As a student or professional writer working with research papers and other kinds of assignments, you might have heard many times that being critical is key to successful composition. This is especially topical for academic works, since you have to base them on the solid evidence and present your competent interpretation of facts and claims included into those sources. But how to develop critical reading and thinking skills effectively? What is overall critical thinking and its role in the writing process? Let’s deal with these issues closely and find out some workable tips for boosting your research potential through critical thinking.
What Is Critical Thinking?
Activities of critical thinking and reading are closely interlinked; while critical reading presupposes close and detailed reading of the source to determine the degree of its credibility and relevance for an academic work, critical thinking is the next step of analyzing the selected reading and discerning its broader implications for the research topic. The act of critical thinking is essentially connected with evaluation of the information identified during the reading process, and it involves an intellectual process of conceptualizing and applying data to a specific object. Besides this, the scholar has to use the skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation to transform that collected information into bits of evidence for substantiation of his or her own study.
It is necessary to note that critical thinking is not always derived from critical reading; some scholars also associate it with the acts of observation, experiential learning, reflection, reasoning, and communication with other people. Hence, any acts of knowledge acquisition and interactions can be the source for critical thinking and making inferences from it. Based on such a definition, critical thinking is related to such universal intellectual values as clarity, accuracy, and consistency. To be considered truly critical thinking, it should also contain such features as precision, relevance, depth, breadth, and fairness. Obviously, it is not easy to achieve such a level of thinking, but if you are disciplined enough, you can achieve success in this process without trouble.
What Processes Does Critical Thinking Involve?
Now that we know what critical thinking is, it’s high time to discuss what it consists of; it is the easiest way to decompose this seemingly complex concept and learn critical thinking skills quicker. The major features critical thinking possesses include being:
Based on these features, one may understand that critical thinking is the product of a strong and conscious willpower of the researcher. To become a truly critical thinker, you have to follow the strict standards of academic excellence and execute thinking as a mindful, conscious act rather than an unconscious activity given to us by nature. Critical thinking means seizing to be a passive consumer of knowledge produced by other people and becoming the one who actively processes the body of existing knowledge to produce his or her own product – new knowledge.
For this to work out, a beginning critical thinker should master the following characteristics:
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Think rationally. This entails using logic during processing of any material, as only on the basis of logical analysis, critical thinking outcomes will be relevant and sound.
Develop self-awareness. This skill requires approaching analysis from the viewpoint of knowing your own individuality and biases, and comprehending the impact that it may produce on your analysis.
Approach materials and evidence with honesty and open-mindedness. This feature is essentially about being true to yourself and facing your own biases with an open mind not to allow them to affect your judgment. Moreover, being open-minded means that you can embrace diverse viewpoints with objectivity.
Develop sober, objective judgment. Possessing this skill means that you are capable of developing an opinion based on the presented and analyzed information.
Become more disciplined. This feature also speaks about your ability to be objective and to exercise conscious control over your thinking process not to allow any deviations and biases.
How Will Critical Thinking Aid Your Writing?
Needless to say, critical thinking is an integral component of any intellectual effort that you as a student, a researcher, or a simply attentive reader exercise on a daily basis when consuming materials and producing conclusions from them. It is a necessary element of intellectual life, so if you wish to produce thoughtful writing based on scholarly evidence, you can’t do without critical thinking at any step of producing that writing. By using critical thinking skills, you will always be able to discern the gist of every reading, to analyze presented ideas and concepts from the viewpoint of their significance, identify the clarity of the author’s purpose, logic of his or her viewpoint and claims, etc. Becoming an apt critical thinker seems hard and unattainable, but a proper amount of patience and discipline will quickly move you to the desired point. Thus, we recommend paying special attention to development of critical thinking skills early at the onset of education to become a skilled writer and an insightful reader – these skills will always come in handy in education and further life.