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Critical reading

Critical reading

In primary school we learn to read by beginning with the first word and reading line by line until we get to the end. However, if you want to meaningfully engage with academic literature, this is neither effective, efficient nor strategic. Efficient and effective reading occurs when you are an ‘active’ reader.

Active readers identify and use efficient strategies for reading and note-making. This video shows you an effective process for academic reading and note-making.

Active readers also know:

  • why they’re reading a particular text, and
  • the background or theoretical stance of the author.

This will allow you to critically ‘interrogate’ the text; that is, ask questions about the text. It means synthesising, analysing and evaluating the information presented, and identifying underlying values and assumptions, rather than accepting it at face value.

These resources will help you read critically:


“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham; www.phdcomics.com

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