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Sign up for the Oberlin New York Times pass (instructions to the right).
Skim the following three pieces of writing (see below for tips on doing this effectively.) Take annotations, and engage with the following questions:
- What argument is the work making?
- Who is the intended audience?
- How was the piece produced? What kinds of editing or research processes were used?
- How did the authors cite their sources, or provide evidence for their claims?
- What if any additional research steps could you take to verify claims made in the work?
Tips for skimming and retaining information
What is skimming?
Skimming is reading quickly to take away the main argument and facts presented in a work, without reading closely to engage with every single piece of evidence used to support the thesis. Think of skimming like extracting an outline from a piece of writing - the more you know about how writing is usually structured, the better able you will be to engage with it quickly, pull out essential information, and determine which works or sections of works warrant closer reading.
- Look for key ideas.
- Look for a thesis statement and the main evidence supporting it, or key facts about an event, like who, what, when where, and why.
- Beginnings and endings
- Most writing is structured to sum key ideas in the first and last paragraphs or chapters, so read those first! Many paragraphs are also structured this way, so you can apply the same technique to sentences within a paragraph
- Skim for names, dates, figures, section headings. Writing is often visually organized to draw your eye to important information.
- Learn more about skimming:
- Ask: Is it opinion or fact-based reporting? These different types of writing have different structures.
- News or fact-based reporting typically attempts to present impartial or objective facts about important events.
- Finding the key facts about the events being covered: who, what, when, where, why, and how, is essential to understanding the work. Typically these will be presented early in the article. Skimming for names and dates can help to pinpoint them.
- Long form news writing can be structured around a fact-based thesis statement that makes an argument, often an argument about cause and effect. In this case, finding the thesis statement will be essential to understanding the work.
- Opinion, editorials, columns, and letters are special sections of newspapers or magazines that provide an opinion or point of view. Look for labels like opinion, editorial, column, or letter.
- Identifying the argument being made is essential to quickly understanding the work. It will typically be stated at the beginning.
- Learn more about news and opinion sections:
- Read the headline. The headline should sum up the article, but be aware that often it is not written by the journalist who wrote the article, but by experts in driving traffic to news websites. Readers sharing content on social media after only having read a headline is one way for misinformation to spread online.
- Read the first paragraph. Many newspaper articles are structured to place important facts in the first paragraph (the "lead" or "lede.") A straight lede (aka a summary lead) will place important facts (who, what, when, where, how) in this paragraph. Articles structured with other types of ledes designed to entice readers will often place important facts or a summary of their thesis statement immediately after the lede.
- Anecdotal lead: A short story that illustrates the thesis of the article and grabs attention.
- Scene-setting lead: An evocative description of a location.
- Learn about leads (there are more types!):
Scholarly Writing Tips
Read the article in the following order:
- Introduction (Tip #1: highlight important ideas!)
- First and last sentences of each section (e.g. Literature Review, Methods, Conclusion, etc.)
- First and last sentence of each paragraph (Tip #2: Take notes!)
- Entire article, as time permits
New York Times Pass
Institutional access to the NYTimes.com is provided to all current Oberlin College students, faculty, and staff.
If you are new to campus or have not previously registered for Oberlin's institutional NYTimes access
- While on campus and connected to the Oberlin’s network, visit accessnyt.com.
- Create an account (claim a Pass) using your @oberlin.edu email address.
- You have successfully claimed a Pass when you see the Start Your Access screen.
Once registered you’ll be able to access NYTimes.com by logging into your account from any computer/tablet/device you use.
Students: when registering you will be asked for your date of graduation from Oberlin; your status will stay active through that date, with no need to reactivate/re-authenticate.
Faculty/staff: you will have to re-authenticate annually, 364 days from when you last registered/authenticated for your NYTimes.com Pass. You may not reactivate your Pass until your previous access has expired.
To reactivate your Pass:
- While on-site and connected to the Oberlin’s network, visit accessnyt.com.
- Make sure you are logged into the NYTimes.com account with which you activated your last Pass.
- You will be granted a new Pass and see the Start Your Access screen.
- The new Pass will be good for 364 days.
Please contact the research help desk with any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org.