Skim Reading: How to do it?

While teaching the students to understand methods of investigation (which is the class they enroll for) in their first research topic, other little parts that is as important as methods in the areas of research cannot be omitted.

One of them is reading, in order to construct literature review.

How to teach the student to choose the right material to read and most importantly how to select the material, what to drop and what to read?

My answer is skim reading method. To be able to know what to take on further and what not to in terms of reading materials, we still need to read, but we have to know how to spend and make used of our reading time in reading piles of the secondary research that we think relevant to our research. Skim reading allow us to go through our reading materials but provide assistant in developing the skills ‘to skip’ and ‘to focus’ when it needed.

Now I am not the expert of the area in skim reading, but I like to share lecture handout by Dori Tunstall. A blog by Timothy Burke on ‘How to read in the college?’ who will help you to understand further and how to do skim reading in research. His directions are well explained, nothing fancy instead it is clear and easy to understand.

Of course there are others, but Burke take you in the process of doing the skim reading in his blog, step by step. I found that very useful for a slow reader like me and also English as my second language. There are another interesting discussion blog about reading called Savage Mind, based on the effort made by several authors that are actively contributed in the reading discussion. One particular interesting topic of discussion is about ‘How to Read a book in one hour’ . For me the methods suggested in this blog is like skimming a movie if you don’t want to spend time watching the whole 3 hours straight just to understand what it is about. Now, it is important to note here that skimming is only to provide the first idea of what the context of the book or the discussion topics in the book. Once you have the idea of the book then the you can start do the choosing activity, which book need further details reading and which one doesn’t. The methods used by ckelty in reading a book in one hour are mainly based on the index approach, where the index lead the reader to the topic that the reader is looking for.

Well, I hope this will provide you some idea of skim reading and that you are able to work it out in your research practice. Oh yes, as stated clearly by Burke in his blog, this skim read process required practice to master the whole process. I’m still working on my practice, how about you?