Skimming and Scanning

Skimming is used to quickly identify the main ideas of a text. When you read the newspaper, you're probably not reading it word-by-word, instead you're scanning the text. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. Use skimming when you want to see if an article may be of interest in your research. There are many strategies that can be used when skimming. Some people read the first and last paragraphs using headings, summarizes and other organizers as they move down the page or screen. You might read the title, subtitles, subheading, and illustrations. Consider reading the first sentence of each paragraph. This technique is useful when you're seeking specific information rather than reading for comprehension. Skimming works well to find dates, names, and places. It might be used to review graphs, tables, and charts. Scanning is a technique you often use when looking up a word in the telephone book or dictionary. You search for key words or ideas. In most cases, you know what you're looking for, so you're concentrating on finding a particular answer. Scanning involves moving your eyes quickly down the page seeking specific words and phrases. Scanning is also used when you first find a resource to determine whether it will answer your questions. Once you've scanned the document, you might go back and skim it. When scanning, look for the author's use of organizers such as numbers, letters, steps, or the words, first, second, or next. Look for words that are bold faced, italics, or in a different font size, style, or color. Sometimes the author will put key ideas in the margin. Reading off a computer screen has become a growing concern. Research shows that people have more difficulty reading off a computer screen than off paper. Although they can read and comprehend at the same rate as paper, skimming on the computer is much slower than on paper.  

How to Read an English Technical text-a four-step guide for students (and teachers)
Reading technical research papers is a matter of experience and skills in order to learn the specific vocabulary of a field. First of all, DON'T PANIC! If you approach it step by step, even an impossible-looking paper can be understood. 1. Skimming. Skim the paper quickly, carefully review for headings, figures and the purpose of the reading. This takes just a few minutes. You're not trying to understand it yet, but just to get an overview. 2. Vocabulary. Go through the paper word by word and line by line, underlining or highlighting every word and phrase you don't understand. Don't worry if there are a lot of underlining; When you start, you are not trying to make sense of the article. Now you have several things you might do with these vocabulary and questions, depending on every question you can: a. Look for simple words and phrases. Often the question is simply vocabulary—what is an allen wrench, bult, or the semilunar valve. A technical English dictionary is a good place to look for definitions. Your ordinary shelf dictionary is not a good source, because the definitions may not be precise enough or may not reflect the way in which engineers use a word (for example "stress" has a common definition, but the technical definition is totally diferent.) Get an understanding from the context in which it is used. Often words that are used to describe the procedures used in Engineering can be understood from the context, and may be very specific to the paper you are reading. For example, technical procedures to extract “light Oil” or “extra heavy Oil” at well site are totally different. Of course, you should be careful when deciding that you understand a word from its context, because it might not mean what you think.


3. Comprehension, section by section. Try to deal with all the words and phrases, probably there will be a few technical terms that you won’t understand. Now go back and read the whole paper, section by section, for comprehension. 4. Reflection and criticism. After you understand the article and can summarize it, then you can return to questions and draw your own conclusions. It is very useful to keep track of your questions as you go along, returning to see whether they have been answered. Often, the simple questions may contain the seeds of very deep thoughts about the work.