Some Keys to Good Reading

Three important questions to ask of secondary sources:

Broad approaches to essay reading:

That is, what is the structure of the argument? What are the major points, and what minor points are subordinated under each major point?

What is the author's argument?

There are two general steps to reading scholarship:
Stage 1: Observation. What is the author's argument and how is it structured? This is the first read through the piece. Your objective is merely to understand what the author is trying to do.
Stage 2: Evaluation. Where is the argument particularly strong or weak? What about it is weak? This is the second read and subsequence analysis of the piece. Your objective is to evaluate the author's success in making her or his case.