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How to Write a Critical Analysis
Last Updated: August 23, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,442,617 times.
- You may need to read the text more than once, especially if it is dense or complicated.
- It might be easier to find the thesis in an academic article than in a creative work, movie, or painting. If you’re critiquing a work of fiction or creative nonfiction, in either written form or film form, identify one of the main themes of the story instead. For a painting, identify what the painter may be trying to get across with their work of art.
- In an academic article, identify the topic sentences of each paragraph or section.
- For works of fiction or paintings, look for scenes and imagery that seem to support the thesis.
- If the text was a film or work of art, write a brief 1 to 2 paragraph synopsis of the film or description of the painting.
Analyzing the Text
- For example, if the text made you angry, what was it about the text that made you angry?
- If you found yourself laughing at the text, what about it was laughable?
- For example, if the author is an outspoken proponent of healthcare reform, then this would likely explain any bias in an argumentative essay on universal healthcare.
- The author’s background may also include credentials, such as a doctorate or medical degree. This is part of the ethos of the text since having credentials may help to bolster an author’s credibility.
- For example, if the author’s explanation of greenhouse gasses is long, full of jargon, and confusing, then you might focus on this as part of your critique.
Tip : Keep in mind that you can also have a positive critique of the text if you think it was effective. For example, if the author’s description of greenhouse gasses was written in simple, easy to understand language, you might note this as part of your analysis.
- For example, if the author has used a website that is known for being biased in favor of their argument, then this would weaken their position. However, if the author used sources that were fair and unbiased, then this would strengthen their position.
- Not all texts will incorporate evidence. For example, if you’re doing a critical analysis of a film or work of art, it probably won’t include secondary sources.
Drafting the Analysis
- For example, in the first sentence of your essay, provide the basic information on the text. Then, describe text’s argument in about 1 to 2 sentences.
- For example, you might write, “Darcy Gibbons’ essay on the environmental impact of consumerism provides a thorough and valuable overview of the problem.”
- Or, you might write, “Shannon Duperty’s mixed media painting, “Dove on Heroin,” falls short of its attempt at edgy political commentary.”
- Keep in mind that the summary paragraph is the only place in your essay where you may include summary. The rest of the essay should provide analysis of the essay.
- Organization. How did the author organize their argument? Was this a good strategy or not? Why?
- Style. What style did the author use to get their point across? How did the style hurt or help their argument?
- Effectiveness. In general, was the text effective at getting its point across? Why or why not?
- Fairness or bias. Did the author demonstrate a fair or biased perspective on their topic? How could you tell?
- Appeal to a specific audience. Did the author seem to have a specific audience in mind? If so, who were they and how well did the author meet their needs?
Tip : Check with your teacher for details on how to cite sources. They may want you to use a specific citation style, such as MLA, Chicago, or APA.
- For example, you might conclude by talking about how the author made a good effort in some regards, but ultimately their argument was ineffective, and then explain why in 2 to 3 sentences.
You Might Also Like
- ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
- ↑ https://www.tru.ca/__shared/assets/Critical_Analysis_Template30565.pdf
- ↑ https://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/Handouts/CriticalAnalysisPapers.pdf
- ↑ https://content.nroc.org/DevelopmentalEnglish/unit09/Foundations/creating-a-thesis-and-an-outline-for-a-critical-analysis-essay.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions
About This Article
To write a critical analysis, first introduce the work you’re analyzing, including information about the work’s author and their purpose in writing it. As part of the introduction, briefly state your overall evaluation of the work. Then, summarize the author’s key points before you use the bulk of your paper to provide your full critique of the work. Try to put each point you want to make in a separate paragraph for clarity. Finally, write a concluding paragraph that restates your opinion of the work and offers any suggestions for improvement. To learn how to balance positive and negative comments in your critical analysis, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to write a critical analysis
Unlike the name implies a critical analysis does not necessarily mean that you are only exploring what is wrong with a piece of work. Instead, the purpose of this type of essay is to interact with and understand a text. Here’s what you need to know to create a well-written critical analysis essay.
What is a critical analysis?
A critical analysis examines and evaluates someone else’s work, such as a book, an essay, or an article. It requires two steps: a careful reading of the work and thoughtful analysis of the information presented in the work.
