Reading questions for the social sciences

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Feel free to copy and paste to help organize your own reading notes.

1) What’s the scholarly background of the author, and how does this shape his/her point of view? What type of research methods inform his/her work?

2) What’s the explicit (or implicit) research question of the study? What puzzle is the author seeking to answer (if any)?

3) What’s the author’s thesis (major argument) or hypothesis (testable argument) for the work as a whole (if any)? Is the argument consistent from beginning to end, including any chapters or sections?

4) What evidence do you find most—and least—persuasive in support of the author’s argument?

5) How does the context surrounding this study shape its findings? Would the findings differ if the study had been conducted in a different location, or with other subjects, or by a different researcher?

6) What unanswered questions came to mind while reading this text?

7) How does this text respond — or not — to other texts we have read?

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