It’s an assertion of skill, a belief that all words are the precisions you wish them to be. Papers are formed from wisdom, the careful examinations. No theories are betrayed by personal opinions; no obscure statistics are used to battle the accepted standards. You wield facts as certainties, not occasional allies. You have learned to understand more than text, but instead the application of it. Every choice is therefore deliberate and well intended – branding you a student of critical reading.
Simply defined: critical reading is the understanding of subtleties within any form of literature (whether it be fictional masterpiece or scholarly treatise). The purpose is not merely to comprehend what has been written, but it is instead to acknowledge the influences hidden within. Individuals are to look for signs of bias, uncertainty or a manipulation of facts – such as choosing unknown sources to verify a claim instead of listing reputable academics.
It is through this process that research can take on an entirely new form: one of truth. When pages are read with more than a desire to find proper grammar or spelling abilities, their context becomes apparent. This leads individuals to have a greater understanding of what the author intends and what may merely be implied. Influences of philosophy, ideology, social status and more can become known – simply by dissecting paragraphs and finding their slants of bias.
Such slants, of course, are meant to be avoided in academic work; and critical reading assures they can quickly be found (and then just as quickly be eliminated). Look for use of language, frequently emphasized points, sensational meanings and a lack of foundational proof. If a statement cannot be validated it must be removed. If phrases have been chosen purely for their descriptive abilities they must be reconsidered.
Critical reading serves as the first (and last) defense against a failed paper. It must be utilized to maintain high standards and higher competency.