Critical analysis for researchers

A critical approach is often needed for researchers when it comes to reading, writing and analysis of research articles. Being critical is not to find faults, but rather to ask questions and evaluate the reliability of what is stated. Here’s some useful information from a UTS session on ‘Critical Analysis – What is it and Why is it important for Researchers?’ 

  • There’s often not one absolute right or wrong answer, or one correct interpretation.
  • Pay attention to:
    • Can you make an outline of it?
    • Can you identify the evidence or reasoning that supports it?
    • Are they supporting it, challenging it or simply stating it?
    • What sort of language do they use?
    • How the paper’s argument has been structured
    • How the authors discuss or refer to the work of others
    • How diagrams and other non-verbal elements (if any) have been used
  • Ask questions. It is important to question the evidence behind arguments, ideas and decision making
  • Aim to address most, if not all of the below questions for your research: (Source: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/uploads/production/document/path/1/1710/Critical_Thinking.pdf):

critical-thinking-model

critical-thinking-qns

Some practical advice for critical writing

  • Move beyond describing knowledge and facts to questioning, analysing and evaluating knowledge.
  • Put boundaries to your research.
  • Acknowledge what remains problematic or unresolved (Limitations/ Future Work).
  • Provide claims with support, do not generalise (E.g. “Most authors agree..” – Who are these authors?).
  • Stick with the same terminology throughout all chapters.
  • Put evidences in tables to highlight them and to avoid descriptive text.
  • Give signals to readers and help them read through – by outlining mini introductions for each section and signposting to move from one chapter to another.
  • Identify the key arguments and relationships between authors in your literature review.
  • When integrating arguments from different sources, paraphrase them.
  • Support your key arguments with more references.
  • Include how you added more knowledge in the final chapter.
  • Add recent references during submission by including more recent work done, which did not previously exist in your initial literature review.
  • More resources on critical thinking here:

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