Critically Read Journal Articles

Critical reading is the process of carefully analyzing and evaluating a text to understand its meaning, purpose, and value. It involves actively engaging with the material by questioning, analyzing, and interpreting it, rather than passively accepting it at face value.

Critical reading requires a range of skills, including comprehension, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis. These skills involve reading between the lines, identifying biases and assumptions, recognizing rhetorical strategies and persuasive techniques, and assessing the evidence and arguments presented in the text.

Wallace (2003)1 explained that when comparing conventional and critical reading, some critics of the Critical Reading project propose an extreme contrast by asserting that critical reading is not genuine reading - not reading at all, and that analyzing texts deviates from the typical understanding of reading. Furthermore, it is explained that by opposing much of what constitutes reading, such as reading for knowledge, reading to survive, and even reading for enjoyment, critical reading is considered to be an unnatural act.

Wallace (2003: 42) discusses the concept of critical reading and how it differs from other cognitive psychological models. Firstly, critical reading emphasizes communal interpretation of texts, with less focus on individual responses to texts and more on readers’ problematizing of the text. Secondly, non-native speaker readers are not necessarily at a disadvantage when reading authentic texts written for an indigenous readership, as they may be more aware of how texts position readers. Thirdly, critical reading is concerned with the effect of a text, rather than the author's communicative intent, and involves critiquing the ideological assumptions underlying texts. Additionally, critical readers engage in metacritique, meaning they challenge their own interpretation of the text and consider how their own identities and ideological leanings may influence their reading.

Given the operational definition of critical reading and additional information about it, it seems that critical reading is closely related with what Wells (1991: 63)2 refers to as "epistemic literacy", which is activity that involves the capacity to construct a convincing argument based on a thorough understanding of a text, going beyond its literal meaning.

Active Reading

Active reading is not just about reading a book or an article; it is about actively engaging with the material and critically analyzing it. Active reading requires students to ask questions, make connections, and take notes. By doing so, students can improve their understanding of the subject matter and retain the information more effectively.

Active readers know why they are reading and they have strategies for meeting their needs; they don’t mindlessly plough through words hoping that something magical will happen.3

Active reading also plays a crucial role in developing critical thinking skills. When students read actively, they are required to evaluate the information presented and form opinions based on evidence. This skill is particularly important in today's world, where information is readily available, and students need to be able to distinguish between accurate and unreliable sources. Active reading can help students to think more critically, challenge assumptions, and develop a more nuanced understanding of complex issues. Overall, developing active reading skills is an essential component of academic success and can benefit students throughout their university careers and beyond.

The following is strategy that you can employ to conduct active reading4.

#1 Previewing

Previewing is a strategy for reading that allows you to use prior knowledge — such as the expectations of your teacher or your understanding of how certain kinds of texts generally work — to help guide your reading. Skilled readers rarely read a text “cold”; instead, they think about it in terms of what they already know. They first examine the text, skimming to identify and evaluate the following:

  • the author
  • the place of publication
  • the genre, or type of writing
  • the table of contents
  • headnotes or an abstract (if available)
  • the title and subtitle
  • section headings
  • other information that stands out at a glance (such as images, graphs, and tables).

#2 Thesis

At times, the primary argument or major claim of an essay can be identified by examining the initial paragraph. Alternatively, in cases where the paragraphs are brief, the thesis may be found within the first few paragraphs. Once you have quickly reviewed the essay, you can adjust your reading pace accordingly as you search for the thesis and understand how the argument is structured. It is important to pay attention to the headings and subheadings if the essay has different sections, as they can provide insight into how the thesis is backed up by additional smaller arguments.

#3 Context

As you interact with a written work, you should also take into account the impact of its context - the environmental circumstances in which it was produced. Context, which means "with the text," can include factors such as the time period, geographical location, cultural norms, political climate, or any other elements that aid in understanding how a piece of writing relates to the circumstances that influenced it.

#4 The "First and Last" rule

The "first and last" rule suggests that the author's main ideas can typically be found in both the beginning and end of the text. The opening paragraphs are often a good place to locate the author's central thesis, while the final paragraphs may contain conclusive statements such as "finally,..." or "Given this evidence, it is clear that...". The concluding paragraphs are especially significant because they frequently provide a summary of the argument and restate the thesis.

Wallace & Wray

Wallace & Wray (2021)5

#1 Centering around a core question and follow-up questions for examination

  1. Why am I reading this?
  2. What are the authors trying to achieve in writing this?
  3. What are the authors claiming that is relevant to my work?
  4. How convincing are these claims, and why?
  5. In conclusion, what use can I make of this?

