Critical thinking is often perceived by us as something ordinary. When answering the question about what it is, people usually recall various characteristics and requirements to the process of constructing judgments, such as “question everything,” “use logic,” “recheck information,” and others. But when it comes to a critical analysis paper, students usually get stuck and instead of writing an analysis, their essay becomes descriptive. So how to stick to an analysis in your essay and not get trapped with excessive descriptiveness?
Critical thinking is a system of judgments that helps to analyze and formulate reasonable conclusions, create your own assessment of what is happening, and interpret it. It can be said that critical thinking is high-level thinking that allows you to question the incoming information. It is also often defined as evaluative, reflective, or “thinking about thinking.”
Critical Thinking Skills – Why You Need It? Critical thinking has many definitions in philosophical and psychological works, but all researchers agree that for critical writing, you need the following skills:
- Analyzing and synthesizing.
- Induction and deduction.
- Using logic.
- To move from abstract to concrete.
What Does It Mean to Think Critically
Critical thinking involves analysis – a process that allows the deconstruction of the object into parts. Usually, it consists of a basic premise, claims that are derived from it, and a conclusion. That means that the basic premise may be true only in particular situations. For example, applying heroin for the treatment of coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other diseases was justified in the 19th century, but for today it is not applicable due to the side effects and the overall impact on the body. This attention is an example of how to think critically has changed society’s behavior over time.
Components of Critical Analysis
When speaking about the critical analysis of a text, students should identify what information is present in the article and define its content. This kind of research is used to determine the depth of an author’s research, the originality of the ideas, its application today, the readability of text to an ordinary reader, the style of writing, and the presentation of thoughts in the article.
Every assignment will have a particular structure, so be sure that you adapt these steps and advice for your case.
1. Read the assignment and added material. You need to understand what sort of analysis you should do and know what you are going to analyze. Make notes while reading:
If the material has a title, check it. Evaluate how important the topic is itself in modern conditions, and how the author understands it from his point of view.
Find the author’s thesis. What is being argued? Why has the author picked the topic? What is the context of the argument? Does the issue have a solution?
Identify all main ideas and supporting evidence. How are the author’s arguments supported?
What methods of persuasion does the author use to appeal to the audience? There are three kinds that are usually used: ethos (appeal to the author’s authority), pathos (appeal to emotions), and logos (logical attraction and its stimulation).
Consider your emotions and thoughts that appear while reading. Do you have any questions?
2. Write the analysis.
Briefly describe the main information of what you are going to analyze. Don’t forget to mention the author, title, and date. This information may be presented as a summary.
In the first paragraph it will be suitable to tell about the author’s argument: “The author states in his work …” Analyze how the author has presented facts and evidence, how it was presented, and how his own opinion is displayed in this work. The main thing for students is to consider how the author investigates and describes the events.
In the next paragraphs you should evaluate the author’s point that you have listed in the previous paragraph. Support your evaluation with evidence from the text.
Check how citations fit the context of material and how informative they reflect the main points. Check the literature which the author mentions at the end of the text. If the text contains statistics, you need to verify how reliable they are. Make sure that your citations and quotes are properly organized.
Keep in mind that your work is a critical analysis, not a summary or descriptive essay. Make sure that you have provided not only a summary, but also added a critique to the text.
At the end, make sure that you have properly evaluated the author’s text. Is the material valid, useful, significant, worthwhile, truthful, or important?
Critical Writing Structure
Usually, every critical analysis essay begins with a brief summary of text and continues with arguments. In practice, the word count of such essays is limited to 500-1000 words, so it is important to remain concise while writing the analysis. Writing the outline is a great decision and it will help you properly organize your thoughts, avoid needless descriptions, and focus on your arguments.
Every structure of a critical analysis paper will differ from another, so stick to these recommendations and organize your arguments in the following way:
- Start from more important conclusions and move to the less important.
- If critical remarks are more positive than negative, then thoughts should be presented in the sequence of positive conclusions first, then negative.
- If critical remarks are more negative than positive, then the material is presented in a different sequence: first negative conclusions, then positive conclusions.
- If each criterion has both positive and negative observations, then you must decide what is outweighed in the end. For example, a student wanted to comment on the main idea of scientific work. He identified positive and negative factors. He can begin with stating a good idea, and then go on to explain its limitations. This example shows a mixed assessment of scientific work, but in general, a student can come to the conclusion that the result is still negative.
- In a voluminous analysis, you can refer to each chosen criterion and reflect both positive and negative factors. In a very short analysis (one page or part of it), it is better to make two paragraphs, reflecting in one paragraph the positive aspects, and in the other – the negative ones.
- You can also include recommendations on how the text can be used in terms of ideas, research assumptions, theoretical approach, and research boundaries.
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