Cora’s Pick: Reading Games: Strategies for Reading Scholarly Sources

by Cora Thomas

As a new graduate student at the University of Washington Bothell campus I’ve been wondering if I should adopt more efficient reading strategies for highly dense scholarly articles. Serendipitously, as I walked past a display case in the UWB Library recently, the words “Reading Games” caught my eye. As I stopped to peer at the article more closely I saw the author was the Director of the UW- Bothell Writing Center, Karen Rosenberg!

Reading Games: Strategies for Reading Scholarly Sources, is a chapter in an online peer-reviewed textbook series called Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing. Rosenberg immediately captured my attention by sharing her own experience as a graduate student. As a graduate student I am asked to “join the conversation” more explicitly than in my undergraduate work, and I learned how to do that when I read this article. Actively engaging in the text and recognizing how the author is presenting their argument in relation to other articles is key in understanding how authors dialogue between each other through their writing.

Rosenberg reassures students that it’s okay if we don’t understand the academic jargon. Students shouldn’t stress over the fact that we may not have prior knowledge of the subject to fully understand the article. Most authors are writing to a specific audience and assume that particular group will understand the terminology discussed in the article.

We all too often overlook small but helpful sign posts. Rosenberg shows how to begin understanding the main point of an article by viewing the layout as a road map that guides you through the content and author’s discussion (p. 215). Before reading the article from start to finish the first time through, Rosenberg suggests we first look at the title, abstract, introduction, section headings, and conclusion (p. 215). These steps will help answer the key question: “what is the main argument or idea in this text?” (p. 218). She explains that finding the main idea is crucial in reading the text more efficiently (p. 218). She goes on to discuss understanding the author(s) research motivations; identifying the intended audience for the text (in many instances it’s not students, but other scholars); talking about the text with peers and professors; and asking your professor why s/he assigned a particular reading.

Rosenberg’s reading tips will help students get more out of overwhelming and voluminous theory-laden articles. I highly recommend this article if you’ve ever thought to yourself after reading an article, “What did I just read?!” Check out this link below:–reading-games.pdf


Rosenberg, K. (2011). Reading Games: strategies for reading scholarly sources.  In Lowe, C., & Zemliansky, P. (Eds). Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing (Vol. 2). Parlor Press. Retrieved from–reading-games.pdf.


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