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Academic Writing Tips: Expanding Critical Thinking Abilities

Critical Thinking is the Hallmark of Good Academic Writing

Whether you are writing a response paper, a research term paper, an application essay, a thesis, a piece of journalism, or a dissertation, it is imperative that you master critical thinking skills. Professors and admissions committees alike thoroughly review papers not only for the general, absolute quality of their prose, but for the level of analysis presented.

A strong writer cannot rely on command over the English language, no matter how impacable their grammar is; strong writers also possess an amazing command of logic and rhetoric, and dispatch those skills in all their work. You should learn to think critically at all times, and demonstrate strong thinking skills and hearty skepticism in everything that you write.

How Can You Hone Your Critical Thinking Skills?

But how do you hone these razor sharp thinking abilities, and furthermore how do you learn to insert them in all your written work? Follow some of these tips below for assistance. After a bit of practice, you will find that your critical thinking abilities have been widely expanded and you are applying them to all your writing assignments, large and small.

  1. Never take anything for granted. Whenever you encounter a claim, ask yourself whether it is plausible, no matter how large or small the claim is.

  2. Do not accept common knowledge or believe in something simply because many people have reiterated it.

  3. Ask questions about everything you encounter. What is the source of the message? What is the goal of the message? Does it make sense?

  4. When a claim of cause and effect is made, ask yourself what the underlying mechanism is for the pattern. How did x actually cause y? Does this relationship make sense?

  5. Be skeptical of others’ intentions. Often, factual claims are made to further some point or promote some interest. See if there is any vested financial or political reason (or some other reason) for a person to believe something or make a certain claim.

  6. Be conscious of your own biases. Accept information that could disprove your own beliefs, and think about it in a fair, objective fashion.

  7. Similarly, you should be aware of the biases that cloud others’ judgments. Note how people keep themselves from admitting or accepting facts that do not serve them. Avoid making these mistakes yourself.

  8. Never believe something without having a strong factual support for it, as well as a highly structured, logical argument.

  9. Listen to other people, even people who differ from you in many ways.