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Research Roadmaps: How to Skim a Book

Introduction to Research


Your Purpose is to identify the MAIN IDEAS


AND to locate the parts of the book relevant to your research question.


  1. Read the title and subtitle carefully.  Look at the date published, preface and/or introduction, front and back matter, author profile if there is one.
  2. Read the table of contents or chapter overview to learn the main divisions of ideas.
  3. Read the opening paragraph of each chapter. Look for a concluding paragraph at the end of the chapter.
  4. Glance through the main headings in each chapter just to see a word or two. Read the headings of charts and tables.
  5. You may choose to read the first and last sentence only of each following paragraphs. For each paragraph, read only the first few words of each sentence or to locate the main idea.
  6. Stop and quickly read the sentences containing keywords indicated in boldface or italics.
  7. When you think you have found something significant, stop to read the entire sentence to make sure. Then go on the same way. Resist the temptation to stop to read details you don't need.
  8. Read chapter summaries when provided.


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