You know how to read, but academic writing can pose new challenges as it is not written with you in mind as the reader. To make sure that you are understanding your source and can identify things to say about it, consider three levels of reading:
1. Make sure you understanding what individual words and sentences mean.
Our #1 tip: Look up the meanings of individual words if you cannot understand it via context or if it seems very important. For concepts or 'things' that seem important to the research, it will be helpful to do some background reading to familiarize yourself with 'common knowledge' on the subject.
2. Understanding what the source is saying overall, and how it is using evidence to support claims.
Our #1 tip: Take notes as you go, and try to summarize the piece after you read it.
3. Understanding why the source is written in a certain way, understanding things about the source and how context, author, format, and creation method may influence what the source says and how it approaches the topic.
Our #1 tip: Ask yourself questions about the context, audience, scope, and purpose. Talk to a librarian for support in teasing out these connections.