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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Critical reading process


Reading critically requires active reading. Asking questions as you read forms the basis of critical reading. Questions like those listed below help you to maintain focus while reading, to examine the claims and evidence presented, and to think about the deeper implications.

What is the writer's argument? What is the writer's main claim (in one sentence)? Argument
What are the main points/claims that support that argument (one sentence each)?
Does the writer attempt to address the stated point of view? Is it successful?
What kinds of evidence does the author present to support these points (quality and quantity)?
Consider: is the evidence provided relevant, reliable and current?
Where does it come from?

Are the main points directly and logically linked to the argument?

Look for examples of how they are linked. Also look for examples of information that is not relevant or explained well.


Are there assumptions/perspectives that underpin the argument? What are they? Are there assumptions based on a theoretical perspective?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the text? Does it make an important contribution to the field? Evaluation


Additional tips

  • Have a pen or pencil with you as you read to note down key ideas and supporting information or evidence that the writer uses as well as noting your own ideas and reactions to the reading.
  • Add short summaries or comments in the margins of a text. Post-it notes and coloured labels can assist in your note taking.
  • Many e-books and articles in PDFcan be annotated and highlighted, so you can add your own comments and export them to your files.
  • Use efficient reading skills to survey, skim and scan the text before you analyse, interpret and evaluate the text. (See Reading skills)