Critical reading: how do you do it?

Before getting to writing your paper, you'll need to read up on your subject. The portal for Ghent University students proposes the following three steps.


Scan the source

  • Read the title and subtitle.
  • Look at the date of publication. Aim for recent publications.
  • Doublecheck how relevant and reliable the author is. (Are they a researcher? At which institution? etc)
  • If the source is a book, read the back.
  • If the source is a book, read the table of contents and mark the chapters that are relevant to you.
  • Leaf through the source. Check the headings, look at the graphs and tables.


Read the text diagonally

  • If there is an abstract, read it beforehand.
  • Read the introduction and conclusion.
  • Read the first and last sentences of a paragraph. If the text is well-written, those should contain the essence of the paragraph.


Read the text in full

  • Read the text in full: you could mark the essence of the text to distinguish it from the details.
  • Visualise the information in a schema so you can find the information again easily.
  • Think about the type of connections in the source. Signal words are handy to make distinctions.

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Last modified May 3, 2024, 9:57 a.m.