Part of becoming a successful critical reader is being able to translate the thoughts you had whilst reading into your writing. Below are some written examples of the observations a critical reader may make whilst commenting on various issues in text.
NOTE: The critical analysis component of each example below is highlighted in blue.
Further examples of critical writing can be found on the UniLearning Website.
Overgeneralisations and assumptions
Researchers often make simplifying assumptions when tackling a complex problem. While the results might provide some insight, these answers will also likely have some limitations.
Researchers may simplify the conditions under which an experiment occurs, compared to the real world, in order to be able to more easily investigate what is going on.
Objectivity of research
Some research may be biased in its structure.
Limitations due to sample group
Limitations can arise due to participant numbers. Example:
Limitations can also arise if there is a limited range of participants.
Limits to applicability
There can be concerns with studies’ applicability, for a number of reasons.
Results not replicated
One such reason could be that the study results have not been replicated in any other study. If results have not been replicated, it indicates that the results are suggestive, rather than conclusive.
Long term effects unknown
There would be limits to applicability if long term effects have not been tested.
It is important to look for things that have not been discussed within studies to ascertain whether this would limit the applicability of the results.
Correlation vs. causation
It is important to be aware that just because one variable is correlated with another, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one variable is the cause of another.
1) The main purpose of this article is ______________________.
2) The key question that the author is addressing is __________________________.
3) The most important information in this article is ___________________________.( Here you are looking for facts, experiences, data the author is using to support her/his conclusions).
4) The main inferences/conclusions in this article are ________________.
5) The key idea(s) we need to understand in this article is (are)_______________ . By these ideas the author means ________________________________. (To identify these ideas, ask yourself: What are the most important ideas that you would have to understand in order to understand the author’s line of reasoning? Then elaborate briefly what the author means by these ideas).
6) The main assumption(s) underlying the author’s thinking is (are)________ (Ask yourself: What is the author taking for granted (that might be questioned). The assumptions are generalizations that the author does not think s/he has to defend in the context of writing the article, and they are usually unstated. This is where the author’s thinking logically begins).
7) If a) we take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications are ___________. (What consequences are likely to follow if people take the author’s line of reasoning seriously? Here you are to follow out the logical implications of the author’s position. You should include implications that the author states, if you believe them to be logical, but you should do your best thinking to determine what you think the implications are.) If b) we fail to take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications are _____________. (What consequences are likely to follow if people ignore the author’s reasoning?)
8) The main point(s) of view presented in this article is are)_____________________.