Reading at University

Universities are centres of learning and as such revolve around what has been written and published in all the academic disciplines. Lecturers in each faculty are involved in keeping up to date with this research base, contributing to it themselves and passing it on to you as students.

Your task as a student involves more than just reading this research and repeating it back to lecturers in the form of assignments and exams. You need to process what you read in your own mind and be able to see links between concepts. You also need to understand what you have read so that you can relate concepts in the material to tasks your lecturers give you.

Studying at university then involves the relationship between reading, thinking and writing. You will need to read lot of material, some that is provided for you and some that you need to find yourself.

  • It is important to read effectively and efficiently because of the amount of reading to be covered
  • Importance of reading for different purposes eg understanding, critical thinking, to support the argument in an assignment

Effective and efficient reading involves knowledge of the following:

  • Academic credibility
  • Critical analysis

Academic credibility

There is an abundance of material accessible for students today. It is important to examine this material critically to ascertain its quality before reading it and using it as support for an assignment.

Types of reading materials

  • Internet
  • Journals
  • Text books
  • Newspapers
  • CD ROMs
  • Encyclopaedias

General test for credibility
If the piece of material satisfies all or most of the criteria below it can be considered academically credible.

  • 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 in 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

Making notes and summarising provides additional advice on how to make notes on your researched material.