Although this may sound complicated, all you are doing in a critical essay is closely reading an author’s work and providing your opinion on how well the author accomplished their purpose.
Critical analyses are most frequently done in academic settings (such as a class assignment). Writing a critical analysis demonstrates that you are able to read a text and think deeply about it. However, critical thinking skills are vital outside of an educational context as well. You just don’t always have to demonstrate them in essay form.
How to outline and write a critical analysis essay
Writing a critical analysis essay involves two main chunks of work: reading the text you are going to write about and writing an analysis of that text. Both are equally important when writing a critical analysis essay.
Step one: Reading critically
The first step in writing a critical analysis is to carefully study the source you plan to analyze.
If you are writing for a class assignment, your professor may have already given you the topic to analyze in an article, short story, book, or other work. If so, you can focus your note-taking on that topic while reading.
Other times, you may have to develop your own topic to analyze within a piece of work. In this case, you should focus on a few key areas as you read:
- What is the author’s intended purpose for the work?
- What techniques and language does the author use to achieve this purpose?
- How does the author support the thesis?
- Who is the author writing for?
- Is the author effective at achieving the intended purpose?
Once you have carefully examined the source material, then you are ready to begin planning your critical analysis essay.
Step two: Writing the critical analysis essay
Taking time to organize your ideas before you begin writing can shorten the amount of time that you spend working on your critical analysis essay. As an added bonus, the quality of your essay will likely be higher if you have a plan before writing.
Here’s a rough outline of what should be in your essay. Of course, if your instructor gives you a sample essay or outline, refer to the sample first.
- Background Information
Here is some additional information on what needs to go into each section:
In the first paragraph of your essay, include background information on the material that you are critiquing. Include context that helps the reader understand the piece you are analyzing. Be sure to include the title of the piece, the author’s name, and information about when and where it was published.
“Success is counted sweetest” is a poem by Emily Dickinson published in 1864. Dickinson was not widely known as a poet during her lifetime, and this poem is one of the first published while she was alive.
After you have provided background information, state your thesis. The thesis should be your reaction to the work. It also lets your reader know what to expect from the rest of your essay. The points you make in the critical analysis should support the thesis.
Dickinson’s use of metaphor in the poem is unexpected but works well to convey the paradoxical theme that success is most valued by those who never experience success.
The next section should include a summary of the work that you are analyzing. Do not assume that the reader is familiar with the source material. Your summary should show that you understood the text, but it should not include the arguments that you will discuss later in the essay.
Dickinson introduces the theme of success in the first line of the poem. She begins by comparing success to nectar. Then, she uses the extended metaphor of a battle in order to demonstrate that the winner has less understanding of success than the loser.
The next paragraphs will contain your critical analysis. Use as many paragraphs as necessary to support your thesis.
Discuss the areas that you took notes on as you were reading. While a critical analysis should include your opinion, it needs to have evidence from the source material in order to be credible to readers. Be sure to use textual evidence to support your claims, and remember to explain your reasoning.
Dickinson’s comparison of success to nectar seems strange at first. However the first line “success is counted sweetest” brings to mind that this nectar could be bees searching for nectar to make honey. In this first stanza, Dickinson seems to imply that success requires work because bees are usually considered to be hard-working and industrious.
In the next two stanzas, Dickinson expands on the meaning of success. This time she uses the image of a victorious army and a dying man on the vanquished side. Now the idea of success is more than something you value because you have worked hard for it. Dickinson states that the dying man values success even more than the victors because he has given everything and still has not achieved success.
This last section is where you remind the readers of your thesis and make closing remarks to wrap up your essay. Avoid summarizing the main points of your critical analysis unless your essay is so long that readers might have forgotten parts of it.
In “Success is counted sweetest” Dickinson cleverly upends the reader’s usual thoughts about success through her unexpected use of metaphors. The poem may be short, but Dickinson conveys a serious theme in just a few carefully chosen words.
What type of language should be used in a critical analysis essay?
Because critical analysis papers are written in an academic setting, you should use formal language, which means:
- No contractions
- Avoid first-person pronouns (I, we, me)
Do not include phrases such as “in my opinion” or “I think”. In a critical analysis, the reader already assumes that the claims are your opinions.
