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Critical Reading

Insert your text here. Reading is an essential part of any academic study. During your course you will have to read a lot of books, journal articles and reports. You will have to absorb all this material, continue reading more and then eventually remember it all. So: Be selective you are not expected to read everything Be purposeful be aware of why you are reading Be active interacting with the text by asking questions To help you achieve this, there are four stages of reading: Overviewing This is used to select a book or article to see whether it is relevant. You can do this by reading the blurb on the back cover or looking through the contents page. Skimming This is used to get a general idea of the authors arguments. A good strategy for skimming an article is to read the introduction, the conclusion and first couple of sentences of each paragraph. Scanning This involves a more in depth examination of a text for specific information. This can involve looking up particular phrases or words in the index and then reading about them in the text, or looking at the headings of particular sections and reading the introduction to these sections. Intensive Reading - This is used to create a complete and unambiguous understanding of the authors message. The material should be understood at different levels, a comprehension level; a structural level; and an analytical level. Some useful questions to ask when reading intensively are: What does the writer want me to accept? Why? Try to pinpoint exactly what the author is arguing, which usually comes near the beginning of an article or chapter. Are there relevant and sufficient reasons for arguing their point? Look to determine the reasons the writer gives in making their point. Refer back to the writers main argument and decide if the reasons given support what they are saying. Is the argument logical? It should be the case that any piece of writing will state the argument at the beginning and then there will be reasons following this which either support or contradict the initial argument. This will be drawn together in the conclusion. Are there any exceptions? The writer might make specific claims or general ones and yet this may or may not apply to all the cases. What is the source? Who was the book or article written for? Why? What results would this organisation have wanted? How accurate is the data? It is important that any statistics that may or may not be used are accurate and objective. How old is the data that is being quoted? What conclusions does the writer make? Try and determine whether the conclusion can be drawn from what the writer has previously argued.

Academic Skills Advice Sheet

Critical Reading

Critical Reading form for use with articles and chapters Author, date, title, publication details, library code

Why am I reading this?

In general, what are the authors trying to say? What is their argument?

What are the authors saying that is relevant to what I want to find out?

How convincing is what they are saying?

In conclusion, what use can I make of this?

Code: (1) = return to this for detailed analysis; (2) = An important general text; (3) = Of minor importance; (4) = Not relevant.
Adapted from Wallace, M. & Wray, A. (2006). Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates. London: Sage Publications. P.35

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