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Reading Speed with Scientific Texts

  1. Aug 11, 2012 #1
    Hey physicsforums,

    Normally I enjoy reading texts that explain or elaborate on scientific phenomena. Also, normally, these texts take me awhile to read, but I just found out that I can read fiction works A LOT faster than books where I'm legitimately learning something scientific. Is this the same for all of you? How would you compare your reading speeds with fiction works vs. scientific works?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2012 #2
    Yes, I think this is certainly true.

    The thing is that scientific texts are very dense. There is much information on very little space. So every sentence is important and should be read carefully.

    Textbooks in humanities (for example) are much less dense. They contain quite a lot of words to explain a single concept. If you skip a page in a humanities text, then you should still be able to understand most of it. This is not true for science texts!!

    Fiction works are even less dense than humanities texts. You can easily compress a fiction book to a summary of a few pages. This is impossible with a scientific text.

    I'm of course not trying to devaluate humanities texts or fiction works. But it's simply an observation. Scientific texts are dense because there are many symbols which have a very specific meaning. So a lot of the text is being compressed in mathematical symbols and scientific words. This seems to be the best way to present math and science.
    On the other hand, humanities texts does not have such a compression. It must use long sentences and words to convey the main ideas.
    And fiction works are competely different because their goal is not only to present information, but also to be aesthetically pleasing. If you compress a fiction work to 2 pages, then you might understand everything but you didn't get the reading experience. Where-as scientific texts don't really care about using fancy words.
  4. Aug 11, 2012 #3


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    I takes me about an hour per paragraph with scientific texts.
  5. Aug 11, 2012 #4
    Not only do I read texts much slower than fiction, I also reread them. I don't think I ever reread a novel.
  6. Aug 11, 2012 #5
    Problem is not just reading lines for me. But also that papers assume that you have strong background and have read all the references papers also.
  7. Aug 12, 2012 #6
    Glad I'm not the only one here that's a slower reader when it comes to scientific texts :smile:
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