Reading at University

Universities are centres of learning that rely upon academic publications. Lecturers in each faculty are involved with with research - they contribute to it and pass developments in research on to students.

As a student, you must do more than read this research and repeat it back to lecturers in assignments and exams. You should understand the material and be able to see links between concepts.

Studying at university involves reading, thinking and writing. You will read a lot of material, some of which is provided for you and some you will need to find.

It is important to read effectively and efficiently because of the amount of reading to be covered. You will also read differently, depending on the purpose of the material, for example, you may read to gain understanding, read to support critical thinking, or read to find material to support the argument in an assignment.

Effective and efficient reading involves knowledge of academic credibility (see below) and critical analysis.

Academic credibility

There is an abundance of material accessible for students today. Types of reading materials include:

  • internet
  • journals
  • text books
  • newspapers
  • CD ROMs
  • encyclopedias.

It is important to examine this material critically to ascertain its quality before reading it and using it as support for an assignment. The general test for credibility involves determining whether the material satisfies all or most of the criteria below.

  • Do the author/s seem qualified? Examine the qualifications of the author/s if any have been supplied. Are they qualified in the field in which they are writing? Are they in a position to research in the field?
  • Is the material current? Check the year in which the material was published. Also turn to the List of References for the material. Are most of the references dated within the last 10 years? If so the material is considered current.
  • Is the material well researched? Examine the references in the list of references. Are there at least a number of references that have been published in refereed journals?  Refereed journals are ones where a volume number or issue number have been supplied. Check the publishers of the references that are books. Do they seem reputable? Are they government or university publishers or are they well known?

If the material seems to be credible by meeting all or most of these criteria, you can confidently use it as support in your assignments

There is further information available on making notes and summarising research material.