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MHS Library | Academic Reading

What is your purpose?

First, ask yourself: what is your purpose?

  • Reading from start to finish
  • Skimming only for what you need.
  • Skimming a chapter/section.
  • Searching for information/statistics about something specific. 

During reading

  • Annotate and mark (sparingly) sections of the text to easily recall important or interesting ideas
  • Check your predictions and find answers to posed questions
  • Use headings and transition words to identify relationships in the text
  • Create a vocabulary list of other unfamiliar words to define later
  • Try to infer unfamiliar words’ meanings by identifying their relationship to the main idea
  • Connect the text to what you already know about the topic
  • Take breaks (split the text into segments if necessary)
  • Sample annotated texts – Journal article · Book chapter excerpt

After reading

  • Summarize the text in your own words (note what you learned, impressions, and reactions) in an outline, concept map, or matrix (for several texts)
  • Talk to someone about the author’s ideas to check your comprehension
  • Identify and reread difficult parts of the text
  • Define words on your vocabulary list (try a learner’s dictionary) and practice using them
  • Sample graphic organizers – Concept map · Literature review matrix

Source: The Writing Centre (The University of North Carolina)

Previewing, skimming, scanning, intensive reading

How to save time in academic reading by the University of NSW


1. Previewing the text to get an overview

What is it? Previewing a text means that you get an idea of what it is about without reading the main body of the text.

When to use it: to help you decide whether a book or journal is useful for your purpose; to get a general sense of the article structure, to help you locate relevant information; to help you to identify the sections of the text you may need to read and the sections you can omit.

To preview, start by reading:

  • the title and author details
  • the abstract (if there is one)
  • then read only the parts that ‘jump out’; that is: main headings and subheadings, chapter summaries, any highlighted text etc.
  • examine any illustrations, graphs, tables or diagrams and their captions, as these usually summarise the content of large slabs of text
  • the first sentence in each paragraph

Read about skimming, scanning and intensive reading.

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Guide created by Tania Sheko. Contact me