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Analysing information and being ‘critical’

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1 Analysing information and being ‘critical’
‘In general students lose more marks for lack of critical analysis than any other single weakness in their work’ (Cottrell 2003:232). What type of tutor feedback comments would commonly indicate a lack of critical analysis ?

2 Typical tutor comments...
‘More analysis needed’ ‘Less description more critique’ ‘Too descriptive’ ‘Descriptive rather than analytical’ ‘You have told me what theory is rather than how you evaluate it.’ ‘Lacks analysis.’

3 Critical analytical writing involves...
Moving from the general to the specific - developing ‘helicopter vision’. Distinguishing fact from opinion. Developing an argument and evidencing it. 1. Take in bottle of coke - what general things can be said about it and what specific (facts) eg stands for youth, beauty and american tradition v chemical composition and nature of packaging. Tell real coke story of attempt to change the branding through new coke and resulting decline in sales and launch of ‘real thing’. Essays often about the general which has to be brought back and connected to the specific throughout the essay moving back and forth - need the overview but not to lose sight of the specifics.

4 Critically analyse the April Robinson article from the Daily Telegraph
Critically analyse the April Robinson article from the Daily Telegraph. Consider for example ... Are there any preconceived ideas or experiences which can be seen to have affected her judgement ? How could her background affect her judgement ? What evidence has she relied upon, how accurate is it ? What significance does the date of the article have ? Has any fundamental perspective been missed? For what purpose what this written - to inform ? To educate? To persuade ? What is her personal agenda ? Who is the intended audience ? How reliable is the source ? What facts would strengthen her opinions ?

5 Being critical may involve...
AGREEING WITH, ACCEDING TO, DEFENDING OR CONFIRMING a particular view. PROPOSING a new point of view. CONCEDING that an existing point of view has certain merits but that it needs to be QUALIFIED in certain important respects. REFORMULATING an existing point of view or statement of it such that the new version makes a better explanation. DISMISSING a point of view on account of its inadequacy, irrelevance or incoherence etc.

6 Being critical may involve...
REJECTING, REBUTTING or REFUTING another’s argument on various reasoned grounds. RECONCILING two positions which may seem at variance by appealing to some ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ principle. RETRACTING or RECANTING a previous position of one’s own in the face of new argument or evidence. (Taylor 1989:67)

7 Developing an argument
‘Argument is war’ Lakoff and Johnson (1980) Metaphors we live by. Commonly interpreted in terms of: winning and losing attacking and defending

8 In the academic world other metaphors apply...
An argument is a journey or a way of building It does not mean you should necessarily: take sides present only one point of view and defend it.

9 Rather ‘argument’ means you should...
‘Explore the topic through a clear and consistent development of ideas, using adequate evidence.’ (Clancy and Blanchard 1988: 72)

10 Evidencing Critically analyse your sources of information because the strength of any argument rests on the evidence that is used to underpin it. Also critically analyse how evidence has been used to support the argument within your sources.

11 Source: Learning Development Unit, City
Critically analyse the way in which evidence has been used to support an argument in these examples. Research by Jones (1999) and Dalton (2000) shows that there was an overall increase in the incidence of such cases. A study by Ashref (2001) found 87% of respondents reported no increase. A study by Kanwal (2003) showed that mothers and fathers reacted very differently when told that their baby had a disability. Fathers became very tearful while mothers remained strong and supportive. 1. - more explanation of why the research by Ashref came to different conclusions from that of Dalton and Jones is needed. 2. We know from common sense that this is not always the way in which men and women react to distressing news . Just because research asseerts something doesn’t make it right. Source: Learning Development Unit, City

12 Source: Learning Development Unit, City
Critically analyse the way in which evidence has been used to support an argument in this example: Smith (1972) was the first person to argue that dyslexia did not exist. His conclusions are well known. Since then a number of researchers have challenged his work and his theory has been discarded. 3. Who challenged Smiths work and on what grounds ? Source: Learning Development Unit, City

13 Critically analyse your own work.
Is everything relevant to the question ? Has the question been answered fully ? Is the argument logical or does it need to be rearranged? Is it analytical and balanced ? Are my sources of evidence sound ? Is my understanding/summarising of the views of others accurate, appropriate and relevant ? Have I referenced correctly using the Harvard style ? Are the spelling and grammar correct ?

14 Building argument within a paragraph: the paragraph as dialogue.
So what is this paragraph about then ? And what exactly is that ? What is your specific argument on this topic (in relation to the essay question) ? What is your evidence ? What does it mean ? What is your final point ? How does this relate to the question ? In responding to these questions you see how you can construct a paragraph that will contribute to the development of an essay’s overall argument. Source: S. Sinfield Learning Development Unit, North

15 Developing and planning an argument from an essay title.
What is my point of view in relation to this question ? What are my reasons for thinking this? What kind of evidence could be used to back up these reasons ? What other points of view exist in relation to the question? What are the reasons for these other views? What kind of evidence could be used to back up these reasons? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these different perspectives ? Why is mine convincing ? How can I structure my thoughts into a logical and fluent argument leading to a convincing conclusion ? Source: Assessment Plus

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