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Reading, thinking, and writing at a graduate level

Learn how to read, think and write at a graduate level to ensure your success in a graduate program.

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Reading at a graduate level

Adler and Van Doren (1972, as cited in Jacobs, 2005, Reading Texts and Journal Articles section) have proposed eight rules for effective reading at the graduate level.

  • Read the text or article as if it is a prescription for actual professional practice. 
  • Decide whether the text or article is theoretical or practical in its intent. 
  • Classify the text or article according to the major strands of intellectual history. 
  • Decide whether the text or article is about general issues or about more specific problems. 
  • Identify the author's perspective.
  • Specify what the text or article advocates you to do. 
  • Identify the purpose for which this is to be done. 
  • Make an informed judgment about the validity of these matters for actual practice.

Dr. Jacobs makes several other helpful suggestions in his article Some Notes About Required Reading. Although you wouldn’t want to use this as an example of good writing, he makes an important distinction between undergraduate and graduate education and the ways in which reading differs between these levels.  This could help you avoid unproductive behaviours that many undergraduates exhibit.  He also provides some additional suggestions for interacting with the reading material that may help you make the most efficient use of your reading time.