Reading styles

March 2nd, 2011
by jodi

To support reading, think about diversity of reading styles.

A study of “How examiners assess research theses” mentions the diversity:

[F]our examples give a good indication of the range of ‘reading styles’:

  • A (Hum/Male/17) sets aside time to read the thesis. He checks who is in the references to see that the writers are there who should be there. Then he reads slowly, from the beginning like a book, but taking copious notes.
  • B (Sc/Male/22) reads the thesis from cover to cover first without doing anything else. For the first read he is just trying to gain a general impression of what the thesis is about and whether it is a good thesis—that is, are the results worthwhile. He can also tell how much work has actually been done. After the first read he then ‘sits on it’ for a while. During the second reading he starts making notes and reading more critically. If it is an area with which he is not very familiar, he might read some of the references. He marks typographical errors, mistakes in calculations, etc., and makes a list of them. He also checks several of the references just to be sure they have been used appropriately.
  • C (SocSc/Female/27) reads the abstract first and then the introduction and the conclusion, as well as the table of contents to see how the thesis is structured; and she familiarises herself with appendices so that she knows where everything is. Then she starts reading through; generally the literature review, and methodology, in the first weekend, and the findings, analysis and conclusions in the second weekend. The intervening week allows time for ideas to mull over in her mind. On the third weekend she writes the report.
  • D (SocSc/Male/15) reads the thesis from cover to cover without marking it. He then schedules time to mark it, in about three sittings, again working from beginning to end. At this stage he ‘takes it apart’. Then he reads the whole thesis again.

from (10.1080/0307507022000011507) Mullins, G. & Kiley, M. (2002), It’s a PhD, not a Nobel Prize: how experienced examiners asses research theses, Studies in Higher Education, 27, 4, pp.369-386. DOI:10.1080/0307507022000011507

Parenthetical comments are (discipline/gender/interview number). Thanks to the NUIG Postgrad Research Society for suggesting this paper.


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