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How to read critically

1. Read the text for basic comprehension — read with the author

(suspend your own judgement for now) 

  • Who wrote and published the article? What is their background?
  • What are the key concepts or ideas?
  • What is argued and how it is argued for?
  • What methodology was used (eg, literary sources, theory, surveys, statistical data, historical evidence, etc.)?

Logic of the Writer’s argument [SUNY Empire State College] 

2. Read critically — test the author

  • Does the evidence strongly support what is being argued for?
  • Is the evidence presented reliable? Are the sources credible?
  • Are there any limitations in the evidence (e.g., too broad, too narrow, etc.)?
  • Could better or more evidence be provided?
  • Are there any assumptions made that are not argued for?
  • What might an opposing argument be? (e.g., does the author’s view contrast with other readings?)
  • Would the argument in the reading still be strong if it faced this opposition?

 Read and Write Critically [SUNY Empire State College]

3. Construct a response

  • Make brief notes as you read
  • Highlight your areas of concern
  • Make a mindmap or concept map to ‘see the big picture’
  • Write a draft paragraph that expresses your overall view of the reading

Evaluating the Author [SUNY Empire State College] 

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