Your instructor may have specific guidelines for the writing style to use. If the instructor assigns a style guide for the class, be sure to use the guidelines in the style manual in your writing.
Additional t ips for writing a critical analysis essay
To conclude this article, here are some additional tips for writing a critical analysis essay:
- Give yourself plenty of time to read the source material. If you have time, read through the text once to get the gist and a second time to take notes.
- Outlining your essay can help you save time. You don’t have to stick exactly to the outline though. You can change it as needed once you start writing.
- Spend the bulk of your writing time working on your thesis and critical analysis. The introduction and conclusion are important, but these sections cannot make up for a weak thesis or critical analysis.
- Give yourself time between your first draft and your second draft. A day or two away from your essay can make it easier to see what you need to improve.
Frequently Asked Questions about critical analyses
In the introduction of a critical analysis essay, you should give background information on the source that you are analyzing. Be sure to include the author’s name and the title of the work. Your thesis normally goes in the introduction as well.
A critical analysis has four main parts.
The focus of a critical analysis should be on the work being analyzed rather than on you. This means that you should avoid using first person unless your instructor tells you to do otherwise. Most formal academic writing is written in third person.
How many paragraphs your critical analysis should have depends on the assignment and will most likely be determined by your instructor. However, in general, your critical analysis paper should have three to six paragraphs, unless otherwise stated.
Your critical analysis ends with your conclusion. You should restate the thesis and make closing remarks, but avoid summarizing the main points of your critical analysis unless your essay is so long that readers might have forgotten parts of it.
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What Is a Critical Analysis Essay: Definition
What Is a Critical Analysis Essay
Have you ever had to read a book or watch a movie for school and then write an essay about it? Well, a critical analysis essay is a type of essay where you do just that! So, when wondering what is a critical analysis essay, know that it's a fancy way of saying that you're going to take a closer look at something and analyze it.
So, let's say you're assigned to read a novel for your literature class. A critical analysis essay would require you to examine the characters, plot, themes, and writing style of the book. You would need to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and provide your own thoughts and opinions on the text.
Similarly, if you're tasked with writing a critical analysis essay on a scientific article, you would need to analyze the methodology, results, and conclusions presented in the article and evaluate its significance and potential impact on the field.
The key to a successful critical analysis essay is to approach the subject matter with an open mind and a willingness to engage with it on a deeper level. By doing so, you can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the subject matter and develop your own informed opinions and perspectives. Considering this, we bet you want to learn how to write critical analysis essay easily and efficiently, so keep on reading to find out more!
Meanwhile, if you'd rather have your own sample critical analysis essay crafted by professionals from our custom writings , contact us to buy essays online .
Critical Analysis Essay Topics by Category
If you're looking for an interesting and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, you've come to the right place! Critical analysis essays can cover many subjects and topics, with endless possibilities. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of critical analysis essay topics by category. We've got you covered whether you're interested in literature, science, social issues, or something else. So, grab a notebook and pen, and get ready to dive deep into your chosen topic. In the following sections, we will provide you with various good critical analysis paper topics to choose from, each with its unique angle and approach.
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Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Mass Media
From television and radio to social media and advertising, mass media is everywhere, shaping our perceptions of the world around us. As a result, it's no surprise that critical analysis essays on mass media are a popular choice for students and scholars alike. To help you get started, here are ten critical essay example topics on mass media:
- The Influence of Viral Memes on Pop Culture: An In-Depth Analysis.
- The Portrayal of Mental Health in Television: Examining Stigmatization and Advocacy.
- The Power of Satirical News Shows: Analyzing the Impact of Political Commentary.
- Mass Media and Consumer Behavior: Investigating Advertising and Persuasion Techniques.
- The Ethics of Deepfake Technology: Implications for Trust and Authenticity in Media.
- Media Framing and Public Perception: A Critical Analysis of News Coverage.
- The Role of Social Media in Shaping Political Discourse and Activism.
- Fake News in the Digital Age: Identifying Disinformation and Its Effects.
- The Representation of Gender and Diversity in Hollywood Films: A Critical Examination.
