How to Read More Articles

A key part of academic life is reading – reading all of the necessary research literature. Now, you could never hope to read it all. But you could improve your reading through marginal gains. Making changes that result in small improvements that compound. Read daily. Queue your reading. Read on devices, not just computer or paper.


During school, I rarely read. In fact, I only read because I had to. That was either the textbook or the novel that we had to study for English. Then at the university, it was exactly the same thing. I basically only read the textbooks that we needed to read. Friends tried to get me interested in reading in general, but I just wasn't into it.

Then when I hit the workforce, a colleague tried a different approach. She suggested that I read the news and just read the opinion pages of the newspaper every single day, and because we had time and newspapers were hard copy then. That was a really useful way of encouraging me into reading. After I got into more and more reading, then developed you know, of those opinion pieces. I then developed my interest and started to seek out materials and better understood the kinds of work that I read. So, I'll probably say for most of my life up until that point, I didn't know what I like and what I liked to read. And so, by reading more and diverse materials, I quickly learned what I like to read. But other than reading newspaper articles as a way as an entry into easy reading, one of the things that I think has also been useful is the 20 pages a day strategy which James Clear uses. I reckon that can improve how many articles you read per week, and therefore how many how across the literature you are.

So, the 20 pages a day is exactly what it is. It's basically sit down for however long it takes to read 20 pages of content per day. Now for me reading business books or reading books that I enjoy which tend to be business books and biographies, they're not big, and there's not a lot of text per page. So, 20 pages is the perfect amount for me. But for you as a researcher, you might find that 20 pages of research articles might get a bit dense, might get a bit hard to progress through. So, you'll have to work out what the exact amount is. So rather than trying to sit down and you know today, I'm going to read 5 articles because I've got to write a lit review or I've got to understand a method or so and so publish this awesome work, just aim to read 20 pages a day, and those 20 pages I guarantee you will add up. It'll make you faster than the average academic in the US, it'll make you faster than the average academic in Australia, and all it is is 20 minutes, 20 pages per day, every weekday as well. I'm not talking about weekends here, just every weekday.

So, let me know how it goes 20 pages a day.