Critical Analysis Essay
A critical analysis simply means an impartial evaluation of what has been written about a topic, based on knowledge. It is not meant to be a personal or editorial essay in the sense of positive and negative views. However, the student should use the thesis statement to express an opinion on the topic, and back it up with an analytical examination of certain materials already available on the topic. This means the student should use his or her own experience – from working in the field, from observations, and from a considered look at the claims already made.
The most important thing to keep in mind for students is not to simply describe the topic and research findings. It is essential in a critical analysis essay to use the thesis statement as a point from which to judge the information presented. While conducting research, students should constantly evaluate the materials based on their own knowledge of the broader subject and the specific topic. Just because an article or research paper is written by an expert does not mean you cannot disagree with the view taken. For example, a claim made a long time ago, or in specific socioeconomic circumstances, will not apply everywhere. The student could analyze this claim, why it is not universally valid, and make an alternative claim based on his or her own theory.
In a critical analysis essay students evaluate three parts of a source: 1. Basic premise – the starting point for the argument you are critiquing. The premise derives from a theoretical standpoint. It can be valid, partially valid or invalid. 2. Claims – come from applying the premise to situations. Claims can be incorrect even if the premise is valid. Students must provide examples to support their analysis of where claims are incorrect or not wholly valid. In addition, students should introduce their own, new thoughts based on their acquired knowledge of the topic. It helps to have a broad perspective (from experience and research) so as to be able to analyze claims in context. 3. Conclusion – even if the premise and claims are valid, the conclusion reached may be incorrect. Students must apply critical thinking here as well to show how the conclusion should be amended. To review:
- students need to analyze rather than describe,
- students must carry out extensive research in order to develop a theoretical perspective and present their own ideas on the topic,
- and they must constantly evaluate materials from a critical standpoint.
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