How Do I Get Started? Preliminary Considerations

Ask questions. Ask questions that probe beyond the obvious, the clearly stated, the facts. Instead the questions should ask "why," "how," "what does this mean," and "how does this connect to (or differ from or relate similarly to)" other things I know or think. You ask yourself about the context of the text and its author, suppositions inherent to that context. Then you go back to the original, skimming or scanning for places that address your questions. You look for specific kinds of information, rather like scanning a telephone book until you find what you're looking for. Once you find an area that looks promising, then you read the text more closely, looking for cues that answer the probing questions you've developed.

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