Question as you read
Think of some questions before you start reading in depth and keep these in mind as you read. You may want to add more as you become familiar with the author's ideas and arguments.
The questions you ask depend on the type of text you are reading. Here are some general questions.
Before you begin reading
- What do I think now?
- Why do I think this?
- What do I want to find out?
Questioning the writing
- What is the author's main argument?
- How good is the evidence for the argument?
- Is it convincing? Why/ why not?
- What are the limitations or flaws in the evidence?
- What would I like to ask the author?
- What are the implications?
- Can the theory be disproved or is it too general?
- Which examples would prove the opposite theory?
- What are the alternatives?
- Who else has written on the topic?
- What are other writers' opinions?
Form your own opinion
- Which bits of the author's argument do I want to use/ reflect on in my essay?
- Do I agree? If so, why?
- How do the author's ideas fit in with my own?
- How do they fit with other relevant theories/ideas?
- How does they contrast with other theories/ideas?
- Is my own theory/idea still valid? If so, why?
- Am I surprised by any of the reading? If so, why?
Before you do the activity, look at Approaches to reading.
This activity will help you practice critical reading by questioning as you read. Choose an essay title below and then look at the text for suggested reading. Write down any questions that you'd like to find out and anything that comes to mind as you're reading. You can do this on a piece of paper or using an appropriate app on your phone or tablet.
Essay title: Is capitalism the cause of or solution to environmental problems?
Suggested reading: Ecology and Society: An Introduction [pdf 1.0 MB] by Luke Martell pages 62-72.
Essay title: What are the influences affecting children's acquisition of gender roles?
Suggested reading: Chapter 5 Gender Identity and the development of gender roles [pdf 1.8 MB] by Robin Banerjee (This text has been used with permission from the publisher. Please note: Copyright © The Open University 2005 All rights reserved)