Here is a quick scanning exercise. Below are the title, abstract and other reference details of an academic journal article. Suppose you are interested in the management issue of retaining valued employees. You want to know about why employees might wish to leave, whether the main reasons are the same in all sectors, and what might be done to retain valued employees.
How relevant is this article likely to be to this management issue? Scan the text to answer these questions:
1. What is the focus of the article?
2. Which sector does the study cover and which group of employees are involved?
3. What were the main reasons why some employees considered leaving?
4. How much evidence is offered?
5. what are managers doing to retain nurses?
Our answers are:
1. the focus is on employee retention and intentions to leave
2. the sector is healthcare in Singapore
3. reasons why nurses considered leaving included inadequate staffing, poor salaries and welfare
4. this is a report of research using a self-report questionnaire administered to 120 nurses
5. management strategies are not mentioned but it is indicated that recommendations are made, so this article would have to be read to find out what they are
Scanning longer texts obviously takes more time. So it is worth getting clear what you are looking for from a long text, and then thinking about where in the text you are likely to find it. In this case, you might download the whole article so that you can find out what nurse retention strategies are recommended for managers. Where would you look? We suggest going straight to the conclusion, because recommendations for practice will probably be warranted by the findings. So the findings will be presented first so that the authors can demonstrate that their recommendations should be accepted, since they follow from what has been found out in the empirical setting.
If you would like to see if our hunch is correct and you have access to the journal from your library, download the article. Scan the text to see where the recommendations are mentioned. Or else take a shortcut and use the electronic wordsearch facility!