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Critical Thinking

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Being able to think critically is a skill developed during undergraduate study, and is expected of all post-graduate students. Critical thinking is applied to study material and to your own writing.

To read and write critically, consider:

whether the message you are reading is valid
whether the evidence supports the conclusions
whether the message is supported or contradicted by other writers.

 

Critical analysis

Writing a critical analysis requires you to evaluate, analyse and interpret research literature using facts to support your argument or position.

To critically analyse a text you can use the following as a guide:

  • What is the background?
    • Who is the author?
    • What type of text is it?
    • Who is the intended reader?
    • When was it written?

  • What is the purpose?
    • What is the author trying to convince you of?
    • How is the text structured (headings,tables, etc.)?

  • What evidence is offered to support the argument?
    • Is the evidence accurate and relevant?

  • Is the argument logical?
    • Are key terms and concepts defined?
    • Do the points flow logically from one to the next?
    • Does the conclusion accurately flow from the evidence?

 

Applying critical analysis to research studies.

  • General overview
    • Is the article describing a research project?
    • Is the research method clearly described?
    • Is the resear
    • What were the aims of the research project?
    • Is it qualitative or quantitative research?
    • Does the title clearly reflect the focus of the text?

  • Research design
    • How is the published literature used to support the study?
    • What is the theoretical framework and is it appropriate for the research topic?
    • What is the general method?
    • How was the data collected?
    • Are the method and data collection strategies appropriate for the research topic?

  • Participants
    • What selection method was used?
    • How was confidentiality and/or anonymity assured?
    • What ethical issues were identified and how were they addressed?

  • Research question and data analysis
    • How does the research question relate to the literature in the literature review?
    • Can the data analysis strategies be easily identified and followed?

  • The findings
    • Is it clear how the findings have been generated from the data?
    • Is it clear how the findings relate to theoretical perspectives?
    • Are the links between the findings in this research and other research clearly made?

  • The role of the researcher
    • Are the researchers’ biases, assumptions and expectations made clear?
    • Are the limitations of the study made clear? Can you think of other limitations which should have been acknowledged?
    • What recommendations for further study are made?

  • How does this study’s findings relate to other texts in your reference list?
    • Which other studies confirm these findings?
    • Which other studies contradict these findings?