Chapter Three: How Do We Read Arguments?

In the daily routine of a scholar, they tend to spend more time reading then actually writing.

Why Read?

  • Reading is a way that we get most of our information to write about
  • Before we can write about the content we are reading, we must be able to thoroughly understand it which can sometimes be difficult
  • Majority of people now a days have become good at skimming through text, making your reading more time sufficient but can pose a problem when it comes to remembering text

Reading Strategies

  • Have a clear and specific purpose in mind every time you read
  • asking yourself the following questions can help you with your focus on the piece of writing: Why am I reading this, and what do I want to get out of it?
    • Am I reading to get a basic idea of what this is about?
    • Am I reading to learn and fully understand a concept?
    • Am I reading to analyze or criticize something?
  • To get the most out of your reading, developing techniques to focus on concentration and repetition
  • Repetition enhances memory


  1. Before you read something, scan the table of contents, headings, tables, images and key words so that you can formulate tentative answers to these questions:

a. What are the main ideas?
b. What is the writer trying to accomplish?
c. How does this reading connect to the course I'm taking?

  1. Then, skim quickly through the whole text refining your sense of the main ideas.


  1. If you encounter a confusing paragraph
  2. Take notes while reading
  3. Write down your reactions to the argument


  • Stop reading and recall what you just read
  • Repetition needs to happen in fairly quick succession after you first learn new material
  • Improve concentration by limiting distractions

Reading Rhetorically: Reading to discover How It Says
As you read more scholarly writing, you will being to see texts not merely as questionable, lifeless, purely objective collections o facts and ideas but as part of conversations that writers and their audiences use to recreate knowledge - and you will begin to participate in that discussion yourself.

  • To read and analyze a text rhetorically, we break down the argument to see how it works, without judging or agreeing or disagreeing. The guiding questions of analysis as follows:
    • How is the argument designed?
    • What choices did the author make in designing the argument
    • Why did she make these choices?

The Catalyst, Purpose, and Implications

  • Authors write because they are responding to some catalyst: a problem, question, or gap in understanding


  • Argument genres are similar to literary genres such as a play, poem, or a novel
  • when you recognize an argument's genre, you can find out the purpose and evaluate it according to established rules and expectations


  • In most cases, once you know the argument's genre and content you have read enough, but sometimes there can be room for miscommunication
  • Argument is influenced by where and when it was written
    • You may not be able to understand the meaning of the text if you do not know something about the time period, culture, community values, current events, etc

Identifying the Controversy

  • To help you decipher what an argument is really about, concentrate on finding, detangling, and categorizing the main controversies o points of disagreement

**A Guided Reading of a Scholarly Statement
Identify the Catalyst

  • What initially motivated the investigation
  • Were there gaps in research or unanswered questions
  • Why do the problems matter to the authors

If you still can't figure out the catalyst, look for an important clue in the introduction by asking yourself:

  • What is the research question?

Identifying the Central Claim
To locate a thesis/hypothesis

  • Where is a potentially controversial, overarching idea that needed support
  • What is the title of the article? Does that give us a clue about the article's thesis?

Identify the Linkages

  • Making connections between the thesis and research results
  • How do they help readers interpret their stats

Identify the Implications

  • What are the consequences or effects of the argument
  • what is the larger significance of the argument? why does it matter?

How Doe We Read Multimedia Arguments

  • Who is the author? Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the controversy or debatable claim?
  • What support does the argument contain?
  • What is the purpose of the argument?
  • How does context affect its meaning?
  • What is missing from the argument? What has the author left to my imagination?
  • What connotations, symbolic meanings, or cultural assumptions am I supposed to supply?

Responding to Arguments
Reading may be your primary means of leaning in college, writing is what typically provides evidence of that learning

  • To respond effectively to a reading, you should think of your source as catalyst
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