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Critical Writing

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Alison Wright

on 11 October 2016

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Transcript of Critical Writing

Critical Writing
today's session
11am-12
What is critical thinking?
Reading critically & evaluating sources
Writing critically

12-1pm
Assignment advice (structure, referencing, writing style)
what is critical thinking?
Thinking clearly & rationally about something
i.e without emotion
Looking for evidence before believing something is true
Not accepting things at face value
Critical thinking
Not the same as to criticise
Term 'critical' often seen as negative
Helps you figure out whether you should believe something and how strongly you should believe it
critical thinking can be hard
Reluctance to criticise experts
Misunderstanding of critical
Own beliefs, assumptions and bias
When we strongly believe something:

We seek evidence which supports it & don’t seek/ignore evidence to the contrary

We rate evidence as good or bad, depending on whether it supports or conflicts with our belief

We stick to our beliefs even in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence, as long as we find some support

How to include this in your writing
moodle
Something we do in everyday life
evaluating sources
analysing & Evaluating sources
applying this to your work
Critical reading
Exercise 'polite doubt' (Cottrell, 2005)
Ask questions
Alison Wright
Academic Skills Adviser
alison.wright@chi.ac.uk

Ask critical questions:

What is the source? (website, newspaper, book etc.)
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this source?
What is the purpose of the writing? (bias?)
What are they arguing?
What evidence do they use?
Is it a convincing argument?
How does it compare to other sources/evidence?

How useful is it for my essay?

Not all evidence is of equal value

Exercise 'polite doubt' (Cottrell, 2005)

Need to demonstrate you have thought about the sources you use & questioned their value
You are the jury
You:
Consider the evidence (both sides)
Weigh up the strengths & weaknesses of the arguments
Reach an informed judgement (based on the evidence)
Identifying Critical Writing
Read the 5 extracts

Can you identify which are critical & which are descriptive?
Available 12-1pm for:

Advice on Essay structure

referencing questions

writing feedback
What is critical thinking?
Forms conclusion based on your evaluation
Example vocabulary for critical writing
However, this theory does not fully explain why...
One question that needs to be asked, however, is whether …
One of the limitations with this explanation is that it does not explain why…

Most studies in the field of X have only focused on …
Such approaches, however, have failed to address …

This argument seems particularly convincing because...
It is important to note the limitations in this research...


Compare & contrast different sources and reach an informed judgement

Identify flaws in arguments

Critically assess research methods & evidence

Consider implications & significance in wider context

Ways to Write Critically

Do more than just summarise what you have read

Critical writing goes beyond just describing what people have said about something.
Describe, discuss, compare, analyse and evaluate

Descriptive vs Critical Writing
Identify flaws in theory/research/argument
Mizutani et al (2007) found a link between maternal behaviours, such as smoking, skipping breakfast and sleep deprivation, and obesity in children. They compared the questionnaire results of 1417 mothers with the BMI of their children and found a significant association between mothers who smoke and children with obesity. However, the mothers who smoked were significantly younger than the non-smoking mothers so the increased BMI could be a result of factors related to the mother’s age rather than whether they smoke. As such, it is difficult to determine a clear correlation between the two variables.
Mizutani et al (2007) found a link between maternal behaviours, such as smoking, skipping breakfast and sleep deprivation, and obesity in children. They compared the questionnaire results of 1417 mothers with the BMI of their children and found a significant association between mothers who smoke and children with obesity
. However, the mothers who smoked were significantly younger than the non-smoking mothers so the increased BMI could be a result of factors related to the mother’s age rather than whether they smoke. As such, it is difficult to determine a clear correlation between the two variables.
Description of research
Critical analysis of findings
Critically assess research methods & evidence
The research strongly indicates a correlation between parental obesity and the prevalence of obesity in the child. Whilst the nature of this association is not clear, the connection seems to be relatively undisputed in the research. However methodological limitations, such as small samples sizes in a number of the studies, raise questions about the conclusions reached. It seems that through the identification of risk factors in the research design phase, a number of the studies cited exclude additional contributory variables which could affect rates of childhood obesity, such as socio-economic factors and genetics.
The research strongly indicates a correlation between parental obesity and the prevalence of obesity in the child.
Whilst the nature of this association is not clear, the connection seems to be relatively undisputed in the research. However methodological limitations, such as small samples sizes in a number of the studies, raise questions about the conclusions reached. It seems that through the identification of risk factors in the research design phase, a number of the studies cited exclude additional contributory variables which could affect rates of childhood obesity, such as socio-economic factors and genetics.
Description of research
Evaluation of research
Analyse your own writing
Select a paragraph of your writing:

What is your main point?

What evidence do you use?

Is there any critical writing or is it just descriptive?
Find more examples at the University of Manchester's Academic Phrasebank (google it)
Full transcript