- Media Ownership and Its Impact on Journalism and News Reporting: A Comprehensive Study.
Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Sports
Sports are a ubiquitous aspect of our culture, and they have the power to unite and inspire people from all walks of life. Whether you're an athlete, a fan, or just someone who appreciates the beauty of competition, there's no denying the significance of sports in our society. If you're looking for an engaging and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, sports offer a wealth of possibilities:
- The Role of Sports in Diplomacy: Examining International Relations Through Athletic Events.
- Sports and Identity: How Athletic Success Shapes National and Cultural Pride.
- The Business of Sports: Analyzing the Economics and Commercialization of Athletics.
- Athlete Activism: Exploring the Impact of Athletes' Social and Political Engagement.
- Sports Fandom and Online Communities: The Impact of Social Media on Fan Engagement.
- The Representation of Athletes in the Media: Gender, Race, and Stereotypes.
- The Psychology of Sports: Exploring Mental Toughness, Motivation, and Peak Performance.
- The Evolution of Sports Equipment and Technology: From Innovation to Regulation.
- The Legacy of Sports Legends: Analyzing Their Impact Beyond Athletic Achievement.
- Sports and Social Change: How Athletic Movements Shape Societal Attitudes and Policies.
Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Literature and Arts
Literature and arts can inspire, challenge, and transform our perceptions of the world around us. From classic novels to contemporary art, the realm of literature and arts offers many possibilities for critical analysis essays. Here are ten original critic essay example topics on literature and arts:
- The Use of Symbolism in Contemporary Poetry: Analyzing Hidden Meanings and Significance.
- The Intersection of Art and Identity: How Self-Expression Shapes Artists' Works.
- The Role of Nonlinear Narrative in Postmodern Novels: Techniques and Interpretation.
- The Influence of Jazz on African American Literature: A Comparative Study.
- The Complexity of Visual Storytelling: Graphic Novels and Their Narrative Power.
- The Art of Literary Translation: Challenges, Impact, and Interpretation.
- The Evolution of Music Videos: From Promotional Tools to a Unique Art Form.
- The Literary Techniques of Magical Realism: Exploring Reality and Fantasy.
- The Impact of Visual Arts in Advertising: Analyzing the Connection Between Art and Commerce.
- Art in Times of Crisis: How Artists Respond to Societal and Political Challenges.
Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Culture
Culture is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of our society, encompassing everything from language and religion to art and music. As a result, there are countless possibilities for critical analysis essays on culture. Whether you're interested in exploring the complexities of globalization or delving into the nuances of cultural identity, there's a wealth of topics to choose from:
- The Influence of K-Pop on Global Youth Culture: A Comparative Study.
- Cultural Significance of Street Art in Urban Spaces: Beyond Vandalism.
- The Role of Mythology in Shaping Indigenous Cultures and Belief Systems.
- Nollywood: Analyzing the Cultural Impact of Nigerian Cinema on the African Diaspora.
- The Language of Hip-Hop Lyrics: A Semiotic Analysis of Cultural Expression.
- Digital Nomads and Cultural Adaptation: Examining the Subculture of Remote Work.
- The Cultural Significance of Tattooing Among Indigenous Tribes in Oceania.
- The Art of Culinary Fusion: Analyzing Cross-Cultural Food Trends and Innovation.
- The Impact of Cultural Festivals on Local Identity and Economy.
- The Influence of Internet Memes on Language and Cultural Evolution.
How to Write a Critical Analysis
When wondering how to write a critical analysis essay, remember that it can be a challenging but rewarding process. Crafting a critical analysis example requires a careful and thoughtful examination of a text or artwork to assess its strengths and weaknesses and broader implications. The key to success is to approach the task in a systematic and organized manner, breaking it down into two distinct steps: critical reading and critical writing. Here are some tips for each step of the process to help you write a critical essay.
Step 1: Critical Reading
Here are some tips for critical reading that can help you with your critical analysis paper:
- Read actively : Don't just read the text passively, but actively engage with it by highlighting or underlining important points, taking notes, and asking questions.
- Identify the author's main argument: Figure out what the author is trying to say and what evidence they use to support their argument.
- Evaluate the evidence: Determine whether the evidence is reliable, relevant, and sufficient to support the author's argument.
