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Library Guides

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New to the University

A series of guides for students new to university.

What are journals?

Journals are collections of articles written by experts in  a given field. In a way they are a bit like an academic magazine. Every subject area or profession will have a number of journals connected to it that professionals will use to keep up to date with the latest things that are going on in their specialist area. Journals can be very useful to use as part of your reading and research. Many specialist journals can be accessed online and you can get help with this from the library staff on all campuses

Journal articles can be very useful to read as they are written by experts in a particular field and always include the most current information as they are usually published about three or four times a year. You will be given guidance on which journals to use by your subject tutors.

What is skimming?

When we skim a text it means that we look over it quickly to get the main idea.

You can also skim to help you to decide if a text is going to be useful to you or not.

How to skim

Check the date of publication - this will help you to see how current the information is.

Look at the headings and subheadings - skimming through the text and reading the headings will show you how the text has been divided up and you will be able to see how much of it is relevant to you.

Skim abstracts and introductions - this can give you a good idea of what the rest of the material will be about.

Skim the conclusion - the most important information will be summarised here, so read through this.

Skimming a journal

Alongside journal articles, reports and pieces of research often use abstracts.

Skimming the abstract. An abstract is found at the beginning of an article, research paper or report and is a summary of the main points that will be covered in the rest of the text. Abstracts are a good place to begin skimming as they show results and findings, explain how research or experiments have been carried out and offer conclusions and recommendations. It should be easy to see from skimming the abstract if the article or report will be useful to you.

It can also be useful to skim read the introduction and conclusions and recommendations sections as these will provide background information, as well as key findings.

How to skim a book

Read the blurb  - The blurb of a book is found either on the back , or on the inside of the book's front cover. The blurn gives information about what can be found inside the book and why it is worth reading. Checking the blurn can be a good way of deciding if a bokk is worth reading or not .

Look at the contents page  - The contents page shows what information is included in the book and where the information can be found. The contents page will be found at the beginning of the book.

Look at the index page  - The index page tells you how many pages of the book have been allocated to a particular topic. This is an important page to check as you may find that although the general topic you are looking at is in the book there may not be much information relating to it. For example , if you were writing an essay about primary school education in Ghana. The contents page may show a chapter on education in Ghana, but then you might check the index and see that there is no onformation on primary education in Ghana.

Close reading

When you have found a section of the text that you think is relevant to you you should read it closely. This means that you read every word of the section of text carefully. It is a  good idea to make notes after you have read so you can see how much you have absorbed. Don't forget to make a note of the source you have used.

What is scanning?

When we scan it means we are looking for specific information.It means that you are reading parts of the text in detail but you are not reading every word of the text.

Scanning often involves looking for answers to particular questions that you may have wanted answering as part of your essay.

Scanning is also commonly used to look for data that can be used in the assignment you are writing.

Sometimes you will be given key things to look for in an assignment or seminar task and you will need to scan to find those particular things.


How to scan

Have a clear idea about what you want to find out from the text. Make a list of questions you would like to have the answers to and then look for them in the text.

Use any key words, or dates to help you identify important sections in the text. For example if you were looking at health reforms in the UK between 2013 and 2016 you would be scanning to see if you could see UK/2013/2014/2015 or 2016 within the text. When you find any of your key words or dates, read through that section.

Once you have identified important sections of the text you should read carefully. This is to make sure that you have thoroughly understood what is being said and not just made a general note of the information you have been looking for.

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