Good academic reading and communication skills are crucial for university students. You have to understand and be able to cope with loads of information. And like that wouldn’t be enough you have to be able to think critical to form and question your opinions and arguments, be able to find information from different sources, compare them and be able to write in a scientific manner.
So I started by asking my father and my brother: “What do you think form academic reading and communication skills?” My father said he thinks proper understanding of academic text requires some kind of academic education or some prior knowledge to the topic. He said reading of, for example, a scientific article isn’t easy for a layman, because the terms of the scientific field in question. Well, it might be the case in the most difficult texts, but reading an average psychology article might not be that difficult, especially if the topic considers things people meet in normal life or in social communication.
My brother intervened the conversation and said: “But that’s why there’s the glossary in scientific articles” though he still stated that some kind of academic knowledge or some knowledge of the topic is needed to fully understand what the text is about. My father pointed the Tiede-magazine (Finnish science magazine) and asked don’t I think the magazine is made for a common person to understand science. I said yes, I think that’s the point of magazines like that, make science easy to understand to everybody. Scientific text has its rules and structure how to write it, and that’s important for the clarity and academic community’s understanding, but magazines like Tiede can be written more freely, because their purpose is different.
When talking about effective reading skills, according to Michael J. Wallace (2004) the title of the text is the first clue to the subject and can be taken almost as a brief summary of the topic. Michael J. Wallace (2004) states that reading in a focused way makes the understanding better. To focus the reading process he suggests asking oneself questions like: “In what way is the text relevant to me or what I’m trying to do?” or “What sort of questions do I expect this text to answer?” (Wallace, 2004). I think there’s a point in asking oneself questions: they guide your attention and attitude towards the text and help you focus your attention. Mostly reading texts you don’t think things like that, you just read them like you’ve always read.
Different strategies are to be used in different kind of texts. When you should get a broad overview of something but you don’t have to focus on details, you can use skimming. According to Andy Gillet (2007) skimming is about reading summaries, looking at chapter and section headings or the first and last paragraphs etc. A useful thing to do also in texts you will read carefully after skimming them. Kind of an opposite to skimming is scanning, looking for a specific information in the text. And when you really have to learn a text by detail, you can use detailed reading. By adapting your reading strategy to the text and your goals you should really get the best of it.
According to Dustin Wax (2009), a good thing to do is to keep an academic reading journal. This means by writing down names of articles you’ve read, quotations from them, bibliography, a short synopsis and some comments that came in to your mind while reading it (Wax, 2009). I think it would certainly be a good idea to make that journal. There are pretty many articles or books I’ve read and from which I’d like to recall things afterwards, but I really don’t remember where did I take that piece of information that’s on my mind, or where could I check it again.
Andy Gillet (2007). Using English for Academic Purposes: A guide to students in higher education. Retrieved from: http://www.uefap.com/reading/readfram.htm (cited 12.9.2010)
Michael J. Wallace (2004). Study skills in English: A course in reading skills for academic purposes. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805215/33850/sample/9780521533850ws.pdf (cited 12.9.2010)
Dustin M. Wax (2009). Back to School: Keep an Academic Reading Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/back-to-school-keep-an-academic-reading-journal.html (cited 12.9.2010)
Changes I made: I put the year in the cites in text and organized the reference list alphabetically. I also changed the place of the year in the reference list. I had some problems providing information specific enough, because I didn’t really find more information than this. And I don’t know how to change this stupid green underlined font which just came out of the blue to my blog entry…