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How can you think critically and analytically?

Throughout your time at the NAPC, and indeed as a researcher in general,  you will be asked to analyse, interpret and evaluate. In order to do this, you will need to learn how to engage with the work of writers, critics and theorists across a range of disciplines by developing an analytical, reflective approach to your writing. So what does critical thinking mean?

  • persistence: considering an issue carefully, and more than once
  • evidence: evaluating the evidence put forward in support of the belief or viewpoint
  • implications: considering where the belief or viewpoint leads - what conclusions would follow; are these suitable and rational; and if not, should the belief or viewpoint be reconsidered?'

additionally critical thinking involves:

  • standing back from the information given
  • examining it in detail from many angles
  • checking closely whether it is completely accurate
  • checking whether each statement follows logically from what went before
  • looking for possible flaws in the reasoning, the evidence, or the way conclusions are drawn
  • comparing the same issue from the point of view of other theorists or writers
  • being able to see and explain why one set of opinions, results or conclusions is preferable to another
  • being on guard for literary or statistical devices that encourage the reading to take questionable facts at face value
  • checking for hidden assumptions
  • checking for attempts to lure the reader into agreement

Good critical thinking involves

Being analytical

Being rigorous

Being precise

Judicious selection of supporting evidence

Presenting a well-thought through argument

Balancing differing points of view

Poor critical thinking might typically be

Subjective

Poorly structured

Descriptive (i.e. structured around narrative, rather than analysis)

Generalised

Vague

Based on unfounded or unacknowledged assumptions

Based on value judgements

Prolix(i.e. wordy)

Circular in its argument

For further explanation there are many critical thinking websites which emphasise the importance laid upon it within academic institutions. For example:

The Critical Thinking Community