- Analyze the author's tone and style: Consider the author's tone and style and how it affects the reader's interpretation of the text.
- Identify assumptions: Identify any underlying assumptions the author makes and consider whether they are valid or questionable.
- Consider alternative perspectives: Consider alternative perspectives or interpretations of the text and consider how they might affect the author's argument.
- Assess the author's credibility : Evaluate the author's credibility by considering their expertise, biases, and motivations.
- Consider the context: Consider the historical, social, cultural, and political context in which the text was written and how it affects its meaning.
- Pay attention to language: Pay attention to the author's language, including metaphors, symbolism, and other literary devices.
- Synthesize your analysis: Use your analysis of the text to develop a well-supported argument in your critical analysis essay.
Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing
Here are some tips for critical analysis writing, with examples:
- Start with a strong thesis statement: A strong critical analysis thesis is the foundation of any critical analysis essay. It should clearly state your argument or interpretation of the text. You can also consult us on how to write a thesis statement . Meanwhile, here is a clear example:
- Weak thesis statement: 'The author of this article is wrong.'
- Strong thesis statement: 'In this article, the author's argument fails to consider the socio-economic factors that contributed to the issue, rendering their analysis incomplete.'
- Use evidence to support your argument: Use evidence from the text to support your thesis statement, and make sure to explain how the evidence supports your argument. For example:
- Weak argument: 'The author of this article is biased.'
- Strong argument: 'The author's use of emotional language and selective evidence suggests a bias towards one particular viewpoint, as they fail to consider counterarguments and present a balanced analysis.'
- Analyze the evidence : Analyze the evidence you use by considering its relevance, reliability, and sufficiency. For example:
- Weak analysis: 'The author mentions statistics in their argument.'
- Strong analysis: 'The author uses statistics to support their argument, but it is important to note that these statistics are outdated and do not take into account recent developments in the field.'
- Use quotes and paraphrases effectively: Use quotes and paraphrases to support your argument and properly cite your sources. For example:
- Weak use of quotes: 'The author said, 'This is important.'
- Strong use of quotes: 'As the author points out, 'This issue is of utmost importance in shaping our understanding of the problem' (p. 25).'
- Use clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language to make your argument easy to understand, and avoid jargon or overly complicated language. For example:
- Weak language: 'The author's rhetorical devices obfuscate the issue.'
- Strong language: 'The author's use of rhetorical devices such as metaphor and hyperbole obscures the key issues at play.'
- Address counterarguments: Address potential counterarguments to your argument and explain why your interpretation is more convincing. For example:
- Weak argument: 'The author is wrong because they did not consider X.'
- Strong argument: 'While the author's analysis is thorough, it overlooks the role of X in shaping the issue. However, by considering this factor, a more nuanced understanding of the problem emerges.'
- Consider the audience: Consider your audience during your writing process. Your language and tone should be appropriate for your audience and should reflect the level of knowledge they have about the topic. For example:
- Weak language: 'As any knowledgeable reader can see, the author's argument is flawed.'
- Strong language: 'Through a critical analysis of the author's argument, it becomes clear that there are gaps in their analysis that require further consideration.'
Get more info about HOW TO WRITE A THESIS STATEMENT
Creating a Critical Analysis Essay Outline
Creating a detailed outline is essential when writing a critical analysis essay. It helps you organize your thoughts and arguments, ensuring your essay flows logically and coherently. Here is a detailed critical analysis outline from our dissertation writers :
A. Background information about the text and its author
B. Brief summary of the text
C. Thesis statement that clearly states your argument
II. Analysis of the Text
A. Overview of the text's main themes and ideas
B. Examination of the author's writing style and techniques
C. Analysis of the text's structure and organization
III. Evaluation of the Text
A. Evaluation of the author's argument and evidence
B. Analysis of the author's use of language and rhetorical strategies
C. Assessment of the text's effectiveness and relevance to the topic
IV. Discussion of the Context
A. Exploration of the historical, cultural, and social context of the text
B. Examination of the text's influence on its audience and society
C. Analysis of the text's significance and relevance to the present day
V. Counter Arguments and Responses
A. Identification of potential counterarguments to your argument
B. Refutation of counterarguments and defense of your position
C. Acknowledgement of the limitations and weaknesses of your argument
A. Recap of your argument and main points
B. Evaluation of the text's significance and relevance
C. Final thoughts and recommendations for further research or analysis.
This outline can be adjusted to fit the specific requirements of your essay. Still, it should give you a solid foundation for creating a detailed and well-organized critical analysis essay.
