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Reading: Reading



The purpose of reading at university is to increase knowledge, prepare for assignments and exams and to inform writing. This page will focus on reading to inform your writing.

Reading techniques

Reading for your assignment will likely need three different techniques: skimming, scanning and intensive reading.

Look for the hotspots in the image to find out which bits need:

  • a skim – looking for the main idea/s and whether it is a useful text
  • a scan – looking for key words and phrases related to your topic/question
  • an intensive read – reading carefully to understand the important information and make notes if the article has proven worthy of it.

Evaluating sources

Skim reading is when you evaluate the source for whether it is:

  • A credible source
  • A relevant source for your study.

Watch the video below to learn more about evaluating online information.


Ask the following questions of your sources as you skim and or scan the article to see if they are both credible and relevant, and therefore suitable sources for your study. 


Reading reflectively and critically


Reading with purpose and engagement means reading with focus and actively thinking about what you are reading. When reading for your assignment keep keywords, phrases and questions related to your thesis in mind while reading. Being able to focus is an active skill that requires practice.

Critical reading is another level of reading. It is a deeper, more active and complex engagement with a text. Critical reading is to understand and evaluate. It takes time to develop critical reading skills.

Watch this video for 10 tips of how to read critically.



Your reading informs your writing and your writing informs your reading.

It is advised when researching for an assignment that you actually start writing after you have looked at a few articles/sources. This will enable you to check and change if necessary either your thesis statement or your research angle.