Friday, July 23, 2004

Critical Reading Towards Critical Writing

Critical Reading Towards Critical Writing

Some Practical Tips
1- Critical reading occurs after some preliminary processes of reading. Begin by skimming research materials, especially introductions and conclusions, in order to strategically choose where to focus your critical efforts.

2- When highlighting a text or taking notes from it, teach yourself to highlight argument: those places in a text where an author explains her analytical moves, the concepts she uses, how she uses them, how she arrives at conclusions. Don't let yourself foreground and isolate facts and examples, no matter how interesting they may be. First, look for the large patterns that give purpose, order, and meaning to those examples. The opening sentences of paragraphs can be important to this task.

3- When you begin to think about how you might use a portion of a text in the argument you are forging in your own paper, try to remain aware of how this portion fits into the whole argument from which it is taken. Paying attention to context is a fundamental critical move.

4- When you quote directly from a source, use the quotation critically. This means that you should not substitute the quotation for your own articulation of a point. Rather, introduce the quotation by laying out the judgments you are making about it, and the reasons why you are using it. Often a quotation is followed by some further analysis.

5-Critical reading skills are also critical listening skills. In your lectures, listen not only for information but also for ways of thinking (see the Health Sciences Writing Centre's link on Making Notes from Lectures). Your instructor will often explicate and model ways of thinking appropriate to a discipline.