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Lecture Two. Understanding Academic Writing.

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1 Lecture Two. Understanding Academic Writing.
Critical, Analytical, and Creative Thinking

2 Objectives. To recognise the value of reading for a degree.
To understand how to locate appropriate resources. To identify ways of getting the most out of reading

3 Reading for a degree. Extensive reading is essential to doing a degree
Many purposes clarifying the content of your lectures Seminar preparation Assignments to increase and add to your knowledge of key sociological concepts and perspectives.

4 Sourcing Material Books and Journals Internet Electronic journals
Research papers and reports Online statistics (ONS) ALWAYS REFERENCE YOUR SOURCES METICULOUSLY!

5 Resources The type of assignment or purpose of the seminar preparation will often determine how you read these resources and what type of resources you select An hour spent looking for resources that exactly match your needs might save you 3 hours of unnecessary reading.

6 How do I identify appropriate resources? 1
Seminar outlines and reading lists journal article bibliographies Book chapter bibliographies Identify other perspectives on same topic- eg feminist, marxist, functionalist Use resources as a gateway Find resources that interest you

7 How do I identify appropriate resources? 2
Go directly to original works Use basic textbooks as an additional resource or to provide an overview of the subject matter. Try and locate alternative perspectives Formulate your own opinions and reflections

8 How do I read efficiently?
Five steps SQ and the 3 R's. Skimming, Questioning, Reading, Recalling Reviewing.

9 SQ and the 3 R's. Skimming-skim read the material, look for key theories, concepts, hypotheses or perspectives Questioning-identify questions that you expect the reading material to answer Reading, Recalling, Reviewing- Do the actual reading, recall what you have just read and review the article or chapter with reference to your own or other author's ideas

10 Critically Engaging With the Literature
Reading for a degree involves continually analysing and questioning what you are reading. Question the author's assumptions and analyise the logic of the author's argument. Try to think of counter arguments or alternative ways of looking at the problem. Evaluate the reliability and validity of the evidence the author has used always question the author's findings or conclusions.

11 Managing Your Reading Load.
examine the table of contents identify the relevant chapter or section of the book examine the introduction and conclusion Ask questions about the type of information you are looking for. Look for theory that supports and refutes the argument

12 Should I take notes while I am reading?
Note taking and annotating a text will help you engage with the material summarise what you have read. Note critiques and details of original research keep a record of the page number of any direct quotations for referencing. take notes in your own words Use symbols and abbreviations

13 Exercise. Read your handout -Martin, G. (2000) ‘New-Age Travellers’ Sociology Review 9(4): 2-5. Try to identify key arguments and important information. What are the key concepts or theories that the author uses? What is the purpose of the article? How successfully does the author achieve his aims? Can you link the authors work to the work of other sociologists? make a brief summary of the main points in the article, add notes on your own critical reflections Swap your reading notes with a friend -try to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your partner’s notes. How do they differ from your own? Can you identify areas of good practice in your partner’s notes that may be of use to you? Did you miss an important point or did you over-emphasise a marginal point?

14 Being Creative. Being creative is different to being critical
look for many possible answers rather than one allow yourself to make wild and crazy suggestions as well as those that seem sensible Don’t judge ideas early in the process - treat all ideas as if they may contain the seeds of something potentially useful allow yourself to doodle, day-dream or play with a theory or suggestion be aware that these approaches necessarily involve making lots of suggestions that are unworkable and may sound silly learn from what has not worked as well as what did

15 creative thinking techniques
Brainstorm ideas on one topic onto a large piece of paper: Allow yourself to play with an idea whilst you go for a walk Draw or paint a theory on paper. Ask the same question several times and give a different answer each time. Combine some of the features of two different objects or ideas to see if you can create several more. Change your routine. Do things a different way. Walk a different route to college. Let your mind be influenced by new stimuli such as music you do not usually listen to. Be open to ideas when they are still new: look for ways of making things work and pushing the idea to its limits. Ask questions such as 'what if….?' Or 'supposing….?'.

16 What is Critical Thinking?
When you are thinking critically, you are not just thinking passively and accepting everything you see and hear. You are thinking actively. You are asking questions about what you see and hear, evaluating, categorising, and finding relationships.

