-This is a good source. The authors discuss the previous studies of GAFTA in a critical way, showing the limitations of other studies, and therefore giving validity to their own study. They also reference several people to support their statements. This reassures the reader that the work is based on solid research. In addition, the passage is written in a concise formal, academic style

-This is a good source. The authors discuss the previous studies of GAFTA in a critical way, showing the limitations of other studies, and therefore giving validity to their own study. They also reference several people to support their statements. This reassures the reader that the work is based on solid research. In addition, the passage is written in a concise formal, academic style

-This passage is not written in an academic style and in most cases would not be suitable as a secondary source. It is written in a journalistic style using colloquial even sentimental language. Phrases such as "steeped in culture" and "since recorded history" would be out of place within the precise context of the critical academic paper, as they express dramatic subjective opinions rather than considered statements backed up with evidence and logical argument.

-This passage is not written in an academic style and in most cases would not be suitable as a secondary source. It is written in a journalistic style using colloquial even sentimental language. Phrases such as "steeped in culture" and "since recorded history" would be out of place within the precise context of the critical academic paper, as they express dramatic subjective opinions rather than considered statements backed up with evidence and logical argument.

Although this passage contains information, it is descriptive, and therefore does not seek to analyze the situation. Whilst this could be good for providing a quick overview of the situation, it would not be much use as the main source for a paper. It also provides an example of what you should NOT write in a paper since you need to avoid being descriptive in an academic assignment - for this encourages subjective points-of-view. In most cases you would want to refer to a much more analytic and rigorous source. It is also notable that the nature of the resource is such that this information is derived from promotional material for a company - such information is generally going to have a bias, and to be un-academic.

Tip: The kind of source you are using almost always gives a clue to the academic quality of that source.

Although this passage contains information, it is descriptive, and therefore does not seek to analyze the situation. Whilst this could be good for providing a quick overview of the situation, it would not be much use as the main source for a paper. It also provides an example of what you should NOT write in a paper since you need to avoid being descriptive in an academic assignment - for this encourages subjective points-of-view. In most cases you would want to refer to a much more analytic and rigorous source. It is also notable that the nature of the resource is such that this information is derived from promotional material for a company - such information is generally going to have a bias, and to be un-academic.

Tip: The kind of source you are using almost always gives a clue to the academic quality of that source.

Skip to main content

Critical Thinking Exercise

Consider the following three passages. To what extent does each one demonstrate critical thinking of a level appropriate for an academic paper?

1. "The great bulk of the existing literature related to the economic effects of GAFTA remains very descriptive (Sekouti, 1999 ; Tahir, 1999; Zarrouk, 2000 ; Hadhri, 2001 ; Bayar, 2005; MINEFI, 2005, etc…). A few ex-ante studies are more analytical, but focus on a small number of countries. For example, Neaime (2005) considers the impact of monetary and financial integration, especially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) liberalization across Arab countries. With regard to GAFTA trade provisions, CATT (2005) assesses the GAFTA welfare effect on specific countries, mainly Morocco and Tunisia. This assessment is achieved through computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling. Results show positive or negative welfare effects, depending on the terms of trade."

from 'Abedini, J & Peridy, N, The Great Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA): An Estimation of the Trade Effects, preliminary version, 2005

 

Critical thinking exercise: Example 1

Does this passage contain a level of rigorous critical thinking appropriate for an academic paper? What, if anything, seems problematic? What are its academic strengths?

2. "Syria is an ancient land steeped in culture and history. It has a Mediterranean climate which varies from the dry hot steppe country of its vast desert, to its snow along the coastal ranges. Since recorded history, agriculture in the rich and fertile crescent of the coastal mountains, through north Syria and down the Euphrates Valley all the way to Iraq...Agricultural Production has considerably developed during recent years as a result of investment development for natural resources and adopting modern techniques in all fields of Agricultural production, besides the good Policies and Procedures taken by the government to encourage agricultural investment and to develop it vertically and horizontally. As a result self sufficiency has been achieved for most products, also surplus is available for export for many agricultural commodities of good quality".

From: www.syrianagriculture.com (accessed 16th July 2007)

 

Critical thinking exercise: Example 2

Does this passage contain a level of rigorous critical thinking appropriate for an academic paper? What, if anything, seems problematic? What are its academic strengths?

3. "Specialists acknowledge that olives were first a native of the lands of greater Syria (nearly six thousand years ago) before spreading to the rest of the Mediterranean basin. Legend claims that the Olive tree made its first appearance in Syria, in the ancient city-state of Ebla. The kingdom of Ebla is located on the outskirts of the Syrian city Aleppo. During the height of its power (2600-2240 BC), Ebla dominated northern Syria, Lebanon, and parts of northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and enjoyed trade and diplomatic relations with states as far away as Egypt, Iran, and Sumer...The cultivation of the Olive trees, is one of the oldest signs of civilization in the world. It even preceded writing. The Olive culture, derived from the benefits of Olive Oil, and the mythology linked to it spread through the Phoenicians to Greece, and from Greece to Rome, and then to the rest of the Western world. In the past few hundred years, the growth of Olive has spread to the Americas, Japan, Australia, and South Africa. Nevertheless, until this day around 99 percent of all olive oil still spills from the rim of the Mediterranean."

from www.oliveoilsyria.com (accessed 16th July 2007)

 

Critical thinking exercise: Example 3

Does this passage contain a level of rigorous critical thinking appropriate for an academic paper? What, if anything, seems problematic? What are its academic strengths?

Further advice

Here are some questions you could ask of your work to make sure you are thinking critically:

1.'What does my question mean and do I understand what is required of me?'

2. 'Am I looking at this problem from many different angles?'

3. 'Have I paid close enough critical attention to all my sources?'

4. 'Can I reduce the crux of my argument to a single sentence or a short paragraph?' (this shows you have got a clear overview of what you are thinking)

5. 'What is the most effective structure for my argument?'

6. 'Have I supported my argument with the strongest available evidence and reasons?'

7. 'Have I developed my argument logically, stage by stage, or have I merely written a narrative?'

8. 'Is my argument consistent, or does it contain internal contradictions?'