Critical Reading Strategies

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Critical Reading Strategies: Overview of Research Process
Week 3/4
2 Critical Reading & Thinking
Critical reading is a technique for discovering information and ideas within a text
Critical thinking is a technique for evaluating information and ideas, for deciding
what to accept and believe .Critical reading refers to a careful, active, reflective,
analytic reading. Critical thinking involves reflecting on the validity of what you
have read in light of the prior knowledge and understanding.
3 Goals of Critical Reading
To recognize an author’s purpose
To understand tone and convincing elements
To recognize strengths & weaknesses
Avoid asking: What information can I get out of it?
Rather Ask: How does this text work?
How is it argued?
How is the evidence used and interpreted?
How does the text reach its conclusions?
4 Four tips for Critical Reading
1. Read the paper 3 times: First read the abstract, the introduction and the
conclusion and look through the references.
Next read through the entire paper starting with the abstract again. Don't skip over
figures, re-read parts that you don't understand. Write down questions you have as
you go along.
Finally, re-read the paper critically.
Did the authors do what they said they were going to do?
What are the important ideas? (May be unimportant ideas)
Do their results make sense?
Are their methods sound?
What assumptions are they making?
How does their work fit in with other similar work?
What improvements/extensions do they contribute?
5 Four tips for Critical Reading (Cont.)
2. Make an outline of the paper. Create some organized information about the
paper that will help to sort out the details. Highlight the major points of the paper.
This can be as detailed as you need it to be.
3. Create a list of questions. About parts that you don't understand. About parts
where you question their solution/ proof/ methods/results.
4. List comparisons of this paper to other related work with which you are familiar.
6 We can summarize Four Levels of Critical Reading
Preliminary understanding: skimming
Title Abstract Identify main theme
7 Critical Reading Levels (cont)
Comprehensive understanding:Variables and conceptsTerminologyMain idea or
theme. Restate in own words
8 Critical Reading Levels (cont)
Analysis understanding:Understand partsBegin to critiqueSummarize in own words
each partSynthesis understanding:Put togetherExplain relationshipsCritique
9 Critiquing A process of objectively and critically evaluate content for scientific
merit and application to practice, theory, and education.Uses criteria: research
processFind strengths as well as weaknesses
10 Five Elements of a Scientific Paper (IMRAD)
Introduction (I)Materials and Methods (M)Results (R)Analysis (A)Discussion or
Conclusion (D)
11 General form of a research paper
An objective of organizing a research paper is to allow people to read your work
selectively.In all sections of your paper:Stay focused on the research topic of the
paperUse paragraphs to separate each important point (except for the
abstract)Present your points in logical orderAvoid informal wording, don't address
the reader directly
12 Abstract Normally 50 to 200 words.
May be written after the rest of the research is completed.Writing an
Abstract:Purpose of the study - hypothesis, overall question, objectiveModel
organization/system and brief description of the experimentResults, including
specific data - if the results are quantitative in nature.Important conclusions or
questions that follow from the experiments.
13 IntroductionThe purpose of an introduction is to explain the reader with the
rationale behind the work, with the intention of defending it. It places the work in a
theoretical context, and enables the reader to understand and appreciate the
objectives.Writing an introductionDescribe the importance (significance) of the study
- why was this worth doing in the first place? Provide a broad context.Defend the
model - why did you use this particular organism or system? What are its
advantages?Provide a rationale. State your specific hypothesis or objective, and
describe the reasoning that led you to select them.Very brief describe the
experimental design and how it accomplished the stated objectives.
14 Materials and MethodsThe objective is to document all specialized materials
and general procedures, so that another individual may use some or all of the
methods in another study or judge the scientific merit of your work.Writing a
materials and methods sectionInclude only specialized computing devices and any
equipment or supplies that are not commonly found in labs.Report the methodology
used in experiments.Describe the methodology completely.
15 ResultsThe purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings.
Make this section a completely objective report of the results, and save all
interpretation for the discussion.Summarize your findings in text and illustrate them,
if appropriate, with figures and tables.Provide a context, such as by describing the
question that was addressed by making a particular observation.ANALYZE your
data, then prepare the analyzed (converted) data in the form of a figure (graph),
table, or in text form.
16 DiscussionThe objective here is to provide an interpretation of your resultsand
support for all of your conclusions, using evidence from your experiment.If your
results differ from your expectations, explain why that may have happened.Decide
if each hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if you cannot make a decision with
confidence.You may suggest future directions, such as how the experiment might be
modified to accomplish another objective.Explain all of your observations as much
as possible.One experiment will not answer an overall question, so keeping the big
picture in mind, where do you go next? The best studies open up new avenues of
research. What questions remain?
17 Literature Cited/References
List all literature cited in your paper, in alphabetical order, by first author.
(Standards vary)In a proper research paper, only primary literature is used
(original research articles authored by the original investigators).Avoid to include a
web site as a reference.If you are citing an on line journal, use the journal citation
(name, volume, year, page numbers).Some of papers may not require references,
and if that is the case simply state that “No references were consulted."
18 Critiquing a research paper
Is the hypothesis clearly stated?Does the introduction give relevant background
information that helps you understand what was studied, and why?Is the procedure
(method) clearly stated?Did they compare like (analogous) units?Are all graphs and
tables labeled correctly, and do they clearly explain the results?Does the data
relate to the hypothesis/question? Did they collect data on all relevant variables to
answer their question?Were the results explained? Do the results support or
disprove the question or hypothesis? Did the authors consider any alternative
hypotheses? Do you notice a pattern in their results (graphs) that they don't address
in the paper?Do you agree with the conclusions?Did they address any problems in
their research, exploring how they might do things differently next time? Do they
consider what future research might be done to further answer the question?
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