#2 Assessing the value and relevance of the material

My Thought

As generated from various sources, critical reading can be done by applying the following points.

  1. Previewing the text: Before reading, take a quick look at the article to get an idea of what it's about. Look at headings, subheadings, and other formatting features to get a sense of the main topics and ideas.
  2. Active reading: While reading, actively engage with the article by highlighting or underlining key information, taking notes, and asking questions. This helps to stay focused and retain information.
  3. Identifying the authors' purpose and audience: Consider why the author(s) wrote the articles and who the intended audience is. This can provide important context for understanding the authors perspective and biases.
  4. Analyzing the structure: Look at the organization of the article and how the ideas are presented. Identify the main argument and supporting evidence.
  5. Evaluating the evidence: Evaluate the quality and relevance of the evidence presented in the article. Ask questions about the sources of information and whether they are reliable and unbiased.
  6. Comparing and contrasting with other sources: Compare and contrast the information presented in the article with other sources to gain a broader perspective and identify potential biases.
  7. Making inferences: Use the information presented in the article to make inferences about the author's underlying assumptions and beliefs.
  8. Questioning assumptions and biases: Challenge your own assumptions and biases and consider alternative perspectives.

Important point is sometimes literally provided. One of literal signals that can be considered as clue is called transition words or transitional phrases. In academic journal articles, transition words are commonly used to help readers follow the authors' train of thought and to make connections between different parts of the article. They serve as a bridge between sentences and paragraphs, helping to create coherence and flow. Transition words and phrases can help to guide the reader through the text and show how different ideas are connected or contrasted with one another.

(1) Addition (2) Comparison (3) Contrast (4) Cause & Effect (5) Time (6) Emphasis (7) Example & Clarification (8) Conclusion (9) Sequence (10) Restatement
A Additionally Similarly However Consequently
As a consequence
Meanwhile Indeed For example
For instance
In conclusion First In other words
B Also Likewise On the other hand Thus Afterward In fact Specifically To sum up Second Namely
C Furthermore In the same way Nevertheless Therefore Later Of course In particular To conclude Third That is
D Moreover Correspondingly Nonetheless Hence Previously Certainly To illustrate As a result Fourth To put it another way
E In addition Just as Meanwhile As a result In the end Specifically That is to say Finally Lastly In essence
F Likewise So too Yet Accordingly Before To be sure Namely Lastly Finally In short
G Too As well as But So Then Above all In other words All in all Next That is to say
H Not only... but also Like In contrast Because Subsequently Truly Such as Overall Then
I Besides Compared to Although Since Next Without a doubt In the meantime
J In comparison Even though Due to Finally Without question Meanwhile
K In the same manner Whereas Owing to In the meantime Subsequently
L Despite For this reason In the past
In the future
M Unlike

Here are some examples of transition words or transitional phrases as quoted from journal articles.

No. Example Description
1A Blended learning can also help adapt to offline learning by considering the diversity and characteristics of learners in language learning (Alberth, 2011; Boelens et al., 2018).

