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Principles and Methods of Psychology (PSYCH 101): Principles of Critical Book Analysis

Principles and Methods of Psychology (PSYCH 101)

How to Work Through Your Reading Assignment

Reading and writing are two activities that are interdependent. In order to write a successful review of an article or book you need to read the text critically. There are many practical methods and approaches to get the most out of your reading and writing assignments. Here is one suggestion.

The SQ3R approach stands for the following activities:

Survey:  Check carefully the book you need to read --- its title, subtitle, author(s), table of contents, any illustrations or pictures in the book, any supplemental material, graphs, statistical tables, bibliography, questions, if there are any at end of chapters. This is more like skimming the text. Pay attention to the book cover. Does it intrigue you, does it indicate what the book is about? Find out who is the author of the book cover art.

Question:  Have a pencil in hand and a sheet of paper or note cards. Once you get an idea what the book is about and why you selected it, formulate some questions on the topic of the book before you read. It will help you focus your reading. Go through chapter titles and change them into questions.

Read: Read carefully each chapter. Write questions, important concepts/terms you come across in the text. Avoid highlighting the text--- in the end you'll face a lot of highlighted segments that you will need to re-read again.

Recite: What this has to do with reading? Once you finished a chapter, talk to yourself by reading your questions or notes out loud. Try explaining an idea or concept to yourself in your own words.  This is deep reading and thinking. You should have your opinions clear at this point. Do you find points of disagreement with the author? If some parts of the texts are not clear, mark them for more research.

Review:  This is a final activity in the reading assignment. Review your notes often.

How to Write a Critical Book Assessment

Academic book reviews generally include the following structure: a detailed book citation, introduction, summary, evaluation, and conclusion. Some book reviews are more like review essays, which are longer than typical book reviews, situate the reviewed book in a larger context of the published research and are more analytical in the critical discussion. In addition to the instructions under Course Assignment in this guide, the following short handouts provide excellent points on how to write a successful book review and avoid common pitfalls:

Writing the Academic Book Review

Book Reviews

Guidelines for Writing a Review Essay


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