People who work in higher education are dependent on ‘external validation’ as a measure of status and success. This means that you are only as good as others think you are. This measure starts at the undergraduate level but most students don’t need to worry about it until you consider grad-school.
Because I am in a sort of perverse ‘gap-year’ between the Masters and PhD, reading relevant academic work requires deliberate effort. Coursework and set writing deadlines force this reading on the active student but without that structure it is just too easy to slack off.