#LibraryAtoZ – C is for Critical

For our third post this week we’ll help you with the next stage in your awesome assignment.  You’ve made a perfect plan and rocked your research, now’s the time to be critical.

Decorative - student at laptop

What it is, and what it isn’t! 

Let’s start with what it’s not.  Being critical in academic writing doesn’t mean negative criticism, for example ‘This book is rubbish’ or ‘That’s a terrible idea’.  

Critical thinking and writing should demonstrate that you can be objective, evaluate the evidence and draw reasonable conclusions from the information you have.  

If you’re a Teesside University student you can log into Sage Research Methods to listen to a podcast about critical thinking. Log in to access the podcast and related content.

Why it’s important. 

You need to consider all the arguments and evidence before you draw your conclusions.  Remember that theories and research evolve over time with new experiments and analysis which can expand on or contradict previous findings.  Successful assignments are evidence-based and objective.

It’s also an important life skill, even if you’re new to studying you will already use some critical thinking in your decision making.  Here’s a TEDEd video to show you how.

How to do it.

Everything you use as evidence in your assignment should be relevant and add value to your work.  Remember that each piece of research should take you a step closer to your conclusion.

Ask yourself questions when you’re reading and making notes. Always start with ‘Why should I believe this?’ and think about ‘Who? What? How? When?’.  

Graphic- text reads ‘Who wrote or produced the source? Who is the target audience?’ Graphic - text reads ‘What type of source is it? What approach has been taken?’

Graphic - text reads ‘How was it written?’ Graphic - text reads ‘When was it published or last updated?’

You can use our  critical evaluation checklist and check out our LibGuide on Being Critical for more information, online tutorials and support. 

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