Reading Scholarly Articles: Part One

by Kristoffer Warren

When I entered college, “scholarly reading” was an entirely new concept to me. Reading high school classics like Hamlet did not prepare me for Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality or other texts by scholars, researchers, and scientists. When I had my first reading assignment at the university I felt overwhelmed. Ten minutes into the reading I had trouble recalling what I had just read. I remember reading sentences over and over again, but I could not figure out what the author was saying. It became so frustrating that I ended up heatedly skimming the article and setting the text aside. During class the next day, I had no valid input from the reading, and I did my best to stay below the radar of discussion.

In the following weeks, I continued to frustratingly skim my assigned readings to only set them aside in aggravation – until I saw that my class participation was falling. I realized that I needed a change and decided that it was time to give a dang. The next reading I received was long and not clearly written, but I read the entire thing. To read what was about sixteen pages took roughly two hours. I could read like three Archie Comics in that time! It felt like the longest assignment in my life. But because I had initiative, it was the first step to a life of effective academic reading.

 

This is part one of a series on reading scholarly articles. Up next: tips on how to get through difficult readings.

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