Many texts are more persuasive than you might initially think. In the case of an advertisement or a newspaper column, it is obvious that these are aimed at convincing the reader of a certain viewpoint. But also a news report aims to persuade us that the story presented is true, a literary text wants us to accept that its characters and places are real and that they mirror our own experiences. Even academic research reports are persuasive in that their writers attempt to convince us that the report’s conclusions are valid.
Let’s look at the role that critical reading plays in the academic world. Just because something is claimed in an official report or (academic or peer-reviewed) publication, it does not mean that it is accurate per se. Something else to bear in mind is that the quality of (academic) research varies, which is why being able to critique is so important. Now that so much information can be easily shared online without any screening or review, it has become even more important to question the content we consume.
Academic courses require more of you than mere reading comprehension. You should also be able to react to and recall information and integrate the information from any (required) readings in your own thinking and work. Without these skills, you may find academic reading unexpectedly difficult and demanding because you feel uninformed and underprepared for the demands and expectations from lecturers. You will need to be more than a ‘surface reader’ and with the skills and strategies that will be presented in the following sections, you’re well on your way!