1. Read the intro paragraph. Stop and make a note of the following:
– what is the thesis? What do they plan to prove?
– what are the articles being used in this paper?
– as a “new reader.” do you understand the basic concept of the article(s) under discussion?
– is it clear how this thesis CHALLENGES or EXPANDS on these articles, rather than simply summarizing?
2. Read the body paragraphs and conclusion. Try to annotate as you read, considering the following:
– What is the function of each paragraph? Is it summarizing? Building the argument? Offering a counterargument?
– Is appropriate evidence being used? The strongest claims use the text as evidence. These types of evidence should be avoided:
Personal stories – in which the writer supports a point using their own experience.
General or “common sense” evidence – in which the writer describes an aspect of the world that they feel is ‘obvious’ in order to support their point.
Hypothetical situations – in which the writer describes a nonspecific ‘everyday’ occurrence, creating a fictional scenario in order to support a point.
– Are you able to understand the writer’s analysis? Note when explanations become long, confusing, vague, or when it seems that the texts have been misread. Specific citations, quotes, and paraphrase might be needed.
AFTER YOU READ, write a short response that considers some of the following:
1) Your understanding of the thesis. Was the thesis consistent throughout? Did it seem to show up late, or did it change within the paper?
2) The structure of the argument. The argument should be stated on page 1, and should begin to unfold within the first few body paragraphs, using the majority of the paper to build the argument, and explaining the texts further as needed. How much of the paper is pure summary? Pure argument? Can summary and argument be better integrated?
3) An analysis of the evidence. If the write is using weak evidence, consider the points the evidence is attempting to support. Are there other texts (or other parts of the existing texts) that could make stronger points?
4) Potential counterarguments. Do any of the articles offer an obvious disagreement with this thesis that is not currently being addressed?
5) Clarity of the sentences. Were sentences too long or too short? Were some parts of the paper more difficult to read than others? (No need to be a grammar teacher here — just note your general reaction as a reader.)
6) Were you convinced? Here’s where you can offer a general reaction to the paper, as well as cite any major strengths or missteps that might not have been covered otherwise.