How to be a critical reader
How to be a critical reader

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How to be a critical reader


In this course you will focus on how to be a critical reader. Reading critically is an essential skill at university. It means being aware of your own purposes and opinions as you read and being able to recognise the author’s purposes and opinions in their writing.

The texts used in this course all present arguments in different ways. Argument texts are common across disciplines. For example, science texts will provide evidence to support theories, texts in social sciences will debate the theoretical aspects of a range of topics. Whether you are studying humanities, social sciences, science or technology, you will need to judge whether a text is an appropriate and reliable source. Some texts will be more factual than others and some will attempt to influence your opinions.

The purpose of the questions you ask in this course will be to evaluate what you are reading. As you do the activities you will develop your ability to read critically by asking questions about:

  • the source of the text and the status of the author
  • which subject area the text is from and your own knowledge and opinions on the subject
  • the author’s beliefs and attitudes and how these are expressed in the text
  • what the text says and does, and how
  • what the author’s purpose is in writing
  • the use of evidence to support claims and the balance of fact and opinion.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course L185 English for academic purposes online [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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