Useful Techniques Used in Literary Criticism
There are several techniques used in literary criticism to analyze and evaluate a work of literature. Here are some of the most common techniques:
- Close reading: This technique involves carefully analyzing a text to identify its literary devices, themes, and meanings.
- Historical and cultural context: This technique involves examining the historical and cultural context of a work of literature to understand the social, political, and cultural influences that shaped it.
- Structural analysis: This technique involves analyzing the structure of a text, including its plot, characters, and narrative techniques, to identify patterns and themes.
- Formalism: This technique focuses on the literary elements of a text, such as its language, imagery, and symbolism, to analyze its meaning and significance.
- Psychological analysis: This technique examines the psychological and emotional aspects of a text, including the motivations and desires of its characters, to understand the deeper meanings and themes.
- Feminist and gender analysis: This technique focuses on the representation of gender and sexuality in a text, including how gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced or challenged.
- Marxist and social analysis: This technique examines the social and economic structures portrayed in a text, including issues of class, power, and inequality.
By using these and other techniques, literary critics can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of works of literature, helping readers to understand and appreciate the complexity and richness of the texts.
Sample Critical Analysis Essay
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What is "critical analysis".
"Critical analysis" is a desirable skill in all aspects of your university work, but what actually is it? As Brown and Keely discuss, analysing critically is a process of deconstructing what you read, write and listen to in a rational and logical manner (2012). It requires you to move beyond describing and analysing to evaluating, criticising and postulating on what you process.
However, while you are encouraged to critique, your response always has to be informed and well-grounded in research and wide reading. Critical analysis moves beyond simple description of a particular topic into the realms of analysis and evaluation, as visualised in the diagram below:
Description: Who? What? Where? When?
Analysis: How? Why?
Evaluation: So What? What If? What Next?
As shown in the diagram, description and simple analysis must precede evaluation, which is where critical analysis lies. With your evaluative skills you must be able to ask yourself what all the description and analysis actually means, what it says about the author or topic and what its implications are.
Critical analysis is associated with a "deep approach" to your learning, which means that you relate new knowledge to what you already know. It also requires the examination of theoretical concepts and ideas; comparing and contrasting issues and perspectives to challenge your own understandings and to speculate and seek out implications. Furthermore, you must be able to distinguish between what is evidence and what is an argument. This involves questioning assumptions, recognising generalisations, and identifying bias in what you see, read and hear. Thinking critically helps you to uncover links across large and diverse bodies of knowledge enabling you to synthesise your own informed ideas.
Why is it so important?
At university, it is essential to think critically as it allows you to understand and analyse the evidence, ideas and claims within your particular field of study. Critical analysis allows you to have greater clarity on the issues and information you process. Academic disciplines are kept alive through constant reflection, debate and refinement of ideas. Critical analysis is thus crucial to the survival and renewal of all fields of enquiry.
How do I start to think and analyse "critically"?
In an academic context, critical analysis requires you to do the following in all your endeavours:
- Provide informed reasoning backed by evidence and ideas from trustworthy academic resources such as books and peer-reviewed journal articles.
- Identify context, background and/or bias that may lead to distortion within what you read and hear.
- Identify and question unfounded assumptions.
- Explain the significance and consequences of particular data, arguments and conclusions made by others (Drew & Bingham 2001, pp. 281 - 282)
Questions to ask when critically analysing information
- What do I already know?
- What do I need to work out?
- Is this fact or opinion?
- What evidence do they use to back their claim?
- What are the stated and unstated assumptions in this information?
- Are there other ways we can think about this?
- Is it convincing and relevant?
- What is critical thinking (PDF)
- How to read and take notes critically (PDF)
- How to write critically (PDF)
- Effective Reading
- Peer-assessment & Self-evaluation
Browne, M & Keeley, S 2012, Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking, 10th edn, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Drew, S & Bingham, R 2001, The Student Skills Guide, 2nd edn, Gower, Aldershot, UK.
