the study at hand. Some may be very complex. You are learning a language here. Failure to invest the time and effort to get this first step accomplished each time a new term or concept is introduced leaves you out of the communication process moving ahead.
Examples are proof that even technical writers can have a sense of mercy. They include examples as a way of linking something totally unfamiliar to us, to something with which we can relate and therefore, have an outside chance at comprehending complex theories. Make every effort to examine and study each example.
Classifications and listings become important in sorting like kinds into groups. This is done extensively in biology, for instance, where insects are grouped into orders, and classes and species and the like. In many cases, if you know the definition and make-up of a class or order, you can figure out which class a particular animal or insect should be placed into.
Comparing and contrasting aids understanding by holding up one concept and showing how it differs from another concept or how it may be similar to one covered earlier or with another term we may be familiar with.
Cause and effect relationships are the basis of scientific research. These may be involved, with one cause producing several different effects. Be aware of these types of relationships when presented.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013