The basis of any essay is the reading you have done. There is no shortcut; the more knowledge you have, the better. A critical approach starts with active rather than passive reading. A statement in a book or article is not necessarily a "fact", just the argument of that writer. Make your reading an active process: question everything, compare and contrast with other authors/views, link to your own experience. Try to capture this process in your notetaking, whatever your style, identifying your thoughts and questions as you go along; these will inform your essay.
There are numerous suggestions for critical questions you can use to analyse the literature, but they depend on the type of information you are reading. This Critical reading grid is a generic set of questions to encourage critical engagement with your reading. The Critical notetaking form accompanies it to record your answers.
Critical Reading Tutorials
These tutorials provide a worked example of critical analysis of a journal article and will help you understand how to use the Critical reading grid to evaluate a piece of research.
|Critical Reading Foundations|
|Critical Reading Next Steps|