Critical Analysis: Thinking, Reading, and Writing
- What is critical thinking?
- Reading critically
Critical writing involves building a complex web of evidence from your sources building up to a claim of your own. It can be easy for your claims to get lost amidst those of other people. This video gives you some ideas of how to start developing an effective approach to writing critically.
If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Writing Critically video on YuJa (University username and password required)
Perfecting your paraphrasing
This video goes deeper into how to develop your paraphrasing skills, which are crucial for good critical writing. Writing evidence in your own words makes it clearer that you understand it, and it also makes your writing flow better and helps you make your voice heard.
If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Using paraphrases video on YuJa (University username and password required)
Structuring your essay
You can’t improve your critical writing without also improving your approach to essay structure. Watch this video for some helpful tips on how to get started.
If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Structuring your essay video on YuJa (University username and password required)
Clear communication and proof reading
Your critical thinking may be well-developed, and you may have fantastic ideas as a result. However, your reader won’t see this if they can’t understand your writing! This video will give you some ideas on how to write clearly and accurately.
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If you ever need help with finding the right phrase, check out the University of Manchester’s Academic Phrasebank. It provides lots of suggestions of how to use language in your assignments, and is broken down into sections that will help you find what you need easily.
- Academic Phrasebank Use this site for examples of linking phrases and ways to refer to sources.
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- Last Updated: Aug 22, 2023 4:51 PM
- URL: https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/critical-analysis
- Understanding Scholarly Text
Critical Analysis Diagram (text only to the right of the image)
Elements of the critical analysis, useful link: reading & writing critically.
- Literature Review
- Research Paper
- Position Paper
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A. Introduction - The introduction moves from general to specific. This is where you are:
open with a short orientation (introduce the topic area(s) with a general, broad opening sentence (or two);
answer the question with a thesis statement; and
provide a summary or 'road map' of your essay (keep it brief, but mention all the main ideas).
B. Body - The body of the essay consists of paragraphs. Each is a building block in the construction of your argument. The body is where you:
- answer the question by developing a discussion.
- show your knowledge and grasp of material you have read.
- offer exposition and evidence to develop your argument.
- use relevant examples and authoritative quotes.
If your question has more than one part, structure the body into section that deal with each part of the question.
3. Conclusion - The conclusion moves from specific to general. It should:
- restate your answer to the question;
- re-summarize the main points and;
- include a final, broad statement (about possible implication, future directions for research, to qualify the conclusion, etc.)
However, NEVER introduce new information or idea in the conclusion - its purpose is to round off your essay by summing up.
Because each section of a critical analysis builds on the section before it and supports the section to follow, the structure of this genre is usually fairly standard. The introduction and summary set the stage and the analysis communicates the critic's views which are then summarized and restated in the conclusion.
-- Text taken from The University of New South Wales. "Essay Writing: the Basics." Retrieved 17 August, 2012 from http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/essay3.html.
Writing critically requires an author to engage on an analytical level with a written work, whether it is an article, a book, or a portion of a book. In other words, to write critically is to present and explain an idea that one has had about someone else’s written work. A critical analysis may include supportive references like you would find in a research paper, but will generally have a much stronger emphasis on its author’s interpretation than you would find in an objective research paper.
Introduction – will include general information about the work being analyzed and a statement of the critical writer’s viewpoint or evaluation of the larger work.
Summarization – the thematic/background information that a reader will need to understand the critic’s analysis and the key point from the original work that is being addressed.
Critical Analysis – a review of the original author’s argument within the critical context of the analysis, with supporting evidence from the original text.
Conclusion – a restatement of the critic’s thesis and the key points of the analysis.
Although the page linked below focuses on writing critically, it also features information on reading critically, an invaluable skill in identfying different types of academic writing.
- Writing a Critical Analysis (Critique) A guide to reading and writing critically. Document prepared by the Academic Skills Center of the Shoreline Community College.
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- Last Updated: Aug 15, 2023 4:05 PM
- URL: https://bowiestate.libguides.com/academicwriting