Descriptive writing is relatively simple.
Having Trouble with Writing Critical Analysis Essays? Worry No More!
There is also the trap that it can be easy to use many, many words from your word limit, simply providing description. In providing only description, you are presenting but not transforming information; you are reporting ideas but not taking them forward in any way.
An assignment using only descriptive writing would therefore gain few marks. With critical writing you are participating in the academic debate. This is more challenging and risky. You need to weigh up the evidence and arguments of others, and to contribute your own. You will need to:. A much higher level of skill is clearly needed for critical writing than for descriptive writing, and this is reflected in the higher marks it is given.
When you engage in critical writing you are developing your own academic voice within your subject.
Wellington et al. They suggest that the academic voice will involve:. Wellington J.
Succeeding with your doctorate. London: Sage.
What is critical writing
Try to get into the habit of writing critically, by making sure that you read critically, and that you include critique in your writing. It can be tempting to string together quotes to support an argument, feeling that the more quotes you include, the stronger your argument. It is important, however, to remember that you also need to interpret the quotes to the reader, and to explain their relevance, discuss their validity, and show how they relate to other evidence. You can use paragraphs to make a clear and visual separation between descriptive writing and critical analysis, by switching to a new paragraph when you move from description to critical writing, and vice versa.
This can help in:. A paragraph break can provide a brief pause for your readers within a longer argument; giving them the opportunity to make sure they are keeping up with your reasoning.
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Paragraphs that are overly long can require readers to hold too much in their mind at once, resulting in their having to re-read the material until they can identify the point you are making. You can also use paragraphs to push yourself to include critical writing alongside descriptive writing or referencing, by considering each paragraph almost as an essay in miniature. Within each paragraph you would:. A certain amount of descriptive writing is essential, particularly in the earlier parts of the essay or assignment or dissertation.
What is descriptive writing?
Beyond that, however, there is a danger that too much descriptive writing will use up valuable words from your word limit, and reduce the space you have for the critical writing that will get you higher marks. A useful habit to get into is to make sure that, if you describe some evidence relevant to your argument, you need then to explain to the reader why it is relevant. The logic of your explanation contributes to the critical component of your writing.
So, a sentence or two might describe and reference the evidence, but this is not enough in itself. The next few sentences need to explain what this evidence contributes to the argument you are making. This may feel like duplication at first, or that you are explaining something that is obvious, but it is your responsibility to ensure that the relevance of the evidence is explained to the reader; you should not simply assume that the reader will be following the same logic as you, or will just work out the relevance of the quote or data you have described. So far this study guide has considered the detail of what you write.
The other key element in critical writing is the overall structure of your piece of writing. For maximum effectiveness, your writing needs to have a line, or lines of argument running through it from the Introduction to the Conclusion. Just as you have used paragraphs on a micro scale to present your critical writing, so you need to consider the ordering of those paragraphs within the overall structure. The aim is to lead your readers carefully through the thread of your argument, to a well-supported conclusion.
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Academic writing. Formal language You can make your writing more formal through the vocabulary that you use. For academic writing: choose formal instead of informal vocabulary. Objective language Although academic writing usually requires you to be objective and impersonal not mentioning personal feelings , often you may still have to present your opinion. For example, you may need to: interpret findings evaluate a theory develop an argument critique the work of others.
Move information around in the sentence to emphasise things and ideas, instead of people and feelings. Avoid evaluative words that are based on non-technical judgements and feelings. Avoid intense or emotional evaluative language. Use modality to show caution about your views, or to allow room for others to disagree. Find authoritative sources, such as authors, researchers and theorists in books or articles, who support your point of view, and refer to them in your writing.
Technical language As well as using formal language, you also need to write technically. Resources This material was developed by the Learning Centre, who offer workshops, face-to-face consultations and resources to support your learning. Related links Learning Centre. Learning Centre workshops. Reading and note taking. Critical thinking. Arts and social sciences writing support. Learning Centre Camperdown Campus.
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