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Academic Skills - Critical Reading

Updated Thursday, 6 May 2021
When reading an academic piece of work, such as a journal article or book chapter, it helps to apply a series of questions to it. This ensures that you are engaging in critical and analytical reading in your research.

UR WGU Academic Skills - Critical Reading

Identify what is important:

  • What are the key ideas, problems, arguments, observations, findings, conclusions?
  • What evidence is there?
  • Distinguish critical from other types of writing (eg descriptive); fact from opinion; bias from reasons

Evaluate what you find:

  • Explore the evidence - does it convince?
  • What assumptions are being made and inferences drawn?
  • Is there engagement with relevant, up to date research?
  • How appropriate are the methods of investigation?
  • Is there a consistent and logical line of reasoning?
  • Are there any flaws in the argument?
  • Do you agree with what's being said? Why?
  • How is language being used (emotive, biased etc.)?

Look beyond what you are reading/hearing:

  • What other viewpoints, interpretations and perspectives are there? What's the evidence for these? How do they compare?
  • How does your prior knowledge and understanding relate to these ideas, findings, observations etc.?
  • What are the implications of what you are reading/hearing?

Clarifying your point of view:

  • Weigh up the relevant research in the area
  • Find effective reasons and evidence for your views
  • Reach conclusions on the basis of your reasoning
  • Illustrate your reasons with effective examples


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