Landing : Athabascau University

Reading and Writing Critically

  • Public
By Kyla James June 8, 2023 - 1:25pm Comments (1)

I have learned that I write better than what I originally thought and to extend myself some grace in terms of identifying as a writer.  I am a perfectionist by nature and can get bogged down in details or delay beginning work as a result. I have learned that when reading, I am able to think well critically and ask why we are reading this article and how it could be helpful.  I think as a nurse, we’re constantly thinking in this manner that it comes quite naturally in reading and writing. I also think editing is a strength of mine, as I usually pay particular attention to formatting correctly before submitting work. I also speak and write in a "hedged" and "boosted" manner in my everyday life, even though I was unfamiliar with these terms. Swales and Feak brought these terms to my attention in their book "Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential tasks and skills" as they are common in book reviews (240).

I have noticed that my weaknesses are in identifying the authors assumptions and need to practice this as part of my active reading.  I also learned that I do not skim articles very well. I am often highlighting and underlining as I read to assist in staying engaged, however I am guilty of having a page full of several highlights! Allyson Skene’s “Writing a Critical Review” article suggests skimming the entire text first to determine the thesis, structure, and methodology and then to read more detailed upon further examination.  I will try to implement this tactic going forward. I will also try to seek out examples of the author’s assumptions while reading as well. 

Skene, Allyson. “Writing a Critical Review .” The Writing Centre, Accessed 6 June 2023.

Swales, John M., and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills. 3rd ed., The University of Michigan Press, 2022. 


  • Emily Cargan July 19, 2023 - 12:45am

    Hello Kyla, 

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I recall responding to it when it you first published, but my response does not seem to have been uploaded. So here I go again!

    As I write, I'm sipping tea from a mug with the following printed on it: "Irish Society of Procrastinators - I'll do it now... in a minute." My brother bought it for my dad who is a notorious procrastinator. I suffer from the same problem myself! 

    I think with writing, the best advice is to write lots initially, having locked your critical editor securely away for a while (easier said than done!). Often, the writing itself will lead you to new ideas and conclusions, so to deny yourself the process of imperfect writing may also deny you the opportunity to see work in a new light and generate fresh ideas and interesting associations. 

    It's interesting to see that you identify not skimming articles as a weakness, whereas for me skimming articles or any type of writing is a weakness as I tend to miss important information. I need to slow down and read more carefully!

    I love your idea of reading with a view to identifying author assumptions. This is key to good critical analysis. 

    Best for now,