Additionally, the blended learning objective is to improve learning results. It is also helpful in improving communication in three modes of learning, traditional classroom-based learning environment, blended, and entirely online.6
Transitional word "additionally" is used to introduce an additional point that supports or reinforces the previous statement. In this case, the sentence begins by discussing how blended learning can help adapt to offline learning by considering the diversity and characteristics of learners in language learning. The word "additionally" is then used to indicate that there is another benefit to blended learning: it can improve learning results and communication in different modes of learning.
2A Data only enters the system by permission of the student: thus, an item for the learning log sent automatically if the student completed an online course would be presented to the student as PDP (personal development profile) owner for acceptance on its arrival (and could therefore be rejected). Similarly, outsiders would only be able to view data within the PDP system with permission from the owner.7
3B In its application, e-learning requires many methods to achieve expected results (Mantra et al., 2021). On the other hand, variations in online learning methods also create the students' enthusiasm to join online learning treatment.6
3E The ease of information and knowledge retrieval to support learning process comes with problems to be taken care of such as information overload, negative content, netiquette negligence, and gadget addiction. Meanwhile, Indonesia will face an upcoming challenge in the economic sector, Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in 2020.8 The transition word "meanwhile" in the sentence aims at introducing a contrasting idea or event that is happening concurrently with the first idea. In this case, the first idea discusses the ease of information and knowledge retrieval for learning purposes but highlights the potential problems that come with it. The word "meanwhile" is used to indicate that while this issue is being discussed, there is another significant event happening concurrently, which is the upcoming economic challenge Indonesia will face with the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in 2020.
4A The results indicated that the student-teachers awareness of DI implementation ranges from "high" with the lowest score of 2.06 (2.06>2.01-3.00) to "very high" with the highest score of 3.71 (3.71>3.01-4.00). Consequently, the level of importance concurred with or supported the awareness result that the participants regarded DI (differentiated instruction) to be important, ranging from "somewhat important" (49.40%) to "very important" (88.39%).9
4A This finding echoes the view of van Dijk (1991, p. 40), who claimed that powerful elite groups (in general), and especially within political domains, are able, at least in part, to control access to the media and can thus control the ways in which these elite groups are portrayed within the news. As a consequence, the voices and opinions of elite groups are frequently presented as more credible and legitimate.10
4C Problem and challenge are things to solve with wisdom resulting from high-level knowledge understanding. Upcoming challenge to overcome for Indonesia citizen is FTAAP 2020, therefore digital literacy education goal is to prepare Indonesian workforces to compete in the challenge.8
6A Communication literacy underlines the importance of communication as a human activity, indeed, as a basis of social interaction, and is seen as a basic personal attribute, whether mediated orally or digitally.7
6E/7B Based on the knowledge of the pragma-dialectic approach related to argumentative writing, this research aimed to fill in the gap of the use of pragma-dialectics in argumentative writing pair work (protagonist and antagonist). More specifically, the study aimed to investigate how students construct argumentative writing and the actual distribution of students’ speech acts in their argumentative writing using a pragma-dialectical approach.11
7H There were some purposes for using directives (Saifudin, 2019), such as to refute points of view that were raised, to defend points of view, to ask the opposing party for points of support for his position, or to demand a definition or an explanation of an opponent's statement.11
8A In conclusion, glocal culture content includes resources from learners’ source culture, the target language culture as well as other cultures, which should be presented in a dynamic manner to give learners the ‘opportunity for exploration and evaluation of social, political and economic understandings, both local and global’.12
8H Overall, it was proved that the online peer feedback practice helped the students to realize their strengths and weaknesses in their writing mainly based on the global and local issues in writing (content, organization, vocabulary, language use, and neatness).13
5A/9J It was also revealed that the students had positive perceptions toward the online peer feedback practice. Meanwhile, the interview results revealed several contradictory results regarding the students’ challenges.13 "Meanwhile" functions as a transition word that connects and contrasts the two different outcomes occurring simultaneously. It helps to indicate that two things are happening at the same time, but they have different results or consequences.
3F/7A/10A Understanding their own culture while building their English language skills is important given the diversity of cultures in Malaysia, which include cultures of the main ethnic groups (i.e. Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures) as well as other minority cultures. The depth and quality of the cultural items presented in the book shows that English Form 1 is designed to help learners to become intercultural citizens. For example, in introducing ‘Friendship Day’ in Unit 9 and the history behind it in Malaysia, the activity is on the source culture. Yet it makes reference to the promotion of peace among other different cultures, and when talking about a friend from a different culture, the content engages learners by encouraging them to reflect on the benefits of having such a friend and on differences among different cultures.

In other words, the source culture in English Form 1 represents the country’s multicultural scenery. The diversity in the source culture could be the reason for the limited range of other cultures in English Form 1 (Russia, China, France, Italy, Poland, Japan, Germany, Norway, Greece, South Africa) compared to Pulse 2, which includes more other cultures (e.g. France, Japan, Turkey, China, India, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Ecuador, etc.).12

Claims, Evidence, Reasoning

Journal articles are commonly formed by claim, evidence, and reasoning. A claim is a statement or proposition that the author is putting forward as true or valid. Evidence refers to any information that supports the claim, such as data, research findings, or examples. Reasoning refers to the logical connection between the claim and the evidence, providing an explanation for why the evidence supports the claim.

Claims, evidence, and reasoning are related in that evidence is used to support a claim, and reasoning is used to explain how the evidence supports the claim. The strength of an argument depends on the quality and relevance of the evidence presented and the soundness of the reasoning used to connect the evidence to the claim.

  • We propose that X (claim) based on Y (evidence), and this is supported by Z (reasoning).
  • Our analysis suggests that X (claim) is true because of Y (evidence) and Z (reasoning).
  • Our research demonstrates that X (claim) is supported by Y (evidence) and is logically sound based on Z (reasoning).
  • The evidence we present supports our claim that X is true because of Y, and this is further reinforced by Z.
  • We posit that X (claim) is true based on the following evidence (Y), and this is logically sound because of Z (reasoning).
  • Our study shows that X (claim) can be supported by Y (evidence), and we arrive at this conclusion based on Z (reasoning).
  • We argue that X (claim) is true based on the weight of evidence (Y), and this is further supported by Z (reasoning).

To best understand this, let us consider the following example10.

  • Claim: Analysing mediated suffering can help determine the ways in which news texts build public ethics, and can help reveal the ways and extent to which one can act on the mediated events of suffering.
  • Evidence: "Media representations of human suffering do not merely consist of a body of texts. They also constitute cultural practices in which audience responses to mediated suffering can shape future versions of narratives (Chouliaraki, 2006). In addition, this analysis can also help reveal the ways, and extent to which, one can – or should – act on the mediated events of suffering; for example, in terms of one’s local or global social structures and power relations (Joye, 2012)."
  • Reasoning: The evidence provided shows that media representations of human suffering are not just textual content but also cultural practices, and that audience responses to mediated suffering can shape future versions of narratives. This can help determine how news texts build public ethics, and it can also reveal the ways and extent to which one can act on mediated events of suffering.

Based on the text, the author argues that analysing mediated suffering can provide insights into how one can act on mediated events of suffering and build public ethics, and that this analysis can be used to address moral and political issues related to distant suffering that cannot be directly affected by spectators. The author also distinguishes between distant suffering and local suffering, with local suffering being a reality for those directly involved or affected by the event.

Therefore, the claim is that analysing mediated suffering can help determine the ways in which news texts build public ethics, and can help reveal the ways and extent to which one can act on the mediated events of suffering. The evidence provided includes the idea that media representations of human suffering are cultural practices, and that audience responses to mediated suffering can shape future versions of narratives. The reasoning links the evidence to the claim by explaining how analysing mediated suffering can help address moral and political issues related to distant suffering and can provide insights into how to act on mediated events of suffering. Additionally, the text provides a distinction between distant and local suffering.

  1. Wallace, C. (2003). Critical reading in language education. Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. ↩︎

  2. Wells, G. (1991). 'Apprenticeship in literacy', in C. Walsh (ed.) Literacy as Praxis: Culture, Language and Pedagogy. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex. ↩︎

  3. Roberts, J. Q., & Hamilton, C. (2020). Reading at university: How to improve your focus and be more critical (1st ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. ↩︎

  4. Barnet, S., Bedau, H., & O’Hara, J. (2019). Critical thinking, reading, and writing: A brief guide to argument (10th ed.). Bedford Books. ↩︎

  5. Wallace, M., & Wray, A. (2021). Critical reading and writing for postgraduates (Fourth edition). Sage. ↩︎

  6. Suriaman. A., Tadeko, N., Manurung, K., Usman, S., Yuliyani, A. (2022). English Blended Learning: an Analysis of Indonesian Students’ Perception. IJEE (Indonesian Journal of English Education), 9(1), 1-18. doi:10.15408/ijee.v9i1.26787 ↩︎ ↩︎

  7. Martin, A., & Grudziecki, J. (2006). DigEuLit: Concepts and Tools for Digital Literacy Development. Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, 5(4), 249–267. doi:10.11120/ital.2006.05040249 ↩︎ ↩︎

  8. Rahmah, A. (2015). Digital Literacy Learning System for Indonesian Citizen. Procedia Computer Science, 72, 94–101. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2015.12.109 ↩︎ ↩︎

  9. Rahmani, Eka F., Riyanti, D. (2022). English Student-Teacher Awareness of Differentiated Instruction (DI) Implementation in Classroom. IJEE (Indonesian Journal of English Education), 9(2), 192-210. doi:10.15408/ijee.v9i2.28505 ↩︎

  10. Ong, T.T., Robert M. McKenzie & Amand, M. (2021): The narrative of human suffering: using automated semantic tagging to analyse news articles and public attitudes towards the MH370 air tragedy, Asian Englishes, DOI: 10.1080/13488678.2021.1927564 ↩︎ ↩︎

  11. Nasihah, D., Elfiyanto, S. (2022). Argumentative Writing Construction of EFL Writing Class Through Declarative Speech Acts Approach. IJEE (Indonesian Journal of English Education), 9(2), 192-210. doi:10.15408/ijee.v9i2.28522 ↩︎ ↩︎

  12. Rahim, A. H., & Daghigh, J. A. (2019). Locally developed versus global textbooks: an evaluation of cultural content in textbooks used in English language teaching in Malaysia. Asian Englishes, 1–15. doi:10.1080/13488678.2019.1669301 ↩︎ ↩︎

  13. Putra, I G. K. M., Santosa, M. H., Pratiwi, N. P. A. (2021). Students’ Perceptions on Online Peer Feedback Practice In EFL Writing. IJEE (Indonesian Journal of English Education), 8(2), 213-231. doi:10.15408/ijee.v8i2.21488 ↩︎ ↩︎