17 How does critical thinking differ between disciplines?
Different disciplines are characterised by particular approaches to critical thinking, Eg geology categorise rocks and land formations explain how they evolved predict what can be found in similar circumstances. work out what are the typical ways of thinking in your discipline Talk to the lecturer Ask questions

18 Thinking Around Your Discipline
All disciplines will require you to ask questions, relate theory to practice, find and use appropriate evidence, evaluate, find links, and categorise. Science is often concerned with interpreting within a framework, describing, explaining, predicting, and identifying cause and effect. Management is often concerned with identifying problems and solutions, relating theories to practice, and making comparisons and contrasts. IT is often concerned with analysing complex situations into component parts. Literature, History, Sociology and Political Science are often concerned with making claims and supporting them, usually in the light of a particular framework of analysis (eg feminism, postmodernism etc).

19 How does critical thinking apply to academic reading?
In reading academic texts you need to develop a personal (but nevertheless academic and rational) response to the article/ theory/ chapter through: develop an understanding of the content evaluate and critique the article read the introduction or abstract and skim read the text to give you a preliminary idea of what it is about

20 Some questions to help you read critically
What are the main points of this text? Can you put them in your own words? What sorts of examples are used? Are they useful? Can you think of others? What factors (ideas, people, things) have been included? Can you think of anything that has been missed out? Is a particular bias or framework apparent? Can you tell what 'school of thought' the author belongs to? Can you work out the steps of the argument being presented? Do all the steps follow logically? Could a different conclusion be drawn from the argument being presented? Are the main ideas in the text supported by reliable evidence (well researched, non-emotive, logical)? Do you agree or disagree with the author? Why? What connections do you see between this and other texts? Where does it differ from other texts on the same subject? What are the wider implications—for you, for the discipline?

21 Some techniques to help you read critically
When you take notes, divide your notepad into two columns. Jot down the main ideas in the left hand column, and the supporting comments in the right hand column. Add your own comments in another colour, or in brackets. Talk to other people (anyone who is interested!) about what you have read. Relate this text to others by looking for similar or contrasting themes. Think of how you might explain what the text means to, say, a high school student. What would you have to add to make it intelligible? (This will help you to see the underlying, unstated assumptions.) Ask yourself: 'Is it possible to disagree with any of this?' Ask yourself: 'How can I convince my peers/teachers that I understand what this is about?'

Interpreting according to a framework Relating theory to practice Making a claim and supporting it Using appropriate evidence Making links between ideas Asking questions Evaluating Predicting Describing Analysing Synthesising Categorising Establishing cause and effect Comparing and contrasting Identifying problems and solutions

23 How does critical thinking apply to academic writing?
Look at the sample assignment question below, and formulate some questions of your own that are relevant to the assignment topic. ‘What is Sociology? Is it relevant today?’

24 ‘What is Sociology? Is it relevant today?’
What is the lecturer looking for? If you want to say something which is new or unusual, or which your lecturer may disagree with, make sure you have EXTRA evidence and support. Make sure everything you say is backed up by evidence and references. Link what you are saying into the overall field of the discipline. Think about why this essay topic is worth writing about—what makes it particularly significant. Look at both sides of an argument

25 How can I add quality to my writing?
Be critical categorise the factors involved, evaluate cause-effect chains, make comparisons and contrasts, point out problems and suggest solutions, evaluate theories and relate them to practice Your writing must also be rational, balanced, well-argued, and based on evidence and wide reading.

26 Writing Your Conclusion
say why this topic is particularly important make a prediction about the future (based on what you have written) make an evaluation (make sure it is not too extreme and is well supported by the body of your text) suggest a solution to the problems you have described restate your central argument in convincing terms (make sure you have supported the argument rigorously through the body of your text). Even the best theory is flawed

27 combine analytical and creative thinking skills
Focus on a subject in a logical, analytical way for some time, thinking through possible solutions. Day-dream or distract the mind, but hold the same problem lightly 'at the back of the mind'. answers often emerge in dreams or day dreams when the innovator is not trying so hard to find the answer.

Interpreting according to a framework Relating theory to practice Making a claim and supporting it Using appropriate evidence Making links between ideas Asking questions Evaluating Predicting Describing Analysing Synthesising Categorising Establishing cause and effect Comparing and contrasting Identifying problems and solutions

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