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Postgraduate Study

Developing critical writing

Developing critical writing

Writing critically is something that you will learn how to do through writing for your postgraduate courses and working on your thesis.  You may not be very good at it to start with.  This is not a reflection on your intelligence, rather it is a reminder that academic discourse is a language to be learned, and the more you do it, the better you get at it.

The following is a list of things you can do to manage the process of writing at this level.

  • Write early and often - you are building a new set of skills so you have to practice them as much as possible.
  • Write with a plan - at the very least have a set of heading or themes under which you can list ideas.
  • Make appointments to submit writing to your supervisor on a regular basis.  Small and often is generally better than large amounts infrequently.
  • Expect to revise several times.  Your supervisor's feedback is a guide for revising.  Also, rather than seeing it as being negative, focus on how you can use the suggestions or comments to improve your writing.
  • Allow yourself the time to revise - try to ensure there is some time to review your work.   An important way to review your writing is by reading it out loud and slowly.  This can take a little more time than reading it over silently but it is far more effective in terms of identifying gaps or errors.
  • When reviewing your work, look for unanswered questions or incomplete ideas and for places where you may have repeated yourself unnecessarily.  Addressing these three issues well can significantly improve a piece of writing.