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Evaluating Sources: Critical Reading Questions

Critical reading strategies for scholarly sources

Scholarly sources are "peer-reviewed" essays and articles that use new research findings and theoretical tools to contribute to ongoing conversations within and across various disciplines.

As you read (and reread) your scholarly sources, try to answer the following questions.

1.  What problem/question is the author posing?

  • Who else seems to be engaged in the conversation about this problem/question? (Be specific.)
  • How does that problem/question relate to and/or differ from the problem you're posing in your research project? (Remember that a problem is not a thesis or conclusion. Those come later.)

2.  What kind of knowledge, methods, and archives does the author use in order to address that problem/question?

  • Are there other kinds of knowledge, methods, and archives that you think might be helpful, but that the author does not draw on? 

3. What is the author's argument?

  • How do you assess it? (Are you persuaded by/satisfied with the author's argument?)
  • How is that argument shaped by the evidence and methods the author uses (and doesn't use)?

4. How might other scholars assess this article?


Image: jamelah e. What am i reading? 2006. Flickr Creative Commons. 30 August 2010.

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