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Academic Reading


Reading an academic text differs in many ways from reading comics, novels and magazines. Two important differences are:

Content and style of academic texts

Academic texts deal with concepts and ideas related to subjects that are studied at college or university.

Authors of academic texts:

  • raise abstract questions and issues.
  • present facts and evidence to support their claims.
  • use logic to build their arguments and defend their positions.
  • conform to a clearly-defined structure.
  • choose their words carefully to present their arguments as effectively as possible.
  • try to convince us to accept their positions.

What are readers of academic texts expected to do?

When you read an academic text you are expected to do much more than simply understand the words of the text and summarize main ideas.

Readers at college or university level are also expected to:

  • recognize the author's purpose and possible bias.
  • differentiate between facts and author's opinions.
  • challenge questionable assumptions and unsupported claims.
  • think about possible consequences of the author's claims.
  • integrate information across multiple sources.
  • identify rival hypotheses, possible contradictions and competing views.
  • evaluate evidence and draw their own conclusions instead of simply accepting what the author says.

Doing all this isn't easy – and becomes almost impossible if you don’t know the meaning of the words you read.

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