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5 Tips To Sift Through A Long Sustainability Paper

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The science behind environmental topics such as climate change is incredibly complicated. Carbon Brief published a very detailed article on some of the most widely referenced papers on climate change. Here are a few of the papers on this growing body of research:

  • Spatial and temporal patterns of mass bleaching of corals in the Anthropocene
  • Decreases in global beer supply due to extreme drought and heat
  • Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation

As you can imagine, these aren’t short research papers on climate science.  They require a very extensive amount of research and it takes a lot of space to document the findings of major environmental topics.

It is true that the overall findings can be condensed into a brief article. NASA has a webpage discussing some of the changes in climate science, which is summarized into a single chart that talks about the general temperature anomaly.

However, you can’t see much context with such a brief synopsis of such a complex issue as climate change. You would need to read the papers in their entirety to get a better idea of what was going on.

If you want to understand the evolving science of climate change, then you need to be able to read these studies thoroughly.

Speed Reading Guidelines for Sifting Through Climate Change Papers

Marcel Proust’s ‘Remembrance of things past’ is a whopping 4215 pages long, covering seven volumes. Thankfully, most of us will never have to plough our way through that particular document. However, there are times when we all need to absorb a large amount of information in a small amount of time.  Most papers on climate change aren’t that long, but they can easily be over 100 pages.

Having to read – and understand – a huge paper on climate change can be daunting but, it needn’t be overwhelming.  We spoke with some experts from ultimatebanners. Reading – and understanding large amounts of content is a big part of what these experts do. When it comes to speed reading. We have a few tricks up our sleeve that can help people trying to research a climate science paper. These are as follows:

Preview and review the climate science paper

Before wading into a huge reading project, it’s a good idea to scan the book or document first.  Most papers on climate science are available at sites like Academia, so you can scan them easily. Flip through the pages and take note of chapter and paragraph headings.  Not only will this give you the gist of the project, it will also highlight the sections that you need to focus on and, those which you can skip. 

It’s all in the planning

Now that you’ve got an idea of the content of a climate change paper, it’s time to plan your approach to researching it at this stage, there are two things you need to ask yourself. What do you want to learn? Climate science involves a lot of variables, so you need to know what you want to focus on. And, what questions are you hoping to answer?  Write down the answers to these questions and, then, cross reference them against the notes you made during your preview.  You’ve now got a sensible and workable plan for when you start reading plus, by breaking the project down into chunks like this, it will appear a lot less daunting.

A place and time

When embarking on your reading project, the environment is very important- which rules out a noisy coffee shop or busy office.  If you’re required to complete the project within your workplace then find an empty office or boardroom as distractions are your arch enemy when it comes to concentration and focus.  Don’t forget to take short breaks, even if you’re on a tight deadline, as this will help you to absorb what you’ve read as well as giving your eyes a rest.

It’s only words

In your preview stage, you chopped out some unnecessary sections but, it doesn’t stop there.  Unless the text is particularly complex, you don’t need to focus on – or even read – every single word to get the meaning.  You can usually scan a few sentences at a time without losing understanding – and you can also make a note to return to a section later if you need to.


Ahh, the internet – the source of a lot of our frustration but, also, our biggest time saving invention.  If the book or document you’ve been tasked with is available online (or even as a digital document), you may be able to run a search of the document on your computer.  This can help you by quickly highlighting the pages that you need to focus on, as well as letting you copy and paste some sections for your notes.

The art of speed reading is one that takes a little practice – and a lot of planning – but is worth effort.  This process will allow you to digest a huge amount of data in a fraction of the time that it would normally take – which is invaluable when you’re up against a deadline or two.  Happy reading!

Follow the Right Approach to Researching Climate Change Papers

Climate change papers are very complicated. You are going to need to know how to review them carefully if you want to learn more about this daunting subject. Fortunately, there are a lot of speed-reading tips that will help.


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