What is critical thinking?
A set of skills and an attitude of mind that you will need to cultivate and practise
Thinking critically through targetted reading helps you build your argument as you go
Spot the signals in the brief
Discuss, analyse, synthesise, contrast, consider, compare, evaluate,
criticise, interpret, justify.
Read and interact with texts
- See note making and research.
- Always consider the purpose, context and the author’s motivation.
- Practise summarising and paraphrasing.
- Be curious and explore – but watch out for distractions (keep reminding yourself to focus).
- Compare and evaluate views from different sources.
- Creating spidergrams and concept maps shows the bigger picture and how ideas fit together.
In your writing
- Be well informed rather than opinionated.
- Show that your ideas and interpretations have developed from the research that you have done.
- You won’t always find a single clear answer or interpretation – you may need to embrace uncertainty.
- See writing tips.
- Compare, contrast, evaluate and contextualise views from a range of authors
- Remember that academic debate will rarely arrive at a single answer
Be logical and informed
- Aim to be logical, reasonable, focussed and systematic
- Be informed rather than opinionated
- Use different paragraphs to separate critical writing from